Founder and CEO
“Grok is a labor of love for me. I love the idea of building something good: I’m not hungering to build a billion-dollar unicorn, but rather a company that is profitable, that serves customers well, that gives staff the chance to learn and grow.”
Name: Kim Morrison
Position: CEO and founder
Describe yourself in three words.
Entrepreneur, problem-solver, gleeful
What were you doing before working at Grok?
We had founded another start up called e-smith, where I was Chief Operating Officer. Before Grok, I was working at e-smith and the company that acquired e-smith (Mitel Networks).
What was your first job in education?
In 1982, I founded a little company called Words in conjunction with the University of Waterloo Federation of Students where we word processed student resumes and papers.
What does international education mean for you?
For most students, international education is a good experience and their best means to achieve a better professional life, but for a small percentage of international students, international education is truly transformative. The experience can pick up a life from one track, and move it to a profoundly different place. This was the case for me. I grew up poor and was a high school drop out, but at 17 years old I was accepted into a program called Canada World Youth which took me to work in the Philippines. That experience taught me that the world is a wide place and that if I strive, I can construct my own path. That experience helped me to enter University of Waterloo and gave me confidence to pursue my dreams.
What is something interesting you have learned while working at Grok?
If you are spending too much time thinking about what you CANNOT control, then you probably are not spending enough time working on what you CAN control.
What is one of the most satisfying outcomes you’ve helped a client to achieve?
There have been some amazing transformations and success in the past, but sometimes it’s the small things that mean the most.
We are currently working with a US institution to become more international, starting with helping them to put in place all of the marketing materials, management processes and staff in the field required to recruit international students. The process has taken a few years to kick off. We have engaged very intensively, both on and off campus, and the university has been great to work with. In one of our recent steering committee meetings, the university reported that their catering department had taken the initiative, out of the blue, to ask to set up focus groups with international students to look at how catering could better meet their needs – they want to do their part toward helping the university be more international. First, I felt satisfaction that the message of internationalization was trickling down through the campus, but more than that, I felt very touched at the sense of teamwork on this huge campus: the sense that all departments were eager to do their share and happy to change.
Why is it important for institutions to have a presence in international markets?
Well, first, let’s start with the obvious – it is not always important for an institution to have a field presence. Some institutions have a strong enough brand that they never need to leave home to recruit students. Some institutions do well domestically and right now, they may be prioritizing other worthwhile things – like research excellence – over international engagement. But for many institutions, international is a growing priority. Whether they need to grow their international student enrolments, or whether they want to be viewed as relevant and active on the global stage, these institutions need to invest in engaging internationally. But even some of these institutions honestly do not need an on-the-ground or digital presence. If fly-in/fly-out market management is delivering on results, then why change?
An institution needs a greater presence in market when less expensive options are no longer delivering the results that they want. For example, if flying into a market twice a year to visit agents or high schools isn’t meeting your recruitment goals, then you probably need to look at how to better manage the recruitment process. On-the-ground and digital presence is a TACTIC to help the institution achieve their goals. Our job is to help institutions, when the time is right, to undertake this tactic in the most effective and safest possible way.
What is your favourite movie and book?
Life of Pi. I am a very logical person, practical and down to earth. Life of Pi reminded me about the possibility of the mystical.
My favorite movie is Groundhog Day – I like redemption.
What is your dream travel destination? Why?
I am fortunate to travel so much these days that part of me wants to say that my dream destination is my living room couch with a good book. But honestly, I have recently been dreaming about visiting Japan (again), Antarctica, South Africa, and Portugal.
What is your favourite food to eat with friends?
Chinese dumplings. If it is lunch, then Beijing jiaozi. If it is dinner, then Shanghai soup dumplings.
What is a something you’ve learned from somebody inspirational?
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
What was your favourite subject at high school or university?
Really weird, but true: Statistics