Comment: In Pat Elemans, we have lost a ‘helper’ who made a difference

Deirdre Campbell worked closely with Pat Elemans, handling Gustavson’s public and media relations.

When we lost Pat Elemans, an inspired leader who personified graciousness, sophistication and kindness in all that she did, many say there is now a hole left behind in our community. In today’s COVID-19 climate, Pat was a “helper” in a world where we need helpers more than ever.

Pat was very humble and always underestimated her impact as the passionate global champion for the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson Business School, her larger-than-life presence as master of ceremonies for the Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, her ability to light up a room with her enthusiasm for meeting and connecting people, her passionate belief in the Institute of Corporate Directors and power of good governance, and her pride in Gustavson’s thousands of international students and alumni — many she knew by name.

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Meeting creative new people, forming collaborative networks in order to fix problems and make great things happen fueled her to the point that she accomplished more in her short life that many of us could hope to accomplish in many lifetimes.

And if she were here today, she would just tell us to “get on with it.” Let’s go find the other helpers, the entrepreneurs, the community leaders, those with the boldest ideas and find new ways of rebuilding our economy in a much more sustainable kind way, she’d say.

For Pat, if there is a hole or a gap, the easiest thing to do was to gather people around and brainstorm ways to fill it.

If you were lucky enough, you would be included in her evening dinner plans, for she was a passionate cook who understood the power of great conversations around the dining-room table accompanied with a bottle of wine. She encouraged us to always look at the world differently, to find ways to make it better. She will be missed and she would not want us to leave that hole empty for long.

Famous for her sense of fashion and the best high-heel collection in town, Pat’s love for Victoria was immense and she often spoke about the huge potential she experienced daily in the people she met performing her critical role with the university.

She excelled at championing others and ensuring many received the recognition they truly deserved.

Pat’s annual preparations for the Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Awards took months as she meticulously researched each recipient, interviewed close friends and family and delivered their stories in a way that gave attendees rare, often humorous, personal insight into the secrets of their success.

Pat made it a point to also recognize recipients’ own unsung heroes in their lives who helped them reach the pinnacles of their career. For Pat, behind every successful entrepreneur there was a team of family and friends who also should have their stories celebrated.

She was inspired by these stories and endeavoured to have global entrepreneurs meet her students and share their knowledge in very personal ways.

One of her many gifts was cementing invaluable relationships with inspiring international entrepreneurs for the university along the way.

Her legacy will live on in the growing reputation of the Gustavson School of Business among the many global business leaders she introduced to the school through the Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and dozens of guest lecturers for students.

And her friends and colleagues will show their enduring love for Pat by stepping up and following her lead.

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