entrepreneur of the year 2011

Forging a path of your own in the business world of course takes guts and determination and hard work. But the secret ingredient that sets the successful entrepreneur apart is something you can’t acquire in the classroom or through force of will. It’s something you can’t inherit or borrow or buy. The spark that ignites the winners of this year’s annual Pacific Region Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition is passion – an unfiltered, raw emotional fuel that drives these select few to rise above the corporate pack.

While it’s easy to imagine how pioneers like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs were driven by the prospect of world-changing products or services, passion isn’t limited to these once-in-a-lifetime, game-changing discoveries. It lies where you find it. Take, for example, Ross Waters, who took over his dad’s business of manufacturing industrial gaskets. As a kid Waters was fascinated by the demands of high-pressure industrial valves – not your common bathtub valve, but valves subject to heat, pressure and abrasion, valves that might be called on to do their job just once in a lifetime, but upon which an entire industry might depend. Talk to Waters for five minutes and his zeal for industrial valves will infect you.

Then there’s the kind of passion for life, a zeal for people and community that some will apply to whatever endeavour they take up. Diane Johnson, for instance, is recognized as this year’s outstanding social entrepreneur for devoting her career to making TV accessible to the visually impaired. And then there’s Boldijarre Koronczay, whose successful childhood battle with leukemia inspired him to share the health through a line of organic skin care products.

Whether our work involves industrial valves or world health, this year’s roster of outstanding entrepreneurs can teach us all a lesson in finding the inspiration to excel, whatever we do.