Rachel Aldridge participated in our 2018 Wisdom Mentoring Program. Here’s her story:
“My top takeaways and highlights from the program was the insights section, where you learnt more about the type of person you are; not only how you can use the strengths identified to further your career, but also what areas to focus on improving in order to achieve your goals. I have become a more effective leader with this course by becoming more assertive in my direction and actions. I have become clearer in my communication, and in my expectations of others in my team.
The mentorship aspect of the program I found was really great to have a person that was impartial to the things we talked about, so they could give their honest thoughts and advise without being affected by the outcome. It was really great getting another person’s unbiased experiences, to give you another perspective on things. My mentor was able to give me very useful advice on problems I was facing in my role. We were able to talk freely, and in confidence about all aspects of my job. The feedback I received from my mentor was very valuable. I have noticed that I adjusted my leadership style after speaking, and working through problems with my mentor. I have been able to take my mentor’s advice and implement their suggestions in my leadership style, which I believe has improved the type of leader I am becoming.”
The Wisdom Mentoring Program matches women with influential mentors, who can help them make their ambitions a reality. Join the community of over 1000 women who have already taken their careers to the next level through this unique development opportunity.
Awards are nice, but my eyes are on the bigger prize: gender parity.
When I was recognized as a WXN Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award Winner for 2018, I was truly happy. Not because I’d have a nice, shiny award for myself, but because I know that being recognized as a leader means people will listen to what I have to say. And I want to use my voice to achieve an even better prize: gender parity.
The simple fact is in Canada only 5.3% of CEOs are women. This is shocking given that a 2014 Statistics Canada report says women now make up almost half (47%) of the total number of workers in this country. Clearly, there’s a huge gap for women between labour force participation and labour force leadership, and I’m determined to be a force for change.
I want Canada to achieve gender parity and I’ve got some ideas on how to get there. Just as I’ve spent my career creating a pipeline of investor-ready companies, I’m now focused on building a pipeline of executive-ready female leaders. We can’t appoint women to leadership positions if they haven’t been groomed for the demands of the job, so here’s what I’m doing to help bridge the gap and what you can do, too.
Mentor Young Women
The way I see it, young women need mentorship and guidance on how to build a career to achieve their dreams. They need exposure from a young age to leadership development courses, peer support and access to executives who can provide advice and counsel along the way. If they’re not granted access to C-suite insights, it will be far more difficult for them to cut through the glass ceiling. I make a point of connecting with young women, as I have had the fortunate opportunity of working with various groups like the WXN that specifically mentor younger women earlier in their career who are keen to be our next generation leaders. I try to remind them that when we take responsibility for our future, opportunities will emerge that weren’t otherwise possible. Being in health sciences, we need more senior level talent regardless of gender and so the opportunity to be a leader is wide open – we just have to work for it. Through Accel-Rx, we have specifically hosted events to share learnings and inspire women to fuel their own personal and professional growth. It’s been very rewarding to see the progress made.
Now more than ever before, women are demonstrating their leadership, exerting their influence and speaking out. Around the world, we are rallying together for change, and we need to continue to make our voices heard to change our lives – and those of others – for the better. For me, that means not remaining silent or complacent around a boardroom table. It means speaking my mind even if I think others might disagree with me. And it absolutely means bringing up gender issues when called for. I can’t be a silent witness to the gender gap. I believe I must call it out and work towards changing it so one day soon the talent pool will be gender-balanced. Speaking out also means me taking advantage of my many public speaking opportunities to advocate for gender parity to larger audiences. The next time you take the stage, think about how you can also lend your voice.
As an employer, I lead by example and offer a flexible work environment. This is especially important for women who are often juggling kids and a career at the same time. We can’t achieve gender parity with the same rigid, antiquated workforce standards that were largely created by men, for men. If someone needs to leave work early one day to deal with a family commitment, so be it. The time can be made up later.
If someone wants to work from home, why not? In this day and age, with technology connecting us, having to work in an office, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, needs to be revisited. No matter where you are, it’s easy to work remotely. And if you have a job that can be done from home, why can’t you choose how and when you’d like to work?
In short, mentorship, speaking out and flexibility support gender parity, which leads to happy employees and better results for my company.
Did you know that advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025*? Talk about a compelling economic reason to close the gap! And, we should also remember the human reason as well: women and men are equals and deserve to be treated as such.
While I greatly appreciate my WXN Award, I’m looking ahead to the greater prize of gender parity – because that’s a victory we can all celebrate.
Natalie Dakers, President & CEO of Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator Society, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters category for 2018. She has been recognized as a woman who has made a major impact in her field in Canada. Natalie is a leading figure in the Canadian biopharmaceutical industry and one of B.C.’s most influential women.
On November 21 we will honour women in the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters category, as well as in a new category for 2019 – Manulife Science and Technology. The Manulife Science and Technology Award celebrates the female leaders in STEM roles who are challenging the status quo for knowledge and female empowerment. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and don’t forget in 2020 to nominate a powerful female or even yourself!
Natalie Dakers is President & CEO of Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator Society.
2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters
Natalie Dakers is a leading figure in the Canadian biopharmaceutical industry and one of B.C.’s most influential women. With four successful start-up companies to her credit, she’s regarded as a Life Science industry visionary with an ability to get things done.
Ms. Dakers is currently President and CEO of Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator Society, an organization that identifies and supports promising early-stage companies by providing seed stage capital and expertise. Ms. Dakers was also founding President and CEO of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), a national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research of biopharmaceutical products. She subsequently went on to create and run CDRD Ventures Inc., the commercial arm that supported company creation at CDRD, before creating Accel-Rx. Prior to establishing CDRD, Ms. Dakers co-founded Neuromed Pharmaceuticals Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for chronic pain, anxiety, epilepsy, and cardiovascular diseases where she successfully raised $70 million in three rounds of venture financing.
Ms. Dakers has served on many local, national, and private company boards and advisory panels and has garnered numerous honours including Startup Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2015), WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2016) and Business in Vancouver’s Most Influential Woman Award (2017).
Judi Hess is the CEO of Copperleaf™, a Vancouver-based software company that provides decision analytics to companies managing critical infrastructure. Renowned as a visionary leader and strong advocate for empowering women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), she has increased the percentage of female employees from 10% to over 30% during her time as Copperleaf CEO. A long-time proponent of increasing diversity in the workforce, she was recently featured as one of B.C.’s Most Influential Women in BCBusiness Magazine and was the recipient of the 2018 BC Tech Person of the Year Award.
How did you feel when you learned you were selected as a Top 100 Winner?
I was thrilled to be included in this year’s list of outstanding Canadian women leaders. It’s wonderful to celebrate the success of Canadian women and the advances we’re making in the business world, and organizations like WXN allow female corporate leaders from a diverse range of industries to share knowledge and ideas.
How will you use your status as a winner in the coming year to inspire those around you?
I want to build a movement that will empower future generations to reach their fullest potential. I’ve always had a passion for driving more diversity in our field and I hope that increasing the visibility of women in leadership positions will help attract a more diverse workforce and inspire the next generation.
How can we achieve gender diversity in STEM?
Renowned writer and social critic, James Baldwin, once said, “You are formed by what you see.” That’s why it’s so important for young women to see strong female leaders in their environment. In this age of the #MeToo Movement, it’s imperative for women in STEM to find their voices and realize that they belong here too.
Attrition of women in STEM fields is severe. In high school in Canada, girls make up around 50% of mathematics/physics students. By university, the percentage of females majoring in engineering is around 25%, and in the professional world, women comprise less than 13% of the engineering workforce after five years in practice.
It is vital to actively hire and retain more women in male-dominated industries so we can compete into the future. It is possible to change this trend. When my father went to law school in the 1940s, there was only one woman in his class. Today, two generations later, women constitute around 50 percent of law school students in North America. We need to strive to have the same representation in STEM, because diversity brings success and enhances our workforce.
Do you have any early and lasting lessons you can share?
Determination and believing in yourself are hugely important for success. When I was rising up the corporate ladder, I was often the only woman in the room, but I never let that make me feel like I didn’t deserve to be there.
I’ve also learned a lot from failing. Failing is okay as long as you learn from it, and those early lessons helped to make me more resilient in the long run.
What advice would you give someone who aspires to become a leader?
Seize opportunities when they are presented to you. If anyone asks you to take on a leadership role, just say ‘yes’. Most women have less confidence than they should in their abilities, so if a leader sees potential in you, you should probably trust them and go for it!
Judi Hess, CEO of Copperleaf, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the HSBC Corporate Executives category for 2018. She has been recognized as a woman holding a senior position in a Canadian company. Judi is also renowned as a visionary leader and strong advocate for empowering women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
On November 21 we will honour women in the HSBC Corporate Executives category, celebrating those in senior positions who have made steady progress and are forging the way and breaking down barriers for future women. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and don’t forget in 2020 to nominate a powerful female or even yourself!
Judi Hess is Chief Executive Officer of Copperleaf.
2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
HSBC Corporate Executives
Judi Hess is the CEO of Copperleaf, a Vancouver-based software company that provides decision analytics to companies managing critical infrastructure. Under Judi’s leadership, Copperleaf has become one of the top 20 biggest software companies in BC, and one of the Fastest-Growing Software Companies in Canada.
Judi began her career as a software developer at MDA and spent 14 years there before joining Creo Inc. in 1995. She rose to become president in 2002, a position she held until Creo was acquired by Eastman Kodak for just under $1 Billion USD in 2005. During her 4 year tenure at Kodak, Judi was a general manager and vice president within the graphic communications group, a corporate officer and vice president of Eastman Kodak, and head of Kodak Canada.
Judi is currently a member of the Federal Economic Strategy Clean Technology Table, and on the board of directors of Pason Systems Inc. (TSX: PSI) and Neurio. In 2018, Judi was recognized by the BC Tech Association as Person of the Year, and in 2017 as an Influential Women in Business, an award celebrating B.C.’s most outstanding business women.
Originally from Toronto, Judi and her family live in Vancouver. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Mathematics Degree With Distinction – Dean’s Honours List from the University of Waterloo, and is an avid downhill skier.
I’ve always been a geek. Since childhood, I’ve been interested in how things work, and the parts that create systems. “Why?”, and more importantly, “why not?” both featured often in my speech. I became an engineer; it felt like the right fit for me, connecting science and the practical application of it in the everyday. I have never felt that I was limited due to my gender.
The ability to solve challenges in finding and producing oil and gas, and the phenomenal opportunities to do this in the province of Alberta were gifts I received. I progressed from the training of a larger Company, sitting rigs in Southern Alberta, to starting up and running small Companies with teams of other technical professionals and learning all the aspects of the business. Now in my late 40s, I remind myself of my “Why?” and I keep this spirit of discovery alive. This is especially important today working in the Canadian Energy Industry.
We are living in a polarized time in our country on issues of energy – related to the environment and to our economy. Our resources are our lifeblood, no more felt than in Alberta right now. We want to use them carefully and thoughtfully. For all the effort being spent on social media missives, we would do far better to get together and look for those “third ways” – how do we spend not only our money, but our time?
What appears to limit us is only the proving ground for the solutions to come.
We need the biggest networks of people possible, minds from all backgrounds, working on better technologies, new ways of thinking, and “third ways” of solving a problem. The data technologies emerging will generate new methods in managing our projects – this is already starting to happen. Canada is a leader in environmental technologies, and our home grown systems can be exported around the globe.
I will say to anyone, if this opportunity intrigues you, then STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) career fields need you. STEM fields have been known to be male-dominated, and I will also say that THE TIME IS NOW for more women to join these fields and contribute their gifts to society.
I have answered “Why?” on the question of the opportunity for women in STEM, and specifically in the Canadian Energy Industry.
If you know an inspiring woman that is making an impact in ANY STEM field please help recognize her contributions by nominating her for Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 in the new STEM category [Manulife Science and Technology category]. This category will help acknowledge and recognize women in STEM fields and create visibility for other women in STEM.
Because, as we continue to share our stories, the question should be “Why not?” All the best in your journey of inquiry.
Heather Christie-Burns, President and CEO of High Ground Energy Inc., is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters category for 2018. She has been recognized as a woman who has made a major impact in her field, in turn making a significant contribution to Canadian society. Heather is also breaking traditional barriers as a leading female in STEM.
Do you know a female trailblazer who deserves to be recognized or a leading woman who has is breaking new ground in STEM, contributing to Canadian society? Are you a trendsetter or a woman in STEM that’s made an impact on Canada? Click here to nominate today! It’s free! Deadline to nominate is June 17.
Looking for more information about Top 100? Visit our website to learn all about the awards including the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters and Manulife Science & Technology!
Heather Christie-Burns is President and CEO of High Ground Energy Inc.
2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters
Ms. Christie-Burns is President and Chief Executive officer and a founder of High Ground Energy Inc., a private equity backed upstream E&P company with assets in eastern Alberta in the Viking light oil play. High Ground is one of a very few ‘blind pool’ (building from no assets) private company start-ups in Alberta in the last 4 years, with a $230 million equity backing in July 2014 from Pine Brook and Camcor Partners. The Company purchased assets from Penn West Petroleum in April 2016 and has since transformed the asset from a liability-weighted legacy gas base without cash flow into a healthy going-concern light oil project with 3,300 boe/d of production and approximately $33 million of cash flow from operations. High Ground has 15 employees in Calgary and 15 contractors managing its field operations in Consort, Alberta.
Prior to founding High Ground Energy in 2014, Heather co-founded and was President and Chief Operating Officer of Angle Energy Inc., an Alberta based, TSX- listed upstream E&P Company with an enterprise value upon sale in December 2013 of $576 million. Angle Energy was grown through the drill bit as a Canadian controlled private company, blind pool start up. The Company went public in June 2008 and was the last IPO that year on the TSX. Upon its sale, Angle Energy had 48 employees, 11,000 boe/d of production, and approximately $100 million of cash flow from operations.
Ms. Christie-Burns is a successful entrepreneur, building companies for the past fourteen years. Additionally, in Heather’s twenty-four year career as a professional engineer she has developed expertise in petroleum exploitation, M&A, corporate and property evaluations, joint venture negotiations, reservoir engineering and production operations. Previous to her executive roles at Angle, Ms. Christie-Burns was the Senior Reservoir Engineer at Bear Creek Energy Ltd. from January 2002 through March 2004. From February 1999 to January 2002, she was Senior Reservoir Engineer and later Senior Exploitation Engineer with Encal Energy Ltd. Prior roles include Fekete Associates Inc. and a field engineering role at Norcen Energy.
Ms. Christie-Burns earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Calgary. She is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). She was recognized in 2011 by Calgary’s Avenue Magazine as one of the top 40 under 40, and was also awarded recognition in Oilweek’s Class of Rising Stars of 2011. Heather has presented to a variety of audiences including the Oil and Gas Council, Women’s Executive Network (WXN), WinSETT, the SPE, the Calgary CFA Society and Calgary Women in Energy and participated as a mentor over the past four years in the Lilith Professional Organization.