How Tara Wilson Promotes Empowerment

Tara Wilson, SVP and General Manager at Paysafe’s Income Access is a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Top 100 Award Winner. Here’s her story:

Defining powerfully empowered

Being powerfully empowered is a responsibility. This includes developing both internal and external relationships. When done successfully, it can help build a brand of integrity, trust and inclusion. As someone who advocates for those values in the workplace, I feel a responsibility to empower, encourage and inspire people in their professional and personal lives. I am one of the lucky individuals who’s had strong advocates in my career for guidance and support when I wanted to give up. Now, it’s my turn to pay it forward.

In previous work environments, it was challenging to be hopeful about long-term career prospects. I wasn’t around many women leaders. To paraphrase Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In author: “I didn’t necessarily believe I deserved a seat at the table. I had imposter syndrome.”

Lean In was an eye-opener for me. It was the first time imposter syndrome, which describes those believing that their achievements weren’t “earned”, was explained in a way that was digestible. Leaving behind that mindset required continuous learning and listening to other people’s stories.

Eventually, I understood and embraced the reasons behind my recognition as a leader: I had earned it by putting in the work. Paysafe recognized my potential and drive and saw me as a person that could add value to our organization because of my passion, experience and skillset. They further encourage me by supporting my continued development.

Empowering individuals

Starting out from a data entry level and working hard to get where I am today, I understand the importance of being down to earth, relatable and open. I’ve been fortunate to hold several positions throughout my career that helped nurture these traits. Those experiences fostered a level of sociability allowing me to easily find common ground with my team, understanding what they go through on the frontline. I strive to share my knowledge gained throughout the years via active mentorship. Currently, I mentor over 20 individuals. Anything I can do to help people evolve their approach to achieving their goals is gratifying.

Working with WXN

Being a Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders award recipient was humbling. Part of that honor included an off-road driving experience on rocky terrain with the other WXN winners. Coincidentally, that experience mirrored the obstacles we sometimes confront throughout our careers.

Moreover, spending time with the winners and WXN CEO Sherri Stevens can’t help but make you feel powerful. If this wasn’t enough, WXN recognized us during an exceptional awards ceremony and through continuous content marketing support thereafter. All to say, they’ve done so much more than give me an award. They’ve connected me to other female leaders, shaping us as advocates for one another and future leaders. If you’re not already a WXN member, you should look at becoming one!

Leadership

The platinum rule, “do unto others as they would want done unto them,” is a rule I abide by in my day-to-day life. For a long time, leaders communicated with others using the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” which I don’t believe is as impactful.

Good leaders understand individuals’ personalities, needs and communication style, which should be reflected when delivering feedback. I strongly believe that the way to get the best employee performance is to treat them the way they need to be treated and not the other way around. Kim Scott’s Radical Candor is a great resource on that topic.

A career-defining moment

In my past, I was asked to speak to vendors to sort out a costly business issue. The call included senior members at a former company (all men besides me). I began talking through my research, when I was interrupted by someone who commented that I shouldn’t “nag” the vendors to make my point. This prompted laughter from all on the call, completely deflating my morale. While I was still able to finish speaking, it was a defining moment in my career because it was finally clear that my contributions to the company weren’t appreciated. In that moment, I decided to move on.

Oftentimes, individuals go through experiences where they must make a similar decision. From my viewpoint, if you’re engaged, trying your hardest and producing quality work, but are not being seen or heard, you must evaluate if the leadership and work culture is a right fit for you.

D&I plans for 2020

Organizational diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives welcome employees’ unique traits. As a Paysafe D&I committee member, I believe that everyone deserves a voice. Those voices extend beyond women in business and include people with both visible and invisible characteristics like age, disability, race, sexual orientation and more.

My plans in 2020 are to elevate those around me by continuing to drive change and having the difficult conversations that may arise along the way.

Tara Wilson, SVP and General Manager at Paysafe’s Income Access is a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Top 100 Award Winner. She has been recognized as Canadian woman between the ages of 30 and 40 who has had successive leadership positions within her organizations and has proven a passion for learning and innovation.

2020 Top 100 Nominations are now open. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and nominate a powerful female or even yourself!


About Tara:

Tara Wilson, SVP and General Manager, Income Access (Paysafe Group)

Tara Wilson

2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders

Tara Wilson has almost two decades’ experience in the tech sphere and 16+ years’ expertise in operational leadership within the payments and marketing sectors.

Tara is both a mentor to others, helping them reach their maximum potential, and an advocate for Diversity & Inclusion, promoting the needs of women in the workplace and other frequently disempowered groups. In recognition of her achievements, Tara took home the 2018 Silver Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year in Canada.

 

I am inspired and feel empowered to change the world

When I received the email that I was selected as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 in the BMO Entrepreneur category, it was an unforgettable moment for me.

I was sitting in a boardroom with about 15 people, deciding on plans for a new development when I received the email from WXN that I was selected as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100. I froze and re-read the email a few times hoping it said what I thought I read. I was suddenly immersed in a different world with two thoughts – I immediately thanked God and put myself into a state of gratitude to God and the universe. I then nudged my brother, Suraj, whom I share a very deep connection with. No words were exchanged, he just looked at me, shared an understanding and we both got up quietly and left the boardroom. We walked out, closed the door, he looks at me with concern in his eyes and said, “Reet?” I quietly yelled, “I GOT TOP 100!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Suraj is my best friend and the reason I am anywhere today. He has been so supportive of me and so it was only suiting that he was the first person to know. He hugged me and said “Dude, I knew you would get this!” We went back into the boardroom and tried to act nonchalant, while inside I was ecstatic!

I have grown up in an industry that has always been male-dominated. I started working at a very young age, in the hotel industry. At this time almost two decades ago, there were so few women in leadership roles, almost nil. I was always working against preconceived notions and judgements that were silently labelled on me, like a child had taped signs to my back that read “She’s the youngest in the room. She’s the only woman. She’s the boss’ daughter”. Dealing with this type of thinking from others at a young age, I taught myself very quickly that I will not work to prove myself to others but rather to prove it to myself. Always working hard to get ahead of the judgements placed on me being a South Asian Woman, this award for me, was the Universe saying, You Did It.

I had two thoughts when I was selected for this award – the first as I mentioned was gratitude. The second was a deep calling that I need to do more, more for women and more for society. I felt this honour is also a responsibility and I want to do everything I can to ensure that I give back and help elevate others. Being selected in the BMO category for entrepreneurs, I spent time with the BMO team and learned about different initiatives the organization has to offer. I was inspired by their efforts towards diversity and so, the day the award was announced, I also launched my company’s first Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. I have also created an internal mentorship program and hope to inspire others to rise in order to achieve their goals. I am inspired and feel empowered to change the world and to inspire others to do the same. I especially hope to inspire women to support one another, to elevate one another and to follow their passion and to achieve their dreams!

I have a Guru from India who has taught me so much when it comes to life and happiness. One of the best lessons I can share is to “Live life with Life”. We must not go through each day as a passing motion but rather live our lives with excitement, with passion, with life. I hope to continue to inspire others to also live life with life!

Reetu Gupta is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the BMO Entrepreneurs category for 2019. She has been recognized as a woman who operates a thriving business in Canada.

2020 Top 100 Nominations are now open. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and nominate a powerful female or even yourself!


About Reetu:

Reetu Gupta is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Easton’s Group of Hotels/The Gupta Group.

Reetu Gupta

2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
BMO Entrepreneurs

Under Reetu Gupta’s leadership The Easton’s Group of Hotels has become one of Canada’s largest private hotel development firms. The Gupta Group is an award-winning residential builder with five million square feet of mixed-used projects currently under development. Reetu is also the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Rogue Insight Capital Ltd., a private venture capital firm. She was recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 winner in 2017.

 

A Top 100 Award Leads Women to That Journey of Success

Humbling. Exhilarating! This is what it felt like to be the winner of one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award.

To be a part of the Top 100 Summit, being amongst the most senior leaders in the industry; to be with them, connect with them, be a part of their discussions, it was a true learning experience.

To come to Canada as an immigrant, to start a business from my basement, to watch it grow into an all-women team and help over 15,000 students find placements in colleges and universities across Canada and around the world… This is a success story for all women, all immigrants, and especially, all immigrant women!

Being a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award winner has re-enforced my belief that “Unless you return the knowledge you have you can’t grow within!” Hence, it’s imperative to continue growing one’s own knowledge. In 2019, I completed my continuing education and graduated. And how do I empower others? As a Co-founder and CEO of Education Consultants Canada (ECC), I recently hired two graduates to be a part of my all-women team. I strongly believe in giving opportunities to students, to do their internship with us and to work with us.

We all do business! But at ECC we aspire to do it a certain way, where our women employees leave with more than just job skills, they are empowered with vital communication and life skills that will carry them throughout their professional and personal journey.

As a winner of a 2019 Top 100 award, it gave the opportunity to experience the Resilience Retreat Workshop conducted by Bank of Montreal. Through interactions and exercises with other award winners, I learned my key leadership strength is empowering my team and I got to take away the feeling of wellness of mind, spirit and body from the workshop as it was about “building resilience from the inside out for women entrepreneurs”.

The theme for the 2019 Top 100 award was ‘A strong woman stands up for herself, but a powerful woman stands up for all of us”. This win is for my all-women’s team! They are the unsung heroes who are young adults just out of school, carrying the enormous responsibility of building, shaping careers, counselling students from all over the world and helping them to integrate into the diverse community.

The path to discovering my personal power as an immigrant woman started with a road-block. I had an academic degree with over 13 years of experience working overseas but could not get my accomplishments recognized when I moved to Canada. It made entering the workforce initially difficult. However, I preferred to look at the obstacles as challenges, and it led to carving a path of untapped opportunity, which has been instrumental in my journey. I wanted to ensure that others who arrived new to Canada didn’t have to face similar struggles, hence, ECC gives opportunities to the novice as a new hire, especially international students. I believe that for students to succeed in their studies in Canada, they have to be armed with right information and the right support structure. I knew I could make an enormous difference, not just to students, but also to Canada! When a student is nurtured to academic success, it paves the way for that student to decide to remain, integrate with the culture and diversity and be a part of the community. THAT is the dream! And ECC helps in aligning that “Canadian dream,” which every immigrant carries with them when leaving their home country.

A Top 100 award win encourages, inspires and recognizes the “unsung heroes”. Women who are pushing boundaries every day and by doing so inspiring and changing lives unknowingly. It is vitally important and a social obligation to give back to the community when one is in a position to do so. It is consequential because only then can one amplify one’s own knowledge, growth and succeed within and outside.

A Top 100 award leads women to “that” journey of success, by giving a forum to share their story of grit, experiences, and personal power that truly allows them to be in sync with diversity, empowerment and inclusion.

Sanchari Sen Rai, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Education Consultants Canada (ECC), is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the BMO Entrepreneurs category for 2019. She has been recognized as a women who owns and operates a thriving business in Canada.

2020 Top 100 Nominations open on International Women’s Day – March 8, 2020. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and nominate a powerful female or even yourself!


About Sanchari:

Sanchari Sen Rai is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Education Consultants Canada (ECC).

Sanchari Sen Rai

2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
BMO Entrepreneurs

Sanchari Sen Rai and her all-women team have helped thousands of international students work through the onerous process of applying to study in Canada, getting accepted and flourishing both academically and in their lives. Sanchari believes it is a vitally important social obligation for businesses to give back to the community when they are in a position to do so.

 

“Powerfully Empowered” isn’t just our theme; it’s our mission

Every year, we pick a theme for our Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards.

It’s a challenging process because the theme represents many aspects of what we do. It reflects who we are as an organization, the accomplishments of our winners, the diversity and inclusion environment as it stands today, the challenges professional women face and the amazing work we’re all doing together to break down barriers for each other.

Picking this year’s theme, “Powerfully Empowered,” was no different. It’s about women who show their power not through their standing, but rather through the way they inspire and champion others, share their knowledge, create change and help others achieve their best. In short, it’s about celebrating women who don’t stand up just for themselves – they stand up for all of us.

As owner and CEO of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) and the Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC), I often travel across Canada to speak with leaders across roles and industries. Through those conversations, I hear one thing over and over: “I don’t feel comfortable with the word power. I don’t feel powerful.

In fact, for many of us, we’re just plain uncomfortable identifying with the word “power” – we may even feel ashamed of it. We equate it to the car we drive, the office we hold, our physical strength, the money we have or the influence we exert. Some of us even attach negative connotations, especially when it refers to a woman.

Should we stop using the word? Quite the opposite – we should use it more, though in a different way. We need to toss out our old relationship to the word and start celebrating real power.

What is real power? It’s not how we lift ourselves up; it’s how we lift up everyone else around us. It’s quiet in its confidence. It’s unselfish and giving. It’s authentic, humble and honest. It’s kind and joyful. It’s shared, not hidden. It’s brave in moments of adversity and difficulty. It’s pushing forward when you feel like giving up. It’s the way we help other people feel powerful.

When I think of some of our most powerful leaders – leaders like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Michele Obama – I realized they all have these traits.

And so does every one of the 110 winners of this year’s Top 100 Awards. They personify this kind of power, across our country and across arts, business, sports, science, entertainment, entrepreneurship, technology, the skilled trades and the public sector. They’re making an impact in their industry while inspiring and empowering others to follow in their footsteps.

Thank you to KPMG in Canada, an empowering organization, for their support and leadership as the Presenting Partner for the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards. As with everything they do, KPMG gives 100 per cent of their support to the recognition and advancement of women. They also give 100 per cent in their partnerships and we are grateful.

This year, “Powerfully Empowered” isn’t just a theme. It’s a call to action for all of us to redefine the word “power” itself, to change the way we think about power in our lives and help others feel powerful in theirs.


To learn more about our 2019 Top 100 Awards, presented by KPMG, visit our Top 100 page.

Presenting Partner:

KPMG Top 100 Presenting Partner

Eyes on the Bigger Prize: Gender Parity

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.

Speak Out

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.

Be Flexible

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.

*https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/employment-and-growth/how-advancing-womens-equality-can-add-12-trillion-to-global-growth

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!

 


About Natalie:

Natalie Dakers is President & CEO of Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator Society.

Dakers, Natalie portrait

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).

 

A Conversation with Copperleaf CEO and Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner Judi Hess

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!

 


About Judi:

Judi Hess is Chief Executive Officer of Copperleaf.

Hess, Judi portrait

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.

Women in STEM and Canadian Energy

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!


About Heather:

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.

Life is a Team Sport

To be honest, I was surprised, and completely honoured to hear I was nominated and selected as a WXN Top 100 Winner for 2018.

It seems that life is always so busy with work, volunteer and family commitments. It’s rare to actually have the time to sit down and think about where you started, what you’ve done, and how far you’ve come.

To me, this achievement is both rewarding and significant. It is a privilege to be in the company of such fantastic, accomplished Canadian women. Each of us has taken our own unique path to get where we are today. Now, here in 2018, one hundred different life paths converge to celebrate this special achievement together. How cool is that?

While I know I have worked many hours, months and years to get where I am today, I am also acutely aware that nobody (no man or woman) achieves success completely on their own. Life is a team sport. I have had so many great mentors, colleagues, family and friends who have cheered me on, taken down barriers, and offered help and support throughout my journey.

While I still feel I have so much more to give, I also recognize there are many youth following behind me that have great potential, who also require support and encouragement along the way. As a proud mother of two teenagers, both a son and daughter, I want to be a positive role model for them, and encourage them to be the best they can be. Ultimately, their challenge will be to apply their gifts and talents towards making their families, businesses, communities, and world a better place. As a bonus, if they can get paid to do that work, what an unbelievable calling and blessing!

I feel I am just starting to bring all of my experience, skills and talents to bear in order to make a significant impact. When a disaster hits, usually those most vulnerable are those most impacted. This doesn’t have to happen. There are resources, best practices, and solutions that can help. After all these years, I now know that my inherent passion is to help individuals, businesses and communities become more disaster-resilient. There is still so much more work to do in this regard. It’s also one of the things that continue to motivate me every day. I am actually looking forward to taking on even bigger challenges and seizing even greater opportunities in the future.

Finally, I am both curious and excited to think about the many men, women and children I still need to meet along my life path. My hope is that through our mutual convergence, we will all be able to leave this world a better place than when we arrived.

Leann Hackman-Carty, Principal for HackmanCarty & Associates, 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 great contribution to Canadian society.

Do you know a female trailblazer who deserves to be recognized for her contribution to Canadian society? Are you a trendsetter 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!


About Leann:

Leann Hackman-Carty is Principal for Hackman-Carty & Associates.

Hackman-Carty, Leann portrait

2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters

For almost thirty years Leann has lead public, private and non-profit organizations through eras of change to new levels of growth and stability. Her specialties are community economic development, business and economic recovery and entrepreneurship. She served as the Mayor of Calgary’s Executive Assistant, Community & Economic Development for over a decade; was VP of Calgary’s economic development group; managed several political election campaigns; provided business development services to the States of Mississippi and Georgia; provided leadership for the Organization of Women in International Trade; offered innovative community business and economic recovery services; hosted numerous high level international trade delegations; built peer advisory boards for women entrepreneurs; and initiated greater working relationships with provincial and international economic development groups. Since 2009, she has provided CEO consulting services to Economic Developers Alberta which is Alberta’s economic development network. Its 300+ members are involved in economic development activities including industry cluster development, tech-led economic development, business retention, expansion, and attraction, workforce development and business and economic recovery. Leann has a BA (Political Science/Sociology), BSW (Community Development), Professional Management Certificate (Marketing) and a Certificate in Economic Development.

Key Accomplishments:

  • In December 2017, Leann released her Master Your Disaster series of readiness, response and recovery guides for families, business and communities which are now available on com both in print, and in Kindle format, audio and Spanish.
  • Completed an Economic Disaster Recovery Project with 10 Alberta communities and Treaty 7 Community Futures (Siksika/Stoney); in partnership with BCEDA and IEDC, The Government of Alberta (Innovation & Advanced Education), Shell, RBC Foundation, the Canadian Red Cross and the US Consulate in Calgary. As part of this project, Leann spearheaded the production of a community toolkit to help them prepare and respond to future economic disruptions.
  • Worked with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on their business and economic recovery efforts, including setting up and running the Wood Buffalo Business Recovery Hotline; validating businesses for Red Cross emergency relief; and leading a 10- member economic development team to complete an economic recovery assessment.
  • Worked with the International Economic Development Council to bring their community resiliency training to bring their community resiliency training to Canada.
  • Established a partnership with the University of Calgary, Continuing Education to launch and develop a Professional Management Certificate with a specialization in Economic Development.
  • Developed strategic plans and annual work plans for various non-profit, and quasi-government organizations.
  • Organized ten very successful annual community economic development conferences, including significant outreach to elected officials. This brings together approximately 400+ attendees, 50 speakers, 5 concurrent streams, 15 sponsors.
  • Spearheaded the “Canadianized” version of IEDC’s Recovery and Resiliency Roadmap: A Toolkit for Economic Preparedness which helps communities prepare for and recover from economic disruptions, whether natural or manmade. Updated the Community Toolkit for Economic Recovery and Resiliency (2017 Canadian Version) with new links, content and case studies.
  • Lead the development of a strategic business plan for a U.S.-based, women’s non-profit with global membership.
  • Crafted a community economic development strategy that provided the framework for future promotional activities, including a major regional cluster development initiative.
  • Completed comprehensive research into federal, provincial and municipal programs and services related to trade and investment
    Organized several focus groups and community forum to obtain input on specific projects and topics.
  • Organized a US-Canada, “Save Our Kids” forum and youth rally to bring attention to the growing issue of designer and prescription drug abuse in youth.
  • Conceptualized and implemented a CIDA-funded project in partnership with the Trade Facilitation Office of Canada, OWIT, and the APEC Women Leaders Network to bring 15 women delegates from CIDA-priority countries to participate in a Miami conference.

Being Your Authentic Self

I’m very honoured to have been selected as one of WXN’s Top 100 Winners for 2018 — and with such illustrious company! To my fellow winners, a heartfelt congratulations. To members of WXN and beyond, a sincere thank you for your support and encouragement throughout the years. While I accept this award graciously, I recognize that we all contribute to each other’s success.

There are ample stories I could share of my professional journey, some funny, some not so humorous, and certainly a boatload of advice. But the one piece of guidance I would like to share is the notion of being your authentic self and finding the passion that drives you.

For me, my passion has always been technology. As a young girl, my mother encouraged me to enter what was then a male-dominated field of study, because I had a genuine curiosity and spark about how things connected in our world, how technology worked to make our lives simpler and faster. Now, with over 35 years of technology and management experience behind me, I recognize that that was the pivotal moment in my life – when someone saw my passion and encouraged me to move forward regardless of what obstacles were present.

As a senior executive, I now have a responsibility to provide the same level of encouragement, inspiration and support to young people looking to own their passion — hopefully in the cyber security space! Having said that, I encourage young people who have a flair for technology to get into cyber security, right now. Companies worldwide are facing a serious talent shortage when it comes to cyber professionals, with more than 1.5 million people needed in this industry by 2020, according to the Information and Communication Technology Council. Currently, women represent only 20 percent of that statistic, so I believe that there is tremendous opportunity for young women in this industry.

I do believe that following your passion and living your authentic self leads to success. We have 100 women [in 2018] who are living proof of that.

Thank you again for this incredible recognition.

Laurie Pezzente, Senior Vice President & Chief Security Officer, Global Cyber Security for Royal Bank of Canada, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the HSBC Corporate Executives Category for 2018. She has been recognized for her senior position in a Canadian public company.

Do you know a woman in a senior position in Canada in a publicly-traded or privately owned company who deserves to be recognized for her achievements? Are you a female corporate executive? 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!

 


About Laurie:

Laurie Pezzente is Senior Vice President & Chief Security Officer, Global Cyber Security for Royal Bank of Canada.

Pezzente, Laurie portrait

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

Laurie Pezzente leads the Global Cyber Security team as SVP and CSO. In partnership with the organization’s executive leadership teams, she directs the development of effective cyber strategies to assess and mitigate risk globally, manage crises and incidents, maintain continuity of operations, and safeguard the organization. She is responsible for deploying state-of-the-art technology solutions and innovative security management techniques to protect RBC, employee and client data, while ensuring appropriate protections are in place to maintain compliance with regulatory and policy requirements.

Laurie represents the bank’s position on cyber security and risk management to the Board, senior executives, customers, external partners, and government agencies. She is accountable for information security risk and global security operations, including incident response, and operational risk management across the technology & operations portfolio, and ultimately, for building RBC’s resiliency and protection against cyber-attacks.

Laurie Pezzente is an IT professional with over 25 years of IT experience, managing budgets in excess of $500 MM, with a solid track record of building strong relationships, encouraging creativity and excellence. Laurie has extensive experience in IT application development, Information Security, IT GRC and process improvement.

As a former CISO at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Laurie was responsible for IT risk, policy and standard design, implementation and governance for Enterprise IT security. As a senior executive, Laurie represented the banks security position to the Board, senior executive leaders and external government agencies on issues regarding IT security and overall IT risk management. She was responsible for assessing overall security risk, developing strategies and leading programs to mitigate specific areas of vulnerability, and providing risk assessment of 3rd party activities with significant IT components. Laurie is recognized as a thought leader in IT GRC with execution expertise in Information Security, SOX, Disaster Recovery, IT Governance and Technology standards.

Laurie lives in Oakville with her husband and two sons.

Winning this Award Provides a Platform

Amanda HobsonFirst impressions of the big WIN

This is an incredible honour. Being named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women is a pretty big deal. It “puts you on the map”, opens doors and provides opportunities.

I was quite surprised when I first learned of my nomination for this award. I think it was the word “powerful” that threw me off. It is not a word I would have used to describe myself. After getting over the initial shock, I felt immense pride and joy. Then my mind turned to what I will do with this honour, how I will recognize it and share it with others.

So how will I pay it forward?

Winning this award provides a platform, an opportunity to celebrate and shine the light on the success of others. At the recent Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit, someone said, “Once you make it to the top, don’t forget to send the elevator back down.”

The first thing I’m going to do is put forward a nomination of my own for [this] year. It took me about 2 seconds to decide whom I would nominate. (Don’t ask – it’s a secret!) I know many worthy candidates and I’m so excited to support them and share the pride and joy I’ve felt from my own experience. There is so much for me to be thankful for and I have come to realize that the best way to show my gratitude is to pay it forward. I encourage others to submit a nomination for [this] year as well.

Secondly, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and celebrate some exceptional women I know on their own recent successes:

  • Sarah Fotheringham – my dear friend has been invited to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City by the UN Programme on Youth to present her research on women’s social enterprise and inform the upcoming UN Youth Strategy focusing on youth social entrepreneurship. Talk about impactful work…!
  • Gwen Hardy – Managing Partner of Elettra Communications – the Public Relations brain behind Kennedy Stewart’s mayoral race for the City of Vancouver (always behind the scenes, Gwen is an unsung hero if there ever was one).
  • Crystal Prystai – VP and Corporate Controller, Teck – one of the most brilliant accounting minds I’ve ever worked with (speaking of unsung heroes) just promoted into the senior ranks of the largest diversified mining company in Canada (in an undeniably male-dominated industry).

I’d like to give a shout-out to WXN – an incredible organization that brings women together to share in each others’ journeys and successes. It is truly an honor to become a part of this community. The best part of winning this award is the opportunity to meet so many wonderful and inspiring people. Thank you, WXN!

Finally, I would like to recognize my husband, Wayne, and the rest of my incredible support network of family, friends and colleagues. I cannot even begin to describe the love and support I have had along my journey and I am so grateful for you all.

This experience has been humbling, enriching and exciting. Most of all, it has been inspiring, and I can’t wait to pay it forward.

Amanda Hobson, CFO and VP, Finance and Corporate Services for BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC), is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the Public Sector Leaders Category for 2018. She has been recognized her hard work and leadership while holding a senior position in one of  Canada’s public sector organizations.

On November 21 we will honour women in many categories, including Public Sector Leaders and Intact Professionals.  The Intact Professionals Award celebrates recognizes women who are professionals in practice and play a leadership role within their organizations. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and don’t forget in 2020 to nominate a powerful female or even yourself!

 


About Amanda:

Amanda Hobson is Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services for BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC).

Hobson, Amanda portrait

2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
Public Sector Leaders

Amanda is a senior finance professional with more than 20 years of diverse experience in large and international private, public and public sector organizations. Recognized as 2017 BC CFO of the Year in the Emerging Leader category by Business in Vancouver and CPABC, Amanda is passionate about inspiring and motivating others to achieve strategic objectives and organizational excellence. Amanda currently serves on the boards of the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation and the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation.