Speaker Series - toronto

In Conversation with Canada’s Most Powerful Female CEOs

Event Details:

Should you wish to be put on a waiting list for any openings, please email RSVP@wxnetwork.com.

Ever wonder how many female CEOs there are in Canada? Even though women make up just over half the Canadian population and nearly 48 per cent of the workforce, men still dominate the top tiers of business and government. According to Catalyst.org, only seven of the 249 companies listed on the main index of the Toronto Stock Exchange in September 2017 were run by women. However, women are slowly but steadily breaking through the glass ceiling and while few head up large corporations in Canada, a growing number are CEOs of NGOs and smaller companies, often which they started themselves.

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6:00 pm – 6:40 pm – Registration & Networking

6:40 pm – 8:00 pm – Cocktails, Discussion & Networking

8:00 pm – Cocktail Concludes

8:00 pm – 8:30 pm – Optional Networking


Maria Armstrong
CEO, Executive Producer for Big Coat Media

Maria ArmstrongMaria Armstrong is CEO and Executive Producer at Big Coat Media, formerly known as Big Coat Productions. In 2016, with Big Coat’s rapid growth in digital content, the company was rebranded and renamed Big Coat Media. Prior to Big Coat, Maria was Director of Original Productions for W Network, where she established a strong independent production department and was responsible for all original productions for the network. Maria has over 30 years of extensive experience in the television and film industry. Starting her career in casting, Maria quickly established herself as one of Canada’s foremost casting directors. At the CBC, Maria was Head of Talent and Executive Director of Talent Relations, in charge of casting all CBC productions and talent development. In 1996 she left the CBC to launch Armstrong Productions, which become one of the country’s leading independent production companies, with seven highly rated television series airing on a variety of Canadian networks. At Big Coat, Maria is currently executive producing the critically acclaimed, Gemini Award-nominated series “Love It or List It” on HGTV Canada and HGTV (US), currently in production of its eighth season. Maria is also Executive Producer of “Love it or List it Vacation Homes”, which recently aired on W Network and received two 2017 Canadian Screen Award nominations, as well as “Love It or List It Vancouver”, currently in production of its fifth season for HGTV Canada.

Dr. Ann Kaplan
President & CEO, iFinance Canada
Top 100 Hall of Fame Alumni

Ann Kaplan portrait

Ann Kaplan is the CEO and President of iFinance Canada, the parent company to Medicard, Petcard, Dentalcard, iFinance Tech and iFinance Home Improvement.

An award winning businesswoman, Dr Kaplan was recently recognized with the top honor as the EY Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year, Ontario – Finance, she is also a two time recipient of the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award: the Peak Award of Excellence in Finance, as well as ten times on the Canada’s Profit 100 list for growth and 10X placement on the Canadian W100 list; she was also recognized as one of Canada’s most inspirational women and inducted into the WXN Canadian Hall of Fame as one of Canada’s top 100 most powerful women. Ann was also recognized with the highest honor, a WIMA Award as
one of the Rotman School of Business Top Women graduates. Internationally, she is the recipient of numerous entrepreneurship awards including 5 Stevie Awards: Women of the Year, North America and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ms. Kaplan has a MBA, MSc, a Corporate Governance Designation (ICD.D) and has a doctorate in business. Ann sits on three academic boards and committees, she is a twelve year delegate with the Ontario Economic Summit and is the finance co-chair in finance at the G20Y summit in Geneva this year.

Ann is a member of the National Speakers Bureau, she has hosted three televisions shows, written five books If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry”, “Best Practices”, “The InterNet” and “Fashion Cares and, more recently, “How to be Successful in Spite of Yourself”.

Ann is married, has eight children and resides in Toronto and is one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Toronto”.

Lynn Murphy ICD. D
President & CEO, StarTech.com
Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy portrait

Lynn has spent over 30 years in the IT supply chain. Having worked at a service provider for 10 years followed by 18 years at a global IT distributor and most recently heading up an IT vendor, she has had exposure to the entire IT value chain.

Her current role is President & CEO, StarTech.com where she is leading an aggressive global growth strategy to double the business to 500M in 5 years. StarTech.com is a global provider of connectivity solutions for IT professionals through the IT channel with presence in 20 countries and growing.  Prior to this Lynn was Executive Vice President, Westcon North American region where she was responsible for a complex 2.6B organization with 600 employees and 4 separate business units.

She has been featured many times as one of U.S. and Canada’s Top I.T. executives including the “Power list”, “Channel Chiefs”, “top 100 people you should know” and “Top 100 Most Powerful Women” in Computer Reseller News, Computer Dealer News and IT News.

Ms. Murphy has served on a number of boards and industry councils and has a passion for helping people realize their full potential.

Joy Thomas
President and CEO, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada)
2018 Top 100 Award Winner

Thomas, Joy portrait

Joy Thomas is the president and CEO of CPA Canada, one of the world’s largest national accounting organizations.

Under her leadership, the Canadian CPA designation is recognized and respected as a leading voice in the Canadian and international business communities.

Joy works in partnership with the provincial CPA bodies and other stakeholders to keep the profession ahead of emerging trends and to have it play a leadership role in shaping the future.

Anticipating change and preparing for the future is central to Joy’s outlook as a leader, and she is responsible for initiating future-focused strategic initiatives to help Canadian CPAs drive success.

Joy previously held roles as the CEO of CMA Canada, CMA Alberta and as a CFO in industry. She is an active board member with the International Federation of Accountants and is Chair of the Global Accounting Alliance. She recently completed her term on the National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy.


Marci Ien
Co-Host, THE SOCIAL, Bell Media
2018 Top 100 Award Winner

Ien, Marci portrait

Marci Ien (@MarciIen) joined CTV’s THE SOCIAL in 2017 as the newest Co-Host, following a successful tenure as Guest Co-Host in 2016. Prior to joining THE SOCIAL, Marci was the News Anchor and Co-Host on CTV’s CANADA AM for more than 13 years where she received a 2016 Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Host in a Variety, Lifestyle, Reality/Competition, or Talk Program or Series.

A graduate of Ryerson University, Ien was previously appointed distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University’s Radio & Television Arts (RTA) program. In that role, she led guest lectures and participated in workshops and presentations with students and faculty, offering insight on the latest developments in television. In November 2016, Ien was appointed to Ryerson University’s Board of Governors.

In 2014, Ryerson University bestowed upon Ien the distinction of having an award co-named in her honour by the RTA School of Media. The Marci Ien and Dwight Drummond Award celebrates students from under-represented and marginalized communities who show great potential in any three of RTA’s programs. In 2013, Ien became one of only five people to be inducted into the RTA Wall of Fame for her significant contributions to the field of media.

Her career in television spans more than three decades and has taken Ien from Halifax, where she joined CTV NATIONAL NEWS as a reporter in 1997, to Vancouver, where she was the News Anchor for CTV’s OLYMPIC MORNING at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Ien’s work in media has been recognized with multiple awards, including a 1995 Canadian Radio and Television News Directors’ Award for News Serial for “Journey To Freedom: A Look at the Underground Railroad”, the 2008 BBPA Harry Jerome Award, a 2014 Planet Africa Award, and the 2016 African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Media.

Ien’s charity work has seen her travel the globe. In 2008, she travelled to Sierra Leone on behalf of Journalists for Human Rights, where she met with reporters and led training workshops. She also works with World Vision for whom she traveled to Sri Lanka to report on the situation following the 2004 Tsunami. She is also a member of Children First Canada’s Council of Champions and is a mentor with Trust15, an afterschool program based in Etobicoke, Ont. that offers mentorship and life skills to young men and women. Ien’s commitment to the advocacy, education, and betterment of children and women is equally evident through her participation in many groups and initiatives over the years including World Vision, Dare Arts, the Children’s Miracle Network, The Hospital for Sick Children, among others.

Before joining CANADA AM, Ien was a reporter based in CTV News’s Atlantic bureau from 2001-2003. In 1995, she began reporting at Queen’s Park, covering daily political news for CHCH-TV’s regional newscast, as well as its British Columbia-based evening show CANADA TONIGHT. Ien’s first television job was on the Canadian children’s television series CIRCLE SQUARE at the age of 10.

Ien currently resides in Toronto with her family.


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150 King Street West
27th Floor
Toronto, ON M5H 1J9


Event Host:

Special offer!
dresst is a new monthly clothing rental service for women and they happen to be on of our partners for this event! They’re offering WXN members a chance to try their service for $75 (regular price $99), giving you some fresh fashion to sport at the office. For full details and to take advantage of this offer, contact Tia McNabb.

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Silver Partners:

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October 10, 2019
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Toronto, ON
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