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Charlene Brophy: 2020 Entrepreneurial Excellence Award

Charlene Brophy never set out to be an entrepreneur. As a registered nurse, she came from a primary care setting to a new company that showed her possibilities for delivering health advice in different ways. She knew the health care system was already overburdened, and she could see that the model it followed was not sustainable over the longer term.

FONEMED grew into an international telemedicine company that provides nurse advice services and software solutions to more than 15 million people. They offer 24/7 nurse advice through the 811 Healthline in Newfoundland, as well as similar services operating throughout the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.

What’s exciting about being a business owner, Charlene says, is the autonomy, the fact that there is no seeking permission or convincing a group that an idea is worth pursuing: “If I see an opportunity, I bring in the team that I need and we move forward - that’s my favourite part.”

A significant factor in her success has been the desire to make a difference. She was able to bring her health care background to the business world and create new systems and structures to offer virtual services to anybody, anywhere in need of help.

One source of inspiration for Charlene is this province and its people. Especially since the pandemic, she says, we have seen the very best in people: “they listen; they wear their masks and abide by the restrictions. They understand the importance of the safety measures and have stepped up to curb this virus.” In fact, when asked about her greatest achievement, Charlene says it is having built her company from here, assembling a team that offers care over a vast geographical expanse.

What is the path to a brighter future? Charlene looks forward to a time when no one will say “woman business leader,” when there will be no assumption that a business leader will be a man. It’s crucial, she says, for women business owners in Newfoundland and Labrador to reach out and support each other, to ask for help and to offer it.

Seasoned executives need to provide a bridge to the next generation of entrepreneurs and help them follow their dreams. As a business owner, Charlene says, “You need to trust your own judgement - don’t be afraid to make mistakes, don’t be guided by fear. Trust your instincts and move forward.”


Entrepreneurial Excellence recognizes an entrepreneur who has owned and been in operating control of a business(es) for at least 10 years as of March 31, 2020, who has made a significant impact on the economy, and whose success is an inspiration for other women in business. Sponsored by RBC Royal Bank

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