Sanchez: What was your experience before founding
First International Courier?
Adrienne Rosen: I was a grade nine
drop out… I got into the courier industry when
I was about 17 because I was pretty unemployable…There
were really only about five messenger services then…
and I got a job at one of them as a driver.
One day I had this interesting package. They said, “You’ve
got to take this package to the airport and meet this
guy who is flying on an airplane and going to take it.”
I saw how much money they were charging to do that,
and thought, “Oh I’m sure I could do this
myself.” And that’s how my career started
in the courier industry.
Those were days of huge government grants for youth.
So I got a quarter of a million dollars out of the Canadian
government to train women who were sole support mothers
on welfare, how to be messenger drivers. I had about
30 employees that were welfare mothers, and we did that
for two years…Then I started a [courier] company
with someone else. She and I had a falling out around
the company and I sold it to her… [After that],
I drove a motorcycle alone around the world just to
be the first women to drive a motor cycle alone around
the world. That took about a year.
I had just turned 30 and didn’t know what to do
with my life… I went back to school with a grade
nine education as a mature student, and got my BA and
then MA in Philosophy and worked on my PhD in Philosophy…I’m
a PhD ABD, which means all but dissertation. I need
to get some time off at some point to write that and
put that to bed…So simultaneously going to school
and studying a lot of philosophy to expand my mind,
I opened up a courier company.
really helped me with that, and it really gave me a lot
of self confidence. And I haven’t lost any of the
energy, and I haven’t lost any of the out-of-the-box
thinking, but now I understand the greater world more,
and the business world more from a philosophical perspective…I
think that most things that are thinkable are doable,
I really think philosophy has helped me more than an MBA
could ever help me, because philosophy teaches you how
to think out of the box. An MBA ma be fine for systems
and for knowing how to do things by rote…and greater
principles of how things theoretically should work. But
when you’re in our industry, nothing works the way
it should work, because everything is out of the box.
challenges have you faced as a female business owner in
the courier industry?
AR: We would be wildly rich if we were
men. We were never taken seriously by people in the industry,
but we were always taken seriously by our clients…So
our competition in Canada used to just look at us and
laugh and think that we were total losers. They didn’t
look at us [as competition].
MS: How did you overcome this
AR: We’d just do the same thing
that we always did and keep our eye on exactly what it
is we do. We make an extremely good living. Because we
don’t have huge overheads, we’re about 30
percent less expensive than our nearest competitors.
are the factors that made your company a success?
AR: We have good relationships with people. And building
relationships with your clients on a very human level,
and knowing the kind of work they put into their end product,
and that we’re not just the dumb courier, but we’re
helping them do their work better, and we’re giving
them more choices and options…We’ve really
worked hard at these relationships…And they always
have to be based on ethics and reliability. MS: What is
key to manage a successful company?
Being really flexible…Like a reed in the water,
you have to bend or else you’ll break.
What are your plans for the future of your company?
AR: We want to get bigger and we want
to get better. And it’s difficult to do that as
a small business…I want to partner with an airline.
That’s my dream. That would allow us latitude to
grow, and there’re particular airlines in Canada
that stands to do a lot more than they’re doing
in the cargo area. I don’t even think it’s
a dream. I think it’s totally doable.
Do you have any advice for other female executives?
AR: Yes, call me, because we do mentoring.
We’re really happy to mentor women. And in this
industry especially you just need someone to help you
along the road for the first few kilometers.