Philanthropy as Life's Work: An Interview with Manny Padda
We recently sat down with Manny Padda, entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of New Avenue Capital, the presenting sponsor for Science of Cocktails 2019. He’s “long on people,” with a knack for recognizing talent, cultivating relationships and connecting change makers. In this interview, Manny shares what drives him to create opportunities in his community and around the world.
What motivates you to be a philanthropist within the business sector?
As an investor, I’m all about building relationships and going long on people. What excites me about philanthropy—and impact capital, especially—is the chance to apply these same passions for a bigger purpose. You get to bring together exceptional talent, business savvy and a clear mission. Not to mention, it’s just really rewarding on a gut level to give back. I grew up in a working-class family but I’ve always felt privileged and lucky. It makes me feel good to know I can now do a little something for other people, whether that’s supporting Science World or helping put a smile on kids faces through the Children’s Wish Foundation.
You built New Avenue Capital from the ground up, and now you are empowering clients so they can impact the world. Do you have a favourite success story?
Education is very important to me. I think it’s the ultimate equalizer—a good education can take you anywhere, regardless of your background. That why I really loved what we were able to do with GradusOne, a company I co-founded with one of my former mentors at SFU. When I was a kid, I had no idea what jobs were out there or how to get them. So we built a platform to help young people throughout the Lower Mainland understand their career options and professional development. Through GradusOne, we helped thousands of kids channel their passions and get a headstart on their careers. It’s since merged with League of Innovators, the youth entrepreneurship accelerator started by Ryan Holmes, and continues to help people 16-25 with their personal and professional development.
New Avenue Capital is the presenting sponsor for Science of Cocktails, but this isn’t your first donation to Science World – you also generously donated to the Wonder Gallery campaign. Why is it important to you to support Science World initiatives?
I love what Science World stands for. To me, it’s a Vancouver institution, right up there with the library and the aquarium. It’s a place where anyone in the city can go to be inspired, learn and see cutting-edge ideas put into practice. The vision of the new CEO, and the focus on developing STEAM skills and empowering women and girls interested in science, is exactly what we need more of right now. I think events like Science of Cocktails are fantastic because they prove philanthropy can be engaging, which is really important for sustaining interest and support over the long term. You have amazing food and watch incredible bartenders do their thing, and the proceeds go to supporting initiatives for thousands of kids across the province. What’s not to like about that?
You’re also actively involved in our Advisory Council. Is there anything you can’t do?
LOL :) I’m always trying to learn new things and consider myself really lucky to have so many supportive people in my life. I have incredible business partners, great friends and, above all, a really amazing family who enable me to do the things I love. My wife, Sunita, is also an entrepreneur and so she really gets my passion for business and making a difference. I’m a firm believer that when you’re surrounded by great people, there are few things you can’t do.