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Ray Cao is very aware of how others have shaped and supported him along the way. His mother held down several jobs while his father traveled for business regularly between Shanghai and Toronto, so a strong work ethic was instilled in him from an early age.
At university he was inspired by the founder of a youth entrepreneurship program called Impact. Ray continues to be involved today and has been instrumental in seeing Global Entrepreneurship Week unfold in 87 countries around the globe. What he learned from this early mentor has stuck with him. “Simple ideas can become something special,” he said.
After working on Wall Street, a chance encounter ignited his take-charge instincts. A conversation with an old mentor at La Guardia airport revealed an insight that compelled him to leave the world of big finance and return to Toronto. “You don’t have to wait to take action,” his friend told him.
Back in Toronto Ray started up a new online venture, Loose Button, bringing global fashion to the North American marketplace. But his connection with a local city-builder and venture capitalist opened his eyes to the hybrid opportunities in marrying business and social agendas.
Today, Ray has come full circle. He knows that his many mentors have taught him a lot. But now as a member of DiverseCity’s Steering Committee he has a platform to give back himself. “In order to make your mark you have to be a role model,” he said.