Music is her metaphor
She’s only 30, but Elizabeth Lance, Mus’05, already has a wealth of diverse experiences under her belt, including ownership of the InGenuity Group, an SR&ED (scientific research and experimental development) consultancy company.
“Life has been a wonderful series of adventures, and I credit a lot of that to Queen’s,” she says, explaining that the experience she had during her study-abroad year in Scotland was the catalyst for a number of subsequent adventures, including studying for a teaching diploma in Scotland, teaching for a year in Kenya, and co-founding her own business.
It was fitting, then, that she returned to campus in January to give a talk to School of Music students entitled “Beyond BMus: How to land a job you love (when no one understands what you studied).”
“Not only do musicians have an array of highly developed, transferable skills, but we also have an opportunity to learn about ourselves through our choice of instrument,” she explains.
Elizabeth, a passionate French horn and trumpet player, knew that one of her favourite things was to collaborate with others to produce a final product, something she now gets to do on a daily basis, but with entrepreneurs and inventors rather than musicians. It was this self-knowledge, combined with technical writing and research experience gained working collaboratively with her father following her return from Kenya, that ultimately set her on the SR&ED path.
“When my father moved from government work to running his own business, he needed help with the paperwork, and so I stepped in,” she explains. “The experience was a bit of a revelation. Writing technical documents is not unlike breaking down a piece of music into its component parts to better analyze and understand it.”
In 2008, the opportunity arose for Elizabeth to take her studies to the next level; she enrolled in the Master of Music Education program at U of T. That program confirmed for her how much enjoyment she reaped from systematic research. After graduation, she took her passion back to the InGenuity Group and, when her father retired a year later, she moved into the CEO role – and in doing so broke the mould. “In my field, it’s uncommon for a woman, 30 or under, with a music degree, to do what I do,” she says.
In addition to running the InGenuity Group, Elizabeth is also busy creating a comprehensive online educational resource for the SR&ED community, including a detailed history of the field. “I’ve never been able to shake the teaching side of me!” she laughs. “I love it. I love understanding how things work; I love explaining to people how things work. The InGenuity Group offers a turn-key service, but we also offer educational services and coaching for businesses that aren’t quite ready to bring in a consultant – and that’s really who this online resource is aimed at.”
As if running a business and developing a comprehensive online educational resource centre weren’t enough to occupy her time, Elizabeth recently founded Perrito Social, a social media consultancy made up of a working group of collaborative professionals with different skills, each of whom can be called onto a project as required.
She also has a number of arts advisory roles, including the executive directorship of the Ottawa New Music Creators, a non-profit organization that brings new music to local Ottawa venues.
“My passion is passion,” she says. “I get up every day excited to do what I’m doing.”