“We can rely on entrepreneurs to get us through challenging times”

EY is commonly known as one of the world’s ‘Big Four’ accounting firms. It also organises the annual EY World Entrepreneur Of the Year (WEOY) Awards in Monaco – the ultimate global competition for entrepreneurs, those that are reinventing industries, revitalising economies, and reimagining a new era of diversity, sustainability and prosperity.

What sets EY apart is its global commitment to ‘Build a better working world’. The current EY World Entrepreneur Of the Year theme is ‘How can one person make a world of difference?’. The 2022 winner was Gaston Taratuta, an Argentinian entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Aleph. Taratuta has revolutionised digital advertising by enabling companies in emerging markets to advertise on the world’s largest digital platforms. He also invests in educational programs that help people in emerging countries develop professional careers in digital media.

Continuing the honours, fashion designer Stella McCartney received the EY Social Entrepreneurship Award 2022 for Sustainability. McCartney is a well-known environmental and animal activist, and her label uses innovative materials and cutting-edge technologies to reduce environmental impact and improve sustainable methods of production, like sustainable faux furs and fabric made from recycled plastic bottles.

Each year, EY recognises unstoppable entrepreneurial achievements among individuals and companies that demonstrate vision, leadership and success, on both a local and global scale. The firm boasts a powerful network of over 300,000 employees and one million alumni, each inspiring others during their time at EY and beyond.

Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader, champions an ecosystem of entrepreneurial programs, relationships, and opportunity drivers around the world. I recently spoke to Stasia about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, the importance of connections, and what’s currently trending in the business world.

Stasia Mitchell with 2022 EY World Entrepreneur Of the Year winner Gaston Taratuta

Monaco Life: How and why does EY have such a strong focus on supporting entrepreneurs?

Stasia Mitchell: As EY was founded by two entrepreneurs in the US, it’s such a pleasure for me to continue the legacy of our global entrepreneurial program, which is the only known global program of its kind. We work with entrepreneurs across 60+ countries with the goal to connect them with other people’s projects and resources that will empower them. Also, as advisors to the ambitious, we help entrepreneurs in their growth journeys to deliver long term value and build a better working world.

What I enjoy most about WEOY are all the connections we make. We have the opportunity to bring together entrepreneurs, business leaders and other passionate voices, who, without this program, would likely never have this type of access or engagement. The networking amongst the entrepreneurs is about connecting the dots to build stronger companies that make a world of difference. Right now, there are so many variables separating and dividing us as humans, but I don’t see those as obstacles, they’re actually challenges and opportunities to create an ecosystem. We built a space for the commonality of these people to come together, because they’re entrepreneurs, they’re builders, they’re creators. And when that commonality flourishes, it creates a bridge to get on the same agenda, including the need to be more sustainable and drive diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Entrepreneurs are tough and tenacious, they never give up, they will continue to grow despite any conditions or challenges. We can rely on them to help get us through challenging times.”

What trends are you seeing amongst entrepreneurs nowadays as opposed to, say, five years ago?

I love seeing entrepreneurs prove that they will continue to take on the world’s greatest challenges. What we saw entrepreneurs achieve during the pandemic — their solutions and the speed at which they were brought to the table — I was blown away. It was a global rallying cry to get to a much better place.

I read a passage once that referred to entrepreneurs as weeds, but in a positive way. They’re tough and tenacious, they never give up, they will continue to grow despite any conditions or challenges. We can rely on them to help get us through challenging times.

We are also seeing underserved or underprivileged groups of entrepreneurs rise up. For example, young entrepreneurs, women, Black, Hispanic and Latinx, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse, and disabled entrepreneurs. These are the newcomers to entrepreneurship, and these are the people that need to be supported.

How do you foster a good entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are inherently very curious people, and they need access to other entrepreneurs to feed that curiosity, learn and grow. A lot of the time when I ask people “what entrepreneur inspires you?”, they say Elon Musk and Richard Branson, but they’re less accessible. So, as an Australian, I would say to you, for example, “Cassandra, do you know that in your country, you have Jo Horgan of MECCA Cosmetica, a leading luxury beauty and skincare platform and retailer? You have Linda Brown who founded and operates Torrens University, Australia’s fastest-growing, internationally recognised university?”

When you bring it back to that local level and make that connection, it’s like, ‘Holy smokes! There are people literally in my backyard doing amazing things and maybe I could do something like that!’ To foster entrepreneurship, we’re creating awareness and then connecting them to people that can mentor them, can coach them, can take them through the journey.

EY also invests in assets that help entrepreneurs discover what they need to do. Because as an entrepreneur, you’re going to have a lot of ups and downs. Our EY 7 Drivers of Growth is a framework that was built by entrepreneurs and supported by EY, that takes them on their different growth journey. Entrepreneurs are always looking to the future, so you need to constantly challenge their thinking. I think EY does a very good job of being a little bit provocative in terms of disruptive thinking. We recently launched a Disruptive Tech Program and EY Tech University in Palo Alto, California, and so we actually have centres around the world to deliver this art of the possible or disruptive mindset.

EY in Monaco. Photo source: EY

Do you think Monaco is an entrepreneur-friendly city? What do you think about the digital transition that is occurring here and how this will serve the Principality in attracting entrepreneurs?

I believe there are more billionaires in Monaco per square metre than anywhere else in the world. So, I would say that you have the founders who can become the funders.

Offline GDP is absolutely moving to online digital GDP. It’s happening now. What Monaco can do is what we’ve done – create a community to drive more activity. And if they could host people in diverse sectors, that would be amazing. If you bring youth, different genders, different races, different types of people to Monaco who have innovative thinking and then fund their innovation, that would be a beautiful thing.

Monaco is an important place for EY, it is where you have your EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards ceremony. What was it like returning to the Principality in 2022 after two years of Covid cancellations?

The energy was electric, I can’t even describe the feeling. But it was more than buzz. We were able to bring our last three years’ of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year classes, including people who could not fully experience this unique event because of the pandemic. In a lot of ways, bringing these visionaries back to the Principality represented how entrepreneurs are key drivers in launching us forward from the global challenges we faced over the last few years.


Photo above of Stasia Mitchell provided