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Leah Skerry 

CAREER Managing Partner at Norex EDUCATION Commerce at Saint Mary’s University

click to enlarge SCOTT BLACKBURN

I work as a managing partner of a successful web design company. I studied commerce at Saint Mary's, and I started my own business while I was still a student. I've always been really independent---I moved out of my parents' house when I was 16---and learning the ropes of starting a business on my own rather than from a textbook was a really valuable lesson for me.

I ended up in the commerce program as sort of a fluke. A friend of mine was applying to the program, and her mom told me I should apply and paid my application fee. For the first year or two I didn't have too much direction, but then I took a really amazing class on the structure of the startup with Ellen Farrell where we were each given $10 to start a business and had to make a profit.

At the time I was taking all my electives at NSCAD because I really loved design, so I approached the commerce society about designing a poster for them. I ended up working with someone else who was doing promotional work using Facebook, which was just starting to become popular with university students. We learned corporations would pay us to promote them through social media, so we teamed up and started EQ Media, which specialized in marketing and design.

Now I work for Norex, a web design firm based out of Halifax. I was hired in 2010 to nurse the company back to health after it had been neglected while its owners were in the midst of purchasing another company. I was doing everything a startup required, but the company had been around since 2000. Eventually I was given equity in the company, and now I focus on business development and a bit of creative direction.

My typical day consists of putting out fires, meeting with clients and working on communications material for the company. We also have labs time, separate from our regular work, which is where everyone gets to be creative. We were recently nominated for a Webby, which is like the Oscars of web awards. The most difficult part of my job is hiring really great talent and retaining them. There are so many new grads leaving the province, and I was almost one of them. The best part about my job is without a doubt the great people I work with. I love being able to make their lives easier---when they're happy, I'm happy.

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