Sophie Gadoury (Social Science, Education profile, 2004) is the founder of nimble bubble, an EdTech startup aiming to change the way leaders and team members give feedback in the corporate workplace.

A former volleyball player and coach, Gadoury was inspired by the way that coaches could create optimal environment for their athletes and give constructive feedback that would improve their performance. Given the success of the model she had herself experienced in sports as both a player and a coach, Gadoury wondered why this approach to feedback couldn’t be implemented successfully in an office environment.

When Gadoury was a student at Champlain Saint-Lambert, she played on the Cavaliers volleyball team and coached the high school students across the street at Collège Durocher.

“I had already stated coaching and I was so passionate about it,” she recalled. “It helped me discover the best of the coach-athlete relationship because I was doing both at the same time.”

Gadoury said she chose Champlain as an opportunity to improve her English-language skills and added that playing on a team with bilingual peers was a great chance to practice. Thanks to her hard work, she was able to get into McGill University after Cegep, where she completed an undergraduate degree in Education.

It was at McGill that Gadoury decided to stop playing and focus her energy on coaching. While completing a Master’s Degree with a specialization in sport psychology at Université de Montréal, Gadoury started working as an assistant-coach for the Carabins women’s volleyball team.

It proved relevant to her studies, as Gadoury’s research focused on the science of motivation and the coach-player relationship.

“I was so lucky to be able to connect all those passions of mine, not only coaching volleyball but talking about the psychology of motivation and leadership,” she said.

After graduating from UdeM, Gadoury began working at Volleyball Canada. What began as a 3-6 month internship turned into a two-year position in coaching and team development.

When a spot opened up at the Canadian Olympic Committee in Montreal, Gadoury joined on as a logistical coordinator.

“My childhood dream was to go to the Olympics,” said Gadoury. “But the volleyball team did not qualify for the last 24 years. So I found another way to get there.”

Gadoury was able to attend the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014 and again in Rio in 2016 (the Olympics in which the volleyball team finally qualified!) as a member of the Team Services department.

“During my childhood I was remember watching the athletes and the coaches wearing the Canadian gear, representing their country at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. The day after I walked in Sochi in that ceremony, I had a moment of like ‘what am I going to do in my life now?’. It felt like I always had that compass but I didn’t have it anymore. It felt like I lost something I was always going after. After that moment I said ‘I need a new dream’.”

Gadoury’s new dream was nimble bubble, a startup she developed with support from Centech Mtl, a world-class innovation centre, which supports high-tech companies with growth potential, from conceptualization to commercialization.

After working in human resources for a few years, Gadoury realized that there was need for training and support to help leaders and teammates learn how to give feedback.

“I couldn’t believe how different the sport and the business world were in terms of feedback,” she said. “Feedback was nowhere to be seen in the workplace. It’s actually proven that feedback is one of the hardest things to do, the most stressful things to do at work, and that explains why many people simply decide to not give any.”

Her company provides online trainings, strategies and information about how best to give feedback in the workplace. She said like any skill, it has to be developed and trained for best results.

“I wanted to bring that sport mentality to the business world,” she said.

Gadoury’s advice for current students and recent grads: “It’s okay to live the experience without having all the answers. Now that I’m looking back at what I’ve done, I could not have connected the dots and known where I would end up. It just feels like I was following what made my heart smile. To me, that’s how I got to ensure I would always be following my compass. I could have not have told anyone what my trajectory would be. It’s okay to just say ‘yes’ without having a very clear plan. It’s okay if you do not have all the answers.”