Faces of IMI: Ann Armstrong


Ann Armstrong received her Ph.D. from the Rotman School of Management. Since then, her research has focused on the structures of and dynamics in social enterprises and B Corps.  

In addition to co-authoring two textbooks with multiple updates, Ann has co-authored two books on the social economy of Canada and the United States. She has written articles on a variety of subjects from greening curricula to measuring impact in the social economy. Ann teaches in undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs in Canada and abroad.  

As well, Ann serves as the Academic Director of a program for Internationally Educated Professionals who have come recently to Canada. Ann is now serving as the Director of ICUBE, UTM’s incubator for social enterprises and early-stage start-ups from equity-deserving communities. 

You’re the new Director of ICUBE here at UTM.  What can you tell us about ICUBE’s focus on social entrepreneurship? 

Since its founding, ICUBE has provided space for entrepreneurs who want to create a social and/or an environmental impact – not only an economic one. It provides voice and practical support such as mentoring, web design, prototyping, etc.  for early-stage start-ups and social enterprises. ICUBE has a demonstrated commitment to JEDI in its work. 

What exactly are social enterprises, and what should people know about them?  

This is not an easy question but I don’t want to be pedantic here! Put simply, social enterprises are organizations that use some business processes and ideas to address social and/or environmental challenges. Sitti Soap is a great local example of a social enterprise that puts mission at its core purpose. 

You’ve done a lot of work on team dynamics and change management.  What are some of the biggest takeaways from your work that you would encourage people to think about? 

In short, teamwork is hard and change management is harder. It’s important to appeal to head and heart in both. 

What resources do you recommend for people who want to learn more about these topics? 

A great place to start would be David Bornstein’s How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition, as well as Roger Martin and Sally Osberg’s Getting Beyond Better – How Social Entrepreneurship Works. 

What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned in your career in this field? 

Another tough question! As you enjoy success, lift others up, and don’t ever forget those who lifted you up.