In addition to being the President and CEO of WAFU Inc., the Montreal-based manufacturer and distributor of Wafu (the award-winning Japanese dressings), Gil Michel-Garcia assists Canadian and other non-US companies in raising private debt and equity capital in the United States. What was the inspiration for his career route? Find out in today's YPDaily...
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I assist Canadian and other non-US companies in raising private debt and equity capital in the United States.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
When I graduated from law school there was an enormous amount of U.S. investment going on in Latin America and Wall Street law firms needed fluent Spanish-speaking U.S. lawyers to help them with those transactions. This is how I started my legal carrier, assisting non-U.S. companies to raise capital in the U.S. Subsequently, when I got married and decided to return to Montreal, I developed a legal practice doing the same thing for small and medium-sized Quebec-based companies who needed a fluent French-speaking U.S. lawyer to help them with such transactions. Currently, I am a partner at Blue HF, one of the premier small boutique corporate law firms in Montreal, where I assist small and medium-sized Quebec, Canadian and other non-U.S. companies to raise capital in the United States
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I like the fact that what I do helps local SME’s to access the capital that they need to grow and succeed. Helping start-ups and other fast growing small companies is challenging and requires a very broad set of skills. What helps me to be a trusted and knowledgeable advisor to my clients is the fact that I not only know the applicable law, but I am also myself an entrepreneur and intimately understand the process and the difficulties of financing SMEs. In addition to my legal job, I am the President and CEO of WAFU Inc., the Montreal-based manufacturer and distributor of Wafu, the award-winning Japanese dressings.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I think that equity and debt crowdfunding (the act of raising equity and debt capital from many investors over the internet) is going to transform the finance industry for small and medium-sized companies the same way that e-commerce transformed the publishing and music industries. In five years, I hope to have helped to legalize crowdfunding in Quebec and Canada, and to have created and launched an internet portal that will help Canadian companies to raise money from investors over the internet.
What does success look like to you?
(1) A nice family, (2) a beautiful home filled with good food, love and happiness, (3) good friends and an active social life, (4) health, (5) financial independence, and (6) enough time and resources to be able to help future generations to have the same opportunities as I did and achieve their own version of success in life.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Landing my summer legal internship at a premier Wall Street Firm in New York. I found out that I had gotten the job calling in from a telephone booth at a gas station on the way to spend the Christmas holidays in Montreal during my second year at law school. This very memorable milestone paved the way for a subsequent full-time job offer in New York and the launch of an international legal career.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
What has allowed me to succeed has been not just excelling in my chosen field, but also picking a specialty niche that was complementary to my skillset (i.e. something that was on brand for me) and then working tirelessly to succeed at it.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I passionately believe that it is important to improve Canadian SMEs’ access to capital. Therefore, I currently serve on the board of Invest Crowdfund Quebec, an organization which is dedicated to the legalization of equity crowdfunding in Quebec and the rest of Canada.
I also like to be regularly engaged in fun charitable activities, like the Just for Kids Foundation's Dancing with the Stars 2013 competition, which raises funds for the Montreal Children's Hospital. In addition, through WAFU Inc., I like to sponsor and attend fundraising parties and events like (i) Le Bal Mont Royal in support of La Fondation CHU Sainte-Justine, (ii) the POP Montreal Party in support of the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, (iii) the Eyes Wide Shut Party in support of the Montreal Museum Of Fine Arts, (iv) the Splash ’n Dash Fundraiser in support of Sarah’s Fund of the Cedars Cancer Institute, (v) the Japanese Speech Contest at McGill University, (vi) the Toronto Japanese Short Film Festival, (vii) the LCC Alumni Golf Tournament, and (viii) the Drive For Our Girls Golf Tournament in support of The Study School.
What to you is notable?
What makes you notable is not who you are, but what you try to do and aspire to do; something that helps society, something greater than yourself.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Still giving Blackberry one last chance. But looking to switch to iPhone if they do not get their act together.