On being named a Top 100 winner – the two women who inspired Caroline Riseboro

When I was told that I’d been selected as one of WXN’s Most Powerful Women last year my first thought was of my mother and grandmother —  two women who always serve as my original and continual inspiration, who were trailblazers in their own rights.

My grandmother came from a working-class family in England, and during the War she had to leave school at 14 to work. When she married at only 19, she was told she couldn’t work anymore. But she always knew she wanted a better life for herself, so with a tiny bit of money she started a business in the late 1950s and it became quite successful.

My mother was also a strong and brave business owner and always took chances. She was willing to constantly change and evolve to advance her career.

Both always pushed against the grain – and every day I try to channel that defiant spirit. Whenever I face barriers or feel deflated by the sheer amount of discrimination women and girls face around the world, I try to tap into that spirit and remember how far we have come. And how much we owe to women like my grandmother and mother, who were willing to defy normal and demand a fair shake.

I felt the award belonged to them.

This year, after receiving the honour once again (joining the Top 100 Alumni, made up of a stellar group of women) my first thought was of all the women I have had the pleasure of both mentoring and learning from throughout my career, particularly the incredible Plan International Canada girl ambassadors and advocates I have worked with over the last three years in my role as CEO & President.

Women and girls, who just like my mother and grandmother, continue to face barriers, hurdles, and glass ceilings when pursuing their dreams – despite it being the 21st century.

Women who dream of defying.

I read a quote by Steve Jobs recently that really resonated with me. “If you want to make everyone happy don’t be a leader, sell ice cream.”. Women and girls are always conditioned to be nice – to be liked above all else. This is something I have personally struggled with. At the same time, men and boys are taught that to change the world they should be prepared to ruffle feathers.

The women and girls I work with are constantly and unapologetically ruffling feathers. When normal is girls denied equality, they refuse to accept this status quo, they choose instead to defy normal.

But this can be lonely, often punishing work. That is why groups like WXN play a critical role in the advancement of women’s rights. Through my membership in WXN I have witnessed first-hand the incredible power of solidarity and sisterhood. It provides a space where us fellow feather-rufflers and defiant woman can come together and grow our strength and resilience.

As the inimitable Maya Angelou once said, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” Imagine the power women exercise when we knowingly stand up and stand together for our collective rights.

With my mother and grandmother behind me, I feel powerful. With a sisterhood behind me, I know I am unstoppable.

Join Caroline and become a WXN Member today. Witness the power and solidarity of the Women’s Executive Network to grow your career and expand your horizons.


About Caroline:

Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO, PLAN International Canada

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

Caroline Riseboro is the President & CEO of Plan International Canada – the leading NGO in Canada advancing the rights of children and equality for girls. As the youngest person to ever lead a major Canadian charity, Caroline is a passionate advocate for gender equality and is well-respected for her commitment to tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues.

She has a proven track record of leading organizations to new heights by challenging the status quo. In 2017, she was recognized as a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner and was awarded the Bronze medal in the Woman of the Year – Government or Non-Profit category at the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Caroline regularly writes and speaks on the topic of gender equality and under her leadership, Plan International Canada has delivered record- breaking results.

Prior to joining Plan International Canada, Caroline was Senior Vice-President, Marketing & Development at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation, and held many senior roles at World Vision Canada, more recently as Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Engagement at World Vision Canada. She was the first and youngest woman in the agency’s history to serve in this senior role. Before joining the non-profit sector, Caroline began her career in advertising and communications.

Caroline’s influence in the sector extends through her voluntary leadership roles. She sits on the Board of the Humanitarian Coalition and CAN-WaCH, is the President-elect for the Association of Fundraising Professionals GTA chapter, and has sat on numerous task forces including with Imagine Canada and the Canadian Marketing Association’s Not-For-Profit Council. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from McGill University and is pursuing a Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership from Carleton University.

You can reach Caroline on Twitter at:
@criseboro
@PlanCanada

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.