The Next Diversity Challenge: Embracing Our Natural Leadership Styles

Melanie Dunn portraitWXN’s mantra is ‘celebrate differences’ and ‘lead inclusively.’ I think both of those directives are important when it comes to inspiring the people around you.

It’s an honour to be named to WXN’s Top 100 Most powerful women in Canada list and be part of an outstanding group of leaders in their fields.

All of us have overcome challenges throughout our careers, some of which are inherent to business and some of which are gender-specific. Staying true to my leadership style has not always been easy. I’m fortunate to have been 19 years with a company that has created a business environment where women can stay true to their values.

But more broadly, I would say that despite advancements, a very stereotyped image of leadership remains. By default we tend to celebrate some leadership styles over others. Women are still encouraged to be more assertive, more confident in the boardroom, willing to take more risks and make stronger decisions. In other words, the traditional characteristics of a male C-suite executive.

But I believe that is changing.

The catalyst is that with the way the world is now, we are losing a bit of our humanity. We are going to be progressively open to a whole new kind of leadership, and I think the skills we tend to align with women more than men are going to change in value. Things like empathy, collaboration and generosity: these will no longer be a ‘nice to have’ but a must have.

Women receive a lot of advice on how to succeed in business. I would argue that instead, we should be giving advice to business on how to attract women to the workforce, and start building an environment where women can be themselves. After all, this is what diversity means. If we do the same things in the same ways and have the same behaviours, then diversity is mute.

Years ago one of my account leaders returned to the office after having a manicure with a client and she felt very awkward telling me. Like it was more of a confession than sharing a successful client experience with the boss. I said to her, “Why are you embarrassed? Do you play golf? No. Just think of the manicure as a round of golf.” The light went on.

This is a small story, but it illustrates the broader point that there are legacy codes of how to be in business that don’t work for everyone. Women can be trailblazers in many ways; not just in continuing to push against the traditional means of excluding women from leadership ranks, but also in redefining what we value in leaders overall.

This year, my status as WXN winner will reinforce the goals of ‘celebrating differences’ and ‘leading inclusively,’ that have always guided me professionally. It’s important to see other people’s views, to embrace a diversity of approaches and responses and to encourage people to be wholly themselves. It is on our shoulders to create a world that truly values the idea that there are as many ways to be successful in business as there are leaders in business.

We’re very proud that Melanie is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the HSBC Corporate Executives Category. 

Do you know a female in Canada who deserves to be recognized for her contributions? Click here to learn more about our Top 100 Nominations and how to nominate yourself or someone else. It’s free!


About Melanie:

Melanie Dunn is the Global President and CEO of Cossette.

Dunn, Melanie portrait

2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
HSBC Corporate Executives

A highly accomplished businesswoman, Melanie has over 20 years of experience in business management and marketing communications. She is the President and CEO of Cossette and a member of the executive management team of Vision7 International, a holding company with an extensive portfolio of Communications firms in North America, Europe and Asia.

Melanie is actively involved in several professional and community organizations. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Canada Post Corporation and the Health Standards Organization (HSO). She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.

Melanie has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Marketing Certificate from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).


Business Can Also Be About Caring

Recently, some shocking news was trending on Twitter and other media outlets. One article on the subject, from Maclean’s read: “If they were to live on the average worker’s pay, Canada’s CEOs could stop working at around 11 a.m. on January 2 and take the rest of the year off. That’s because by 10:57 a.m. on the second day of the year, their earnings will have already hit $49,738, the equivalent of the country’s average wage, according to research by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPPA).”

To me, this is outrageous. I am a CEO too, and I know how much time, effort and energy growing my business consumes. I deserve to get paid well for my leadership and decision-making. However, while winning is an integral part of any definition of success, I cannot imagine how I could ever justify creating such a gigantic disparity between what I earn and what I pay my team. To me, the team is integral to my business’s success. If I win, then my team wins. If my team wins, then my clients win. When my clients win, then the entire business ecosystem wins.

I strive to create a supportive environment with my team, and I have found that we win more often when I place an emphasis on personal happiness.

Happy teams can achieve productivity increases of up to 20%, according to Daniel Sgroi of the Social Market Foundation, who authored a 2015 study which looked at the relationship between happiness and productivity. The researchers chose workers at random and provided materials that would make them feel happy, including comedy videos, drinks and snacks.

Many people assume that businesses are focused on profit at all costs, including the cost of workers’ well-being. But I’d like to suggest that you can build a business, make it successful and also care about your team’s happiness.

When we all win, we become happier. That happiness leads to a nurturing environment that encourages productivity. It’s the opposite of a vicious cycle: it’s a positive cycle!

Nourishing Your Team in a Business Environment

“The more you nourish employees, the more a business flourishes,” says Lord Mark Price, former Trade Minister in the UK Conservative government.

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of the yogurt company Chobani, believes that nurturing employees is the best way to create a positive work environment. Ulukaya, the Yogurt King, grew up in the mountains of Turkey, but sought a different life. He moved to New York and eventually used his experience to create the Greek-style yogurt brand Chobani. Founded in 2005, Chobani currently holds a 20% share of the U.S. yogurt market.

Every year, each employee receives a turkey and a bucket of feta cheese during the holiday season. In 2016, Ulukaya gave 10% of his company to his employees in the form of shares. For some long-term workers, that was a million-dollar gift.

“Now they’ll be working to build the company even more and building their future at the same time,” he said in 2016 in an interview with the New York Times.

For those who believe business is only profit-oriented, the idea of gifting that much of a self-built company might sound like a recipe for disaster. Ulukaya believes the opposite is true. He has built his highly successful brand by encouraging employee ownership. It is a process every business owner can follow.

Why Employee Ownership Creates a Winning Scenario

When employees feel engaged in the success of the organization they work for, their sense of ownership creates a collaborative environment which offers robust levels of productivity. It is evidence that business isn’t an individual game, but a team sport. We all win.

Many organizations use an ESOP, or an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, to create a team environment. For startups or SMBs, introducing an ESOP may not be the best solution. It might not even be possible. But there are still effective ways to encourage employees to take pride in their company.

  • Provide regular feedback that encourages worker skill growth.
  • Be willing to listen when workers are struggling with a personal or professional issue.
  • Offer public rewards for excellent work, even if it is only a “thank you.”
  • Look for ways to expand the role of top producers within the organization, since a promotion or a raise can be an excellent motivational tool.

I may not be able to offer a million-dollar ESOP to my team, but I can nurture them by encouraging an environment where we can all be proud of our work. When that pride is present, a winning attitude often follows.

That is how business can—and, I would argue, should—also be about caring. By nourishing others, we feed ourselves.

Karima-Catherine Goundiam is the founder and managing director of Red Dot Digital, which she launched in 2014 with the aim of bringing greater efficiency and diversity to the world of digital and social media. She brings 16 years of international integrated marketing, campaign and project management experience to the firm. Before Red Dot, she managed digital and social media for Deloitte Canada and directed social media for Ford.

Karima-Catherine has mentored executives at every level on digital transformation, from digital strategy to social media. With over 49,000 followers on Twitter and many more across social media platforms, she writes articles on LinkedIn Pulse and the Women’s Executive Network, an international organization and community advancing the conditions of professional and executive women.

Red Dot Digital helps its clients boost their sales and achieve their business objectives in today’s digital world with solid digital and social media strategies. Globally-minded and cost-efficient, RDD works across multiple time zones, setting themselves apart byproviding real, measurable results.

@KarimaCatherine on Twitter

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden – Mélanie Dunn – CEO, Cossette

COSSETTE CEO, Mélanie Dunn (@melaniedunnmtl) believes there is nothing stronger than corporate culture. An established industry leader behind the communications powerhouse, Mélanie cites real-time adaptation, team bench strength and aligned corporate values as critical factors for individual and organizational success. Boyden’s Sébastien Zuchowski and Chantal Hevey sat down with Mélanie to talk leadership, talent, and why true diversity can’t take shape without a pivotal culture change.

BOYDEN: What would you say are the cornerstones of your success?

MÉLANIE:  I would not be where I am today if my organization’s culture and values were not aligned with mine.  At Cossette, I worked in several departments and occupied different positions which allowed me to grow in new ways. I also believe in the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. A key here is to understand your own strengths and weaknesses and how to work with colleagues that magnify those strengths and offset any weaknesses. I have always stayed true to these beliefs.

BOYDEN: Engaging talent is critical to achieving success. How do you ensure to engage all generations of talents?

MÉLANIE: We place more emphasis on a person’s personality and leadership qualities than on their belonging to a certain generation. We hire from all generations. What we have realized is that your generation does not really define your profile. You can be a Gen Xer with Millennial characteristics and vice versa. Individuality and diversity are therefore all the more important. This concept is also key when bringing brands to the market as we stopped targeting large homogeneous groups and instead focus on individual behaviours.

BOYDEN: As you look at the sector and the leadership landscape, is enough being done to drive real change and move towards greater diversity?

MÉLANIE: What motivates me is how much we have yet to accomplish. We had a long time to think about how we encourage women to be more ambitious, help in their career development and in motivational programing. But this phase has run its course as it’s now up to organizations to change and adapt. Quotas have helped us gain a lot of ground but there is a reason why women are not selected above the quota limit, and that is due to board and organizational culture. Boards need to pivot towards being authentic when it comes to attracting diverse talent and make changes within the organization instead of pushing quotas.

BOYDEN: How does gender diversity fit within Cossette’s mission and within your leadership team?

MÉLANIE:  I feel a responsibility on our part to ensure that our brands express themselves by realistically representing today’s population – the people we see and the subjects in our advertising, social media, and websites. In order to express brands and still manage to offer a quality and creative product that remains realistic, you need diversity. And the only way to obtain this balance is to have a diverse team that produces the work. Thus, if our people don’t accurately represent the population, they will not be able to help a brand become relevant to today’s target markets.

BOYDEN: You are leading in the era of disruption. How do you ensure Cossette continues to evolve in light of constant change and competition?

MÉLANIE: We are in the business of communications, marketing, and media where innovation is constantly present. What we are doing for our clients today is totally different from what we were doing just a year ago, wherein lies the importance of adapting to change in real time. The ability to always question is key. The time of five-year plans has come and gone. Changes in technology, new possibilities, personal transformations and political shifts have assured this. At Cossette, we are making important changes in the way that we operate our organization by turning towards a more agile methodology. It really emphasizes the real-time adaptation of processes against up-and-coming challenges.

BOYDEN: Does it feel as if you’re going through a constant state of renewal?

MÉLANIE: Yes, but at the same time the reality is that there is no longer an ending nor a beginning. The hamster wheel is always spinning, that is why you must appreciate the present moment.

BOYDEN: How does that translate in your leadership style?

MÉLANIE: You have to accept that there is no status quo or certainty; it’s a world of adaptations. Surround yourself with people that are comfortable with change. My expectations towards my employees must also change. I myself have to adapt to new realities and trust my team.

BOYDEN: Is there more proximity in those moments?

MÉLANIE: Yes, I think that’s a good point, genuine and honest relationships favour a climate of change, of asking questions and of transformation. Leadership that’s aligned with this culture helps so that there is acceptance that mistakes will happen because everything is changing so quickly but also of generosity towards the new reality.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

MÉLANIE: It is important to make informed choices before taking your next step. Seek an organization where harmony exists between company culture and what you want to accomplish in your career. There is nothing more difficult than going against a culture, especially for a leader, but nothing easier than being yourself at work and feeling like you can grow in a natural and authentic way.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on the Boyden website.


About the authors:

Sébastien Zuchowski and Chantal Hevey are part of Boyden’s Montréal team.  A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Connect with them on Twitter: @BoydenCanada @SebZuchowski@ChantalHev  

5 Tips For Effective Change Management

Missed our recent Speaker Series in Toronto on Leading Effective Change Management? Good news: our Digital Brand Ambassador, Silvia Pencak is recapping the event below and sharing her top 5 takeaways.

We’ll also be hosting change-themed Speaker Series in Calgary (Nov 8th) and Vancouver (Nov 7th) next month. Visit our events page for our full Speaker Series schedule, we have a number of can’t-miss events taking place across the country this fall!

Last week, WXN hosted a sold-out Speaker Series event in Toronto where 100+ guests were presented with practical strategies on leading effective change management.

The keynote speaker was Caroline Riseboro (@criseboro), CEO of Plan Canada (@PlanCanada) – one of the oldest non-profit organizations in the country. Caroline shared key lessons she learned during times of major organizational changes as she stepped into her role as CEO. Despite advice to not rock the boat, she decided to trust her gut and make the necessary changes to move the organization forward. There were a lot of “aha moments,” but here are my top 5 takeaways from Caroline’s presentation.

1. Society can’t afford us being stagnant

Change is necessary. Being in a reactive mode is deadly. When you’re reacting to things that are happening, you can feel productive, yet the reality is that you are maintaining status quo. Stability in an organization is important, but if you stick to it, you might soon become obsolete. We’ve seen it happen with giant companies who were ahead of the game and had billions of dollars yet still failed.

2. The only way to get ahead of disruption is to disrupt

If you’re going to ignite a major change, you need to have resilience. It won’t be easy. In order to ignite change, you need to have resilience first. Start today. Do something this year that will push you out of the safety zone and help you build stamina. You will need this resilience when you become a leader and need to make major disruptive decisions.

3. Prepare to let people leave

Change is only possible if the people inside the organization step in the boat. Not everyone will. It doesn’t mean that people are not capable, they are just not the right fit for the organization at the time of change. It’s not easy, but you must be willing to let them go.

4. Know when to push and when to pull

During times of change, constantly check in with people. How are you doing? Is it too much? Are you on track? What’s working? What’s not working? Pay attention to inner dialogue in an organization. Change brings both, passion and interest about where you are heading, but also enough criticism about where you are heading. If you are only hearing excitement, you might not be making the changes necessary and if you are only hearing criticism, you might be pushing too hard. When making the change, you will hear both.

5. Celebrate successes

Small successes will lead to bigger successes. Share successes across the organization to encourage change culture in your organization. You don’t have to be a top leader to do this. Become a change agent no matter where you are in an organization.

Caroline Riseboro is not only a great speaker, she is an inspiring leader who confidently walked her organization through turbulent times of change despite criticism and resistance. I am sure it wasn’t an easy journey. Yet, the results she achieved for her company, like helping more girls this year than ever in history, reaching their best fiscal year yet, and inspiring the Canadian Prime Minister to give his seat to a 16-year-old girl for a day, are things no one can take away from her. Great work, Caroline and all the best on your next journey!



Blogger: Silvia Pencak, founder & CEO of Powerful Life Consulting, a boutique consulting company located in Ontario, Canada.

Silvia is a consultant, speaker and an award-winning blogger. Her specialty is in change leadership and strategic team development. With hands-on experience on over 500 mission critical initiatives across four continents, Silvia helps business leaders establish proven, actionable strategies to keep essential projects on time, on budget, and on the mark with client expectations. Connect with Silvia at or on Twitter (@SilviaPencak).

How to Thrive Under a Critical Leader

We have all been there. We report to a person who is a workplace bully. No matter how hard you try, at the end of the day, you feel like a failure. Meetings are depressing, work is overwhelming and, despite your best effort, you just can’t seem to please that one person who decides about your paycheque or career. How can you thrive in such a situation despite all that is going on around you?

1. Surround yourself with positive people

Every workplace has good people and bad apples. You need multiple positive people to balance off one bad apple. Find those who will become your cheerleaders will help fuel your fire and keep you excited. You might as well survive that one negative Nelly (or Neil).

2. Keep in mind that some people come into your life as a blessing and some as a lesson

What can you learn from your current situation? Do you need to toughen up? Do you need more patience? Do you need to stand up for yourself? Or do you need to make faster decisions? How can this person help you move forward and upward with your life? What should be your next step?

3. Propose a better plan

There is always a way. You can sit down with your leader or someone else to discuss what’s going on, try to resolve the issue and dissolve the conflict. Come up with a plan of action that changes the status quo. Don’t let things get off the rails, take action and change the circumstances.

4. Be the change

How can you set a different example? Can you be a light in the darkness? Can you bring smile and positivity into your current environment? Can you set an example of how things can be done differently? Your behaviour might inspire others to act differently.

5. Walk away

There are places and situations when you need to have enough courage and self-respect to just walk away. If you have done your best, acted differently, talked, proposed a better plan, and nothing changed, it might be time to move on. None of us can change the other person. If they choose to remain the same and the company is fine with it, your best bet might be to say “enough” to an emotional manipulator and bring your skills where they will be appreciated. It’s a mission impossible to thrive in a toxic environment. Your value is far too great to be wasted.

If you suffered under a critical leader, learn from it and never do this to others under your lead. I encourage you to be a leader who inspires, grows and supports others, helping them to reach their full potential. Choose to blossom into a beautiful rose in spite of those painful thorns.



Blogger: Silvia Pencak, founder & CEO of Powerful Life Consulting, a boutique consulting company located in Ontario, Canada.

Silvia is a consultant, speaker and an award-winning blogger. Her specialty is in change leadership and strategic team development. With hands-on experience on over 500 mission critical initiatives across four continents, Silvia helps business leaders establish proven, actionable strategies to keep essential projects on time, on budget, and on the mark with client expectations. Connect with Silvia at or on Twitter (@SilviaPencak).

What is Your Top Ten?

David Letterman had a top ten. I have a top ten. Do you?

To me, the top ten is the list of activities you need to incorporate into your life on a regular basis that lead to a feeling of greater fulfillment and overall well being.

My Top Ten includes:

  1. Have a massage or spa treatment at least once a month.
  2. Go on a date night with my hubby every two weeks.
  3. Plan a few moments every day to do something enjoyable by myself. This could be reading or going to a Starbucks and indulging in a latte while people watching.
  4. Exercise every day for at least 45 minutes.
  5. Eat nutritious food, but have one night a week (usually Saturday nights!) that is my cheat night.
  6.  Spend time with others I love.
  7.  Do something kind for someone else every day. That could be sending a note to someone or taking the time to hold the door for a stranger while smiling.
  8. Plan a fun vacation several times a year.
  9.  Meditate 5 times a week or more.
  10.  Listen to uplifting music. I have quite an eclectic taste in music. I am a country girl by birth so I like country music. I also like AC/DC and my kids keep me up-to-date on all the latest pop music that I must admit, I really like too!

Think about what activities make you feel alive. Many of them may even feel like a luxury. But when you stop to think about it, you really should be pampering yourself. We invest in our education, our homes, but we tend to overlook investing in our most valuable asset. Take care of your well-being and happiness. Trust me, the payoff will be worth it! Now, go ahead, and create your own Top 10!

Blogger: Carey-Ann Oestreicher, Chief Engagement Officer, Potential Unlimited

Recipient of a Top 40 Under Forty Business Achievement award, Carey-Ann Oestreicher, owner of the career development firm for women, Potential Unlimited (, holds an MBA and has worked in a variety of senior positions including vice-president level. Her focus is her family and helping women in business find true peace and happiness in their lives while achieving new heights in their careers.

Carey-Ann has been featured in a variety of media because of the success she has experienced with her holistic approach to developing women leaders and entrepreneurs. Her appearances include: CTV’s Canada AM, TSN, CBC News, Global Television, City TV News, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business magazine, The Toronto Star and The Canadian Press.

How to Succeed at Digital Transformation

WXN Digital Brand Ambassador Karima-Catherine Goundiam shares important steps businesses and organizations must take to succeed at digital transformation. 

In a previous article shared on LinkedIn, I addressed how digital companies are seen from a customer’s perspective. Today’s post addresses the complexities of transformations that occur within an organization. To make a successful digital transformation, McKinsey Quarterly addresses several key points.

1. What direction is best?

The choice of where a business will go needs to be based on the future instead of on the present. Digital innovations are constantly evolving to transform how customers interact with brands and businesses. Being stuck in the present will limit the imagination and creativity an organization can tap into, which will, in turn, limit its future growth.

Fifteen years ago, many of today’s internet stocks didn’t even exist. The same will be true fifteen years from now. By looking to the future, you’ll have an easier time choosing the best possible direction.

 2. Who will lead?

Transformation is not a project to delegate. The CEO and the supporting executive team need to take it up directly. CEOs are responsible for their organization’s vision and direction. The executive team is responsible for implementing that vision and direction. Sometimes team members may resist this leadership. That is why putting the right team of people in place to drive the change beforehand is critical to a successful transformation.

Teams don’t need to be large to drive great success. For instance, Starbucks has adopted numerous digital initiatives since 2005 with a team of three executives leading the way.

3. How will you sell the vision to stakeholders?

Communication is critical to success, but it’s not the only element you need to address. Deciding who receives the communication and who offers it will also affect how your stakeholders accept the information.

You need crisp, clear messages in all relevant channels and formats. The goal of communication is often to inform, but what you should really be accomplishing with your communication is creating allies. By bringing your stakeholders on board with the transformation, you’ll begin to form a culture of change.

4. Where will you position the organization?

It’s easy to say something like, “I want to be the best social media integration company in the world.” Unfortunately, having the desire is often seen as the equivalent to having already accomplished the goal, and that encourages digital to fail. You need to be completely honest about the skills, capabilities and technologies that are available to your organization and how these fit within the industry.

Honest information will help you reach realistic decisions. Being overconfident will lead to poorly structured decisions.

Remember that being aggressive is not the same as being overconfident. If you consider your brand’s and business’s full scope of strengths and weaknesses in terms of resources for every decision, you can transform quickly and successfully.

5. Who makes decisions?

 Somebody needs to take responsibility for a final decision. Businesses are not generally democracies. When push comes to shove, the CEO, president, or designated decision-maker must be willing to make the tough calls.

To ensure that the choices being made are positive and encourage transformation, you must collect information through analytics and create meaningful metrics. The executive team should be filtering this need down to their direct reports. Then, you can summarize the information, put it into a meaningful format, and communicate it to the CEO or designated decision-maker.

 6. How are you going to allocate funds?

Business leaders already allocate funds to make sure resources get to where they’re needed every day. In a digital transformation, however, these allocations need to happen faster.

Instead of operating as a standard business, it may be useful to operate more like a venture capitalist. This helps you stop immediately if they don’t promote the mission or vision that you’re creating through the transformation process.

Shifting to a VC-style of operations also means speeding up the budgeting cycle. Many organizations operate on an annual cycle. With a digital transformation, it can be beneficial to shift to a monthly cycle so that funds are available when needed.

7. When should you take action?

You need to take action now. Even though up to 70% of digital transformation programs fail, many businesses will also fail if they have not sought out digital.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the risk vs. reward calculations before going all-in. You want to be able to take advantage of what digital can provide so that you can increase revenues and reduce costs. Then the gains that you make can be reinvested into the transformation process so that the business continues to grow.

“Going digital” is often treated as a catchphrase. But digital is more than having a website or being able to accept online orders. The Digital Revolution requires brands and businesses to look at what they do in a very different way so that they can meet their customers’ needs right now.

Redefining Leadership with Disruption and Humanity

“Regardless of where you work or what you do, it’s really important to always change the way you approach things. . . .Redefining what we do and how we do it, shows the evolution of our society and its needs,” says Top 100 Winner, Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia.

In her recent insightful TedxKelowna talk, Bahr-Gedalia challenges us to redefine our traditional perception and understanding of leadership using two key qualities – disruption and humanity. The outcome, she says, can be extraordinary.

Bahr-Gedalia was joined at TedXKelowna by fellow Top 100 Winner Tasha Kheiriddin – find her heartfelt talk on how autism can make a better world here.

Top Leadership Takeaways From Lainey Lui

If we had to sum up our cocktail event last month with Lainey Lui in three words, they would be: inspiring, insightful, and candid. The successful founder of held nothing back as she gave a rare, behind-the-curtain look at a day in her life. Although celebrities like Brad and Angelina were name-checked at the event, it was the gossip maven’s reflections on building a successful, female-driven business that took centre stage.

Find our three top leadership takeaways from Lainey Lui below, along with the event’s signature drink recipe and a ticket giveaway for our next Speaker Series.

  1. Passion Is Key

It would be an understatement to say Lainey Lui has a lot on the go, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. The Co-host of CTV’s The Social, Senior Correspondent for eTalk, and founder and scribe of LaineyGossip.comembraces her jam-packed schedule because she truly enjoys what she is doing. Her dedication and passion for her work is infectious. “I have the luxury and the privilege of doing several jobs that I love.” – Lainey Lui

  1. Pay It Forward

In addition to her hard work and passion, Lainey credits her success to female mentors who guided and supported her. As a result, she has made it her mission to help other women rise to the top and reach their career goals. “There are many women who have given me opportunities, so I take it very seriously to give opportunities to other women. features nine female voices, these voices are diverse and through a number of different backgrounds.” – Lainey Lui

  1. Be Vulnerable and Seek Allies

Lainey speaks openly about the struggles she has overcome and relatable challenges that she continues to face as a female entrepreneur. Even with millions of views per month, she shares that some still question the value of her gossip site (we direct those that have this view to Lainey’s fascinating Ted Talk about gossip’s role in society) and fail to take her seriously as a business owner. To work through these challenges, Lainey wants women to start having more serious discussions about their work struggles and lean on each other for solutions, encouragement, and community. “As many challenges that I may have or you may have, I hope that we all have some allies and that these allies are woman.” – Lainey Lui

Peachy Sangria Recipe + Speaker Series Ticket Giveaway

The signature cocktail at our Lainey Lui event was a refreshing, “Peachy Sangria” made with fresh peaches and blueberries. Enjoy the recipe below from our event host  2nd Floor Events. What’s your favourite summer drink? Tweet us at @WXN with your answer for the chance to WIN two free tickets to our next Cocktail Speaker Series event!

Ingredients (per glass)

4 oz. Dry White Wine

1 oz. Peach Schnapps

0.5 oz. Cherry Brandy

1 oz. Soda

Fresh Peaches





In a large bowl, put fresh peaches and oranges together with Peach Schnapps and Cherry Brandy. Leave this covered in the fridge overnight to allow liquors to soak into fruit. Fill wine glass with ice and soaked fruit (2-3 pieces of fruit per glass). Pour in wine and liquors, and top with soda. Garnish glasses with fresh raspberries and blueberries for colour and enjoy!

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden with Alayne Metrick – President, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

Alayne Metrick – President, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

by Brian G. Bachand

MICHAEL’S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION President, Alayne Metrick, sees passion as a driver in professional success. A strong advocate for mentorship and celebrating team success, Alayne has been at the helm of hospital foundations for over three decades, leading successful campaigns through inspirational engagement. Reflecting on the industry talent gender shift and trends on the horizon, Boyden’s Brian G. Bachand sat down with Alayne to talk leadership, diversity, team drivers and advice to the next generation of leaders.

BOYDEN: As a leader in fundraising and corporate development, how has your alignment with mission-based organizations guided your career?

ALAYNE: You have to really believe in the mission and the good you are doing. You feel the sincere difference with every gift brought in and with every accomplishment that the institution achieves. People are in the hospital field because they want to save and change lives, and you feel part of that. It’s not like there is the organization and then there is you—it’s like we are one.

BOYDEN: How does that translate into your leadership style?

ALAYNE: I have two expressions I use: 1) how you do business really matters and 2) nobody has to give us time or money. You’re not in it for a transaction—you’re in it for a relationship. So creating an environment where people want to give you time actually determines how you do business.

BOYDEN: Your team is a collection of leadership, administration, and clinical leaders and practitioners yet you have had great success in campaign participation across all levels. How do you motivate and inspire?

ALAYNE: Acknowledging everyone’s part in a campaign’s success is important because no one person can do it alone. It’s about creating excitement and bringing people in. When you bring people into the strategy, they’re part of it and they understand the complexity. Everyone’s job is different, but we’re all fundraisers and it takes all of us to get the job done. As a leader, you are the number one cheerleader. It’s your job to think, give constructive criticism and motivate the team towards a successful outcome.

BOYDEN: What role does mentoring play?

ALAYNE: Everyone has their gifts. It gives you a great sense of pride to see where people go that you have mentored and worked with. For instance, an individual who worked with me for 17 years recently became the president of a foundation and she is doing a terrific job. I’m grateful that many of the people I have worked with are stellar and that’s what a team is about—they may have strengths that you don’t have and can give you advice. It’s a great sense of accomplishment to see people do the job well.

BOYDEN: What does diversity look like in the healthcare industry?

ALAYNE: What’s interesting now in our profession is that about 80% of the people are women. When I started, about 65% of people in the field were men. Today, we have more female leaders than men—these are all great things. But that is a creating another challenge—we are now not attracting men who are starting out in their career. I believe it’s because traditionally the salaries were lower unless you were in the top jobs and I think we need to balance that.

BOYDEN: Reflecting on your career, what has been the greatest change compared to when you started out?

ALAYNE: One is how competitive the marketplace has become in terms of talent. There is a whole lot more professionalism in the field as donor expectations have changed and the deliverables are different. People are jumping around from place to place more than ever and training has fallen to the wayside. There needs to be more of an emphasis on that.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

ALAYNE: Number one, you have to work hard. You have to be on it. It is your opportunity to go for it and you need to love what you do, but also have some balance in your life. Secondly, seek out people who are out there who can give you advice on how to get there. And, finally, realize it’s not going to be perfect.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on the Boyden website.


About the author:

Brian G. Bachand, Partner is part of Boyden’s Toronto team. A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @BbachandG @BoydenCanada