All of us at ONFE want to congratulate Williams Thottungal on being the 2023 recipient of the JA Canada Seymour Schulich Entrepreneurship Scholarship. Williams is the first JA Ottawa, JA Company student to receive this scholarship in over 10 years! Congratulations, Williams on this outstanding accomplishment!
When we informed Williams’ mentors of his accomplishment, this is what they had to say,
“Williams is a highly capable individual who worked on every aspect of the companies he was involved in, even recruiting new students before the program officially started. He is driven, enthusiastic, creative, resilient, positive, encouraging, and charismatic, and contributed greatly to the Shareholder Report and final presentation as MC. Williams is the embodiment of a Future Leader and will make an outstanding ambassador for the program.” – Annette Casselman
“He never seems rattled, never gets excited. Exceptional mall day? No big deal. Unproductive meeting with looming deadlines? No big deal, more work to be done, that’s all. In a room full of talking people, his voice can get louder, but the tone never changes. The way he spoke at the Shareholders meeting is exactly how he is, 100% of the time. And his work ethic is second to none. We’d get emails from him about the Company at all hours of the day even before the program started.” – Kevin Reichstein
We asked Williams about his time with JA Ottawa and here is what he had to say,
1) What are three things you learned from being a JA Company student?
Entrepreneurial skills: The JA Company program provides students with hands-on experience in running a real business. They learn how to develop a business idea, create a business plan, manage finances, market their products or services, and work effectively as a team. These experiences help students develop important entrepreneurial skills such as creativity, problem-solving, decision-making, and adaptability.
Leadership and teamwork: Being a part of a JA Company program requires students to collaborate with their peers, delegate tasks, and work together towards a common goal. Through this experience, students, like myself, learn about effective communication, conflict resolution, and the importance of teamwork. They also have the opportunity to take on leadership roles and develop their leadership abilities.
Financial literacy: The JA Company program also greatly emphasizes financial literacy education. Students garner the opportunity to learn about budgeting, profit and loss, cash flow management, and other important financial concepts. This knowledge is crucial for their personal financial management and provides a solid foundation for future business endeavors.
2) What is one thing you learned from your JA Company mentors?
Over the course of my past 4 years in the JA Company program, my JA Company mentors have been the most invaluable asset. JA Company mentors, who are often experienced professionals from the business community, share their own stories of overcoming challenges and setbacks in their entrepreneurial journeys. They also provide guidance and support to students like myself when they face obstacles or encounter difficulties in running their JA Companies. Hence, by observing my mentors’ experiences and hearing about their journeys, I was often able to learn that setbacks and failures are part of the entrepreneurial process. Not only that but my mentors helped changed my mindset over the past four years to view challenges as opportunities for growth and to develop resilience in the face of adversity. In doing so, all my mentors have taught and instilled within me and my fellow colleagues the belief that perseverance and determination are essential qualities for success in business and in life. Moreover, mentors can be super helpful and offer some of the best practical advice on how to overcome specific challenges, share strategies for problem-solving, and provide encouragement during times of doubt or frustration. Their mentorship always inspires students to keep pushing forward, even in the face of obstacles, and to develop a resilient mindset that will serve them well in their future endeavors. As a result, I owe all my success to the amazing mentors I have had for the past couple of years that have been instrumental in teaching more than business skills but life skills!
3) What is one piece of advice you would give someone thinking of joining a JA Company?
One piece of advice I would give to someone thinking of joining a JA Company is to approach the experience with an open mind and a willingness to learn and grow.
Embrace the learning journey: Participating in a JA Company is an excellent opportunity to gain practical knowledge and develop valuable skills. Approach the experience as a chance to learn about entrepreneurship, teamwork, financial management, marketing, and other aspects of running a business. Be open to acquiring new knowledge and be proactive in seeking out resources, asking questions, and engaging with the program’s activities and workshops.
Emphasize collaboration: JA Company programs involve working closely with a team of fellow students. Collaboration and teamwork are essential components of the experience. Foster a positive and inclusive team dynamic by actively listening to others, valuing diverse perspectives, and contributing your own ideas and skills. Embrace the opportunity to learn from your peers and leverage each other’s strengths to achieve shared goals.
Embrace creativity and innovation: A JA Company offers a platform to explore and develop your entrepreneurial spirit. Be open to thinking outside the box, challenging conventional ideas, and coming up with innovative solutions. Embrace creativity and encourage your team members to do the same. This mindset will not only help your JA Company stand out but will also foster a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability.
Seek guidance and mentorship: Take advantage of the mentors and resources available to you through the JA Company program. Mentors can provide valuable insights, guidance, and industry knowledge. They can offer feedback on your ideas, help you navigate challenges, and provide support throughout the process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your mentors and leverage their expertise.
Embrace failure as a learning opportunity: In the entrepreneurial journey, setbacks and failures are inevitable. Don’t be discouraged by challenges or setbacks but see them as opportunities to learn and grow. Embrace a growth mindset that allows you to analyze failures, identify lessons learned, and adapt your approach. Persevere through obstacles and use them as stepping stones towards success.
By approaching your JA Company experience with an open mind, a collaborative mindset, a focus on creativity and innovation, and a willingness to learn from mentors and failures, you can make the most out of this unique opportunity for personal and professional growth.
4) In your opinion, why should every school have a JA Company program?
In my opinion, every school should have a JA Company program for several reasons:
Practical application of knowledge: JA Company programs provide students with a practical and hands-on application of the knowledge they acquire in the classroom. It bridges the gap between theory and practice, allowing students to see how the concepts they learn in subjects like business, economics, and entrepreneurship are applied in real-life scenarios. This practical experience enhances their understanding and retention of knowledge.
Skill development: JA Company programs help students develop a wide range of valuable skills that are essential in today’s rapidly changing world. Through these programs, students learn about entrepreneurship, financial literacy, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership, and adaptability. These skills are not only beneficial for future careers but also for personal growth and success in various aspects of life.
Entrepreneurial mindset: JA Company programs foster an entrepreneurial mindset among students. They encourage students to think creatively, take initiative, and develop a proactive approach to problem-solving. Students learn to identify opportunities, assess risks, and develop innovative solutions. This entrepreneurial mindset instills qualities like resilience, determination, and a willingness to learn from failures, which are valuable attributes in any field of work.
Exposure to business and industry: JA Company programs provide students with exposure to the business world and various industries. Through interactions with mentors, local businesses, and professionals, students gain insights into different sectors, career paths, and market dynamics. This exposure broadens their horizons, expands their knowledge about different industries, and helps them make more informed decisions about their future educational and career paths.
Networking and mentorship opportunities: JA Company programs often connect students with experienced mentors from the business community. These mentors provide guidance, share their expertise, and serve as role models for students. Additionally, JA Company programs facilitate networking opportunities with local businesses and professionals, opening doors for internships, job shadowing, and potential future employment. These connections and mentorship can have a lasting impact on students’ personal and professional development.
Fostering innovation and job creation: By nurturing students’ entrepreneurial spirit and providing them with the skills and knowledge to start their own businesses, JA Company programs contribute to fostering innovation and job creation. Students who participate in JA Company programs may go on to establish their own successful ventures, creating job opportunities and contributing to economic growth in their communities.
Overall, JA Company programs offer a comprehensive and impactful learning experience that prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of the real world. They equip students with practical skills, develop an entrepreneurial mindset, provide exposure to industries, foster valuable connections, and contribute to innovation and job creation. Therefore, every school should consider implementing a JA Company program to empower and prepare their students for a successful future.
To learn more about JA Ottawa, click here.