B.C. lost one of its most successful female entrepreneurs on March 6, when Shannon Rogers Roy, president and general counsel of Global Relay, passed away at age 54.
Rogers Roy lost her 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer after earlier winning one against breast cancer.
Rogers Roy is known for being the driving force at Global Relay, helping build the company with husband Warren Roy. She was also a passionate advocate for women in business and created a group within Global Relay called Women In Tech.
She met Roy while trekking up the Grouse Grind in late 2003, and was soon inspired to give up her career as a lawyer to join him, and build what was then a fledgling start-up enterprise that had three employees.
“She put every single thing she had into getting this business going,” Roy told BIV. “It wouldn't exist without her.”
Rogers Roy helped structure the company, while planning and executing its global strategy. She also headed its sales and marketing teams, Roy said.
She also put her life’s savings into Global Relay, along with an inheritance from her grandfather. She added borrowed money to keep the company afloat, he added.
Her efforts helped grow the global cloud-computing company to more than 1,300 employees, with upwards of $200 million in annual revenue.
She earned countless honours through her business career.
BIV named Rogers Roy as one of its Forty Under 40 winners in 2007 and one of its Influential Women in Business honourees in 2013. She has since ranked on the BIV500 list of influential British Columbians.
She earned the No. 1 spot on the Profit W100 Top Female Entrepreneurs in Canada list three times. She was also named to the Women’s Executive Network’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women In Canada list three times – in 2014, 2015 and 2016, before being named to its hall of fame in 2017.
She won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Pacific Region in the business-to-business category in 2013.
Among many other honours were being named a RBC Women Entrepreneur Trailblazer in 2013, a Sara Kirke Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation winner in 2014, and a BC Tech Magazine Top 10 Influential Women in BC Tech winner in 2013.
Born in Calgary, Rogers Roy grew up in West Vancouver. She achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Victoria and attended University of Toronto.
Before studying law at McGill University, she travelled to India for a year, spending five months volunteering at Mother Teresa's Home for the Destitute and Dying in Calcutta, she told BIV in 2013.
Her legal career included work at McCarthy Tetrault LLP and Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.
She soon realized, she told BIV, that she was “on the wrong side of the board table," and that her real calling was business.
She ensured that Global Relay was part of the B.C. business community through efforts such as making the company the title sponsor of the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, starting in 2012 – an initiative that cost several hundred thousand dollars each year, and helped invigorate Gastown.
“Her passions were really just exploring and being out in the ocean – hanging out with humpback whales, orca whales, seals, sea lions and marine life,” Roy said. “She did really love animals. That was the whole reason she loved being on the water.”
She and Roy many years ago bought a 21-foot fishing boat that they named West Coast Girl, and the two explored the B.C. coast.
More recently, she and Roy sailed for about three months each year for the past five years. They voyaged from Finland, through the Mediterranean and into the Black Sea to Turkey.
Roy recently reminisced with Rogers Roy, and remembers her saying, “We did some cool stuff.”
He responded, “Yes, we did.”
Rogers Roy was born July 22, 1968 and is survived by parents William (Bill) Rogers and Joan Rogers.
She is also survived by siblings Russell Rogers (married to Melanee Rogers with two children, Cole and Makena), and Glenn Rogers (married to Catherine Rogers with two children, Callum and Victoria.)
A celebration of Rogers Roy’s life is set to be held at the Capilano Golf and Country Club at 2 p.m. on April 4.