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Pharmpreneur of the week Shenaz Singh: "My key motivator is people."

My key motivator is people. The impact we have on our patients’ day in and out is extremely rewarding.
Shenaz Singh



UBC Pharmacy (BScPhm) 2009

Current role

Associate-Owner Shoppers Drug Mart #2241 (Abbotsford, BC), Shoppers Drug Mart #2244 (Port Moody, BC) and Shoppers Drug Mart #217 (Chilliwack, BC)

What excites you about being an entrepreneur?

I love the Shoppers Drug Mart Associate-Owner concept because I get to be both a business-owner and entrepreneur while having the support from Canada's leading pharmacy retailer. This concept is unique to SDM and offers the chance to be the owner and operator of our own businesses. We take a lot of pride in ownership and are truly committed to patient care and giving back to the communities we serve. My key motivator is people. The impact we have on our patients’ day in and out is extremely rewarding. I love to develop and mentor future Associates, new Associates, new front store managers, beauty managers, etc. watching them grow and achieve their goals keeps me motivated to do more.  

How has your entrepreneurial career evolved since your graduation?

My story is a little bit unique, in that I had decided to work towards the goal of being a Shoppers Drug Mart Associate-Owner prior to applying to the UBC Pharmacy program. So, my entire time at school and immediately after graduation was spent focused on how to be the best store owner and pharmacist I can be. I worked as a 24-hour casual pharmacist under the mentorship of one Associate who scheduled me in almost 20 different stores (vacation coverage, etc.) to give me different experiences, and I got to meet many future mentors. As I was developing my skills in pharmacy, front store, and more, I was also studying leadership. I consider myself a perpetual student and I am always looking for ways to improve my style and results. To date, I have owned 7 different Shoppers Drug Mart locations (I currently own 3 in Port Moody, Abbotsford and Chilliwack, BC). In January 2023, I won the award "Associate-Owner of the Year" for BC/YK at our National Associates Conference. This was through nominations from team members (past and present) as well as regional office partners, and peers. I am truly humbled to receive this recognition on such a public scale and feel more motivated than ever to strive for excellence.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

My father was a refugee from Uganda, Africa and my mother immigrated here from England. We grew up in low-income housing units in Edmonton and I saw the daily struggles both my family and my friend's families had to overcome. As I grew up and thought about which paths are available to me, I had a hard time believing I could make it out of poverty. I dropped out of school at one point and then realized my mistake and returned with a newfound motivation for success. I graduated high school with honours and went to community college to start working on prerequisites. I was struggling with choosing a path in healthcare or business. I learned about the Associate-Owner concept at SDM and had an "aha" moment. I still thought it was a steep hill to climb but I was motivated to do my best to reach this goal and luckily was accepted into the UBC Pharmacy Program on my first try. Once I graduated, I met an amazing mentor who supported me in achieving my goals. I look back and am truly grateful for the opportunities that came my way along the years.

How do you define success?

Success to me is happiness. I don't believe you are successful if you are not happy. You have to be passionate about what you are doing to truly be successful. If my patients and customers are doing well, my family is doing well, my teams are doing well, and my business partners are also satisfied with my and my teams' work, then I am successful. If we enjoy our work and are passionate about it, and excel in patient care, that's what matters.

As a successful entrepreneur, what continues to drive you?

I am driven by many different things. I want to excel and inspire up and coming Pharmacists, Associate-Owners, Managers, etc. As a woman, I want to do my part to work towards equity in pharmacy ownership. I want to show young women that it is possible to have a family and a career and be fully present for both. I am driven by the pursuit of excellence, I want each year to be better than the last and I want to help all my mentees achieve their goals. I want to be a strong brand ambassador for Shoppers Drug Mart, this company has done so much for me and for many others across Canada and I am driven to represent this company as well as I can.

What are the biggest challenges to being an entrepreneur?

In retail and in business ownership there are daily challenges. You learn to focus on what is in your control and take deep breaths and work through them. At this point in my career, I have experienced most challenges, but I still come across new things all the time. Luckily, I am part of a larger network where I can reach out for support from business partners or my peers and I do not ever feel like I am alone. I have also learned to see my obstacles as part of my success. Looking back, I always learn and grow most from the difficult situations I have encountered. 

How do you manage work/life balance?

I know my answer to this won't be popular but I don't necessarily believe in "work/life balance." I heard a quote a while back: "there's work, there's life and there is no balance." To be very successful in your field, you have to truly be passionate about what you do. Sometimes this means having many weeks in a row with a jam-packed schedule because everything in your schedule is so important to you that you don't want to miss out on any of it. But other weeks, you take extra vacation and spend time with your family and recharge that part of your soul. If you constantly worry about "work-life balance" and try to make it match up exactly, you will never win. You do what feels right in the moment and most importantly, you take charge of your schedule and schedule what matters to you most in the moment. Don't ever let your schedule control you.   

What books/resources do you recommend for every entrepreneur to check-out?

There are so many. One book that is a true game changer is "The Everyday Hero Manifesto" by Robin Sharma, and another oldie but goodie is "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg.

What advice would you give to colleagues who want to become entrepreneurs?

Do it! If it is what you truly want, don't worry about anything else. If you're scared, do it anyway. You won't regret it and a very wise woman once told me, you never "fail" –you either win, or you learn. If you don't succeed the first time, get back up and try again.




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