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The Influencers

Meet the women influencing how we invest, learn, work and do business in B.C.

VANCITY’S TAMARA VROOMAN Barriers aboriginal business women face and a look at the artists behind the so-called “maker movement” celebrate

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the next generation Girls who code and a program that helps women transition into retirement



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“ A career in Human of opportunity to make HR is a fantastic career choice for students because it gives them an opportunity to work with so many parts of an organization and impact the actual business results.”

Heather Briant, CHRE Senior Vice President, Human Resources Cineplex Entertainment

career in focus

When it comes to practicing human resources, Certified Human Resources Professional, Leader, and Executive designations: the new global standard for HR excellence and professionalism. These quality designations command respect and reflect the people-driven strategies HR professionals contribute to organizational success. The CHRP, Canada’s best-known and only national HR designation, is now available exclusively from HRPA. P U T YOU R C AR E E R IN FOCUS

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I’M EARLY. I’M NEW. I’M SCARED. I WANT MY MOM. Skin-to-skin bonding is as important as all the medical supports in the world. BC Women’s NICU will be the first in North America to keep moms and newborns together so both receive the medical care they need, while never being apart. IT’S REVOLUTIONARY CARE.

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Meet the six female leaders making a difference at organizations across B.C. — and hear their advice for the next generation


FEATURES How to make a leader


2017 Influential Women in Business honourees 15


Hands-on entrepreneurs are crafting the business model for sustainability

What women want in the ‘third chapter’ of life 30 Breaking economic barriers for aboriginal women 32 Girl code


‘Making’ the business case for upcycling 42


32 BREAKING ECONOMIC Tamara Vrooman—7

Barinder Rasode—36

Shirley Vickers—40

Samantha Reynolds—46


12 THE NOW GENERATION We introduce you to a handful of female entrepreneurs making their mark

It’s time to create the conditions where more aboriginal women can step into leadership roles



More women are pursuing careers in tech

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Editor’s message



Pia Huynh, Laura Torrance, Chris Wilson

DESIGN: Randy Pearsall PRODUCTION: Rob Benac WRITERS: Jane Armstrong,

Michelle Hopkins, Dene Moore, Barinder Rasode, Samantha Reynolds, Shirley Vickers, Tamara Vrooman, Hayley Woodin PROOFREADER: Meg Yamamoto ADVERTISING SALES: Dean Hargrave, Pia Huynh, Blair Johnston, Joan McGrogan, Steve Micolino, Corinne Tkachuk, Laura Torrance, Chris Wilson ADMINISTRATORS: Katherine Butler, Marie Pearsall



Michelle Myers RESEARCH: Anna Liczmanska, Carrie Schmidt

Women in Business 2017 is published by BIV Magazines, a division of BIV Media Group, 303 Fifth Avenue West, Vancouver, B.C., V5Y 1J6, 604-688-2398, fax 604-688-1963, Copyright 2017 Business in Vancouver Magazines. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or incorporated into any information retrieval system without permission of BIV Magazines. The publishers are not responsible in whole or in part for any errors or omissions in this publication. ISSN 1205-5662 Publications Mail Agreement No: 40069240. Registration No: 8876. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Circulation Department: 303 Fifth Avenue West, Vancouver, B.C. V5Y 1J6 Email: Cover photos: Chung Chow

n this issue, we celebrate Business in Vancouver’s 2017 Influential Women in Business honourees, while also featuring some of our city’s next generation of female leaders, as well a program that helps business leaders transition into retirement. Let’s start with the influential women who are featured on the cover and inside the magazine. They include Copperleaf Technologies CEO Judi Hess, BCIT president Kathy Kinloch, BC Pension Corp. CEO Laura Nashman, Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator CEO Natalie Dakers, EMBERS CEO Marcia Nozick and Martha Piper, past president and vice-chancellor at UBC, as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. In the pages ahead, you’ll learn more about each of these outstanding businesswomen, their thoughts on the elusive concept of work-life balance and advice they have for the next generation of female leaders. T h is ed ition a lso i ncludes some i nsig htf u l g uest colu m ns f rom busi nesswomen across a ra nge of

industries, including Vancity CEO Tamara Vrooman; Samantha Reynolds, founder and president of Echo Storytelling Agency; Shirley Vickers, CEO of the BC Innovation Council; and Barinder Rasode, director of social responsibility at Resource Works and chairwoman and co-founder of SheTalks. Find out what each has to say about business and leadership, from her particular industry point of view. We also have an article on the Minerva Foundation’s Leaders in Transition program, which helps female leaders navigate through retirement, as well as a look at how economic inequality and high rates of violence have been a barrier for aboriginal women in business – and work being done to break those barriers. We also have stories on female coders and artists behind the so-called “maker movement.” It’s a broad range of content that is relevant to women in business today – and in future. We hope you enjoy this issue and welcome your feedback and any ideas for the next issue of Women in Business.

Brenda Bouw Editor, Women in Business




Meet the women influencing how we invest, learn, work and do business in B.C.

VANCITY’S TAMARA VROOMAN Barriers aboriginal business women face and a look at the artists behind the so-called “maker movement”

 ,/ ÊÊUÊÊ1

THE NEXT GENERATION Girls who code and a program that helps women transition into retirement / ÊÊUÊÊ

Call Marie at 604-608-5158 or email Ca Space Sp Close: August 4, 2017


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By the numbers


ore women are starting to take their rightful place in boardrooms and leadership positions across Canada, but progress is slow. That’s despite a growing body of research showing gender diversity isn’t just the right thing to do in today’s

society, but also helps companies do better financially. Here are some stats to consider:


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27







28TH 29 30 31 32 33 34




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WE’VE BEEN COMPLACENT ABOUT WOMEN IN BUSINESS Tamara Vrooman | Female leaders make companies more profitable, so why has there been so little progress on equality at work?

S We struggle to achieve equality in the home, and until that happens, we aren’t going to get it in any meaningful way at work

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ome years ago, soon after I took the job of CEO at Vancity, I was driving my son in our car. He must have been about six at the time and we were talking about numbers. He was learning about them at school, and I was explaining as best I could how I used them at work. After a long pause, he offered a fascinating question from the back seat: “Mom, can boys be CEOs too?” It was an extraordinary, counterintuitive moment. During our conversation that day he was sincere about learning new things and maybe one day following in my footsteps. For him, gender appeared to be his only barrier. Obviously, he was innocently unaware that it’s most often women rather than men who face discrimination at work, and I would love for him to grow up in a world where gender doesn’t matter. But that world doesn’t yet exist and, at the current rate of change, it’s not likely to any time soon. The Minerva Foundation for BC Women has revealed in a Vancity-sponsored report that it will take 75 years before women can expect to achieve professional parity in Canada. How is it that we as a society can have talked so much about gender equality and diversity, and yet achieved so little? I think it’s because we’ve become complacent. Without making a genuine commitment to change, we’ve assumed that because social attitudes have been improving, professional outcomes for women must have improved too. We tend to use a few good examples of women’s leadership and extrapolate a wider success. That’s a problem. Sexist attitudes still exist and action on gender equa l ity va ri e s c o n s i d e r a b l y a m o n g e mployers. I do k now m a ny t h at actively support women’s leadership, but unfortunately, even at these

progressive companies, women continue to self-select out when it comes to promotion. I suspect one of the reasons for this is that we’re not looking broadly enough at the context of people’s lives. When we’re at our best, we have equality in the workplace, in theory at least. But we struggle to achieve equality in the home, and until that happens, we aren’t going to get it in any meaningful way at work. While many families are taking a more egalitarian approach to domestic responsibilities, the reality is that the job of building a home, and caring for children is still primarily seen as women’s work. We haven’t made affordable child care a priority and we persist in classifying it as an exclusively social issue, rather than a business and economic one as well. I’ve heard anecdotally that men are grappling with some of the same issues women have been dealing with for decades. Those men who take parental leave or stay at home to raise children worry that it will limit their career progression and that they’ll lose the respect of peers, in-laws and parents. This should concern all of us, and it’s why Vancity commissioned research at the University of British Columbia to understand men’s attitudes toward parental leave and balancing their career progression. The results, due to be released soon, should make for interesting reading. There’s no getting away from the fact that men and women don’t live in isolation – we need to talk about men’s choices too. The key task for employers is to adapt to the needs of their employees, whatever their gender identity or family arrangements. But the challenge here is broader than human resource plans, employer attitudes or even women’s ability to balance work and family life. It affects the entire economy.

If we can begin to make progress towards gender equality, the rewards are clear, according to a presentation by McKinsey & Co. at a recent Minerva inclusive leadership forum: ■If every country reached the regional best practice in gender equality, global GDP would rise 11 per cent. ■Top-qu a r t i le compa n ies for women’s representation in executive committees see up to a 55 per cent increase in earnings versus companies with zero or low levels of women’s participation in executive committees. ■Women tend to demonstrate more often than men five of the nine types of leadership behaviour that improve organizational performance. These days my son realizes that it’s rare to have a CEO for a mom. I only hope that we’ll see more good examples for kids like him to follow, and not just female ones. We also need to give men the social and financial licence to be role models as child-care providers and stay-at-home dads. Basically, we can figure this out the easy way, relatively speaking, or we can figure it out the hard way. The easy way is to take much more effective action to improve employment practices, child-care policies and social attitudes. The hard way is that we come to realize too late that we’ve lost our competitiveness, that we can no longer attract the best talent or that we’ve made investments in people and then lost them just when they were reaching their full potential. I know which choice I’d make. É Tamara Vrooman is CEO of Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union.

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A LEADER The case for cultivating female leaders


nce, power was considered a masculine attribute. In fact, power has no sex. When Katharine Meyer Graham said it, it was aspirational.

It’s been four decades since Graham became the first in the past. But a lot of the data is showing that they’re female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, taking the helm choosing not to take them, for various reasons.” of the Washington Post. Studies show women in Canada still make 72 cents on the dollar, compared to men, Earthy points out. Since she broke through the glass ceiling, she’s had some stellar company. Every year, women rise to a greater Women are coming out of professional programs in equal number of leadership roles in corporate British Columbia, or even greater numbers than men, she says. “But we’re Canada and North America. losing a lot of women mid-career, and it’s not just because That’s the good news. of child care. I think that’s a misperception,” Earthy says. “It’s simply because they’re making other choices, more But women still account for just 5.3 per cent of Canadian CEOs and hold only 15.9 per cent of board seats in S&P/ around the environment. They’re motivated by different TSX 60 companies. things; they don’t necessarily want to play in the power “It’s not great news,” says Jill Earthy, vice-chair of the game but would rather go to the side and create someWomen’s Enterprise Centre and co-author of the report thing new.” Women as a Catalyst for Economic Growth: A British In B.C., the numbers are – slightly – better. Among B.C.’s 50 largest organizations, the average Columbia Action Plan. “There’s great work that’s been done, we’ve female representation on the board of directors made so much progress,” she says. “Certainly, and the average percentage of women in senior women do have way more opportunities than DENE MOORE management positions were both 20 per cent

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– better than the Toronto Stock Exchange, Canadian and global benchmarks. And 16 of the 50 had policies in place to promote hiring and career development for women. But of 36 companies that provided information on their boards of directors, 31 per cent had no women on those boards, and of 45 that disclosed information on senior executives, 36 per cent did not have any women in those ranks. Just 12 per cent had a female CEO. The glacial pace of improvement makes it unlikely that Canada will reach the federal government’s goal of 30 per cent female board members by 2019. A challenge remains in persuading not just corporate leaders, but women themselves, to improve on those numbers. “Even having females on our teams, in our workforce, is a struggle sometimes because there’s not enough women applying for jobs,” says Tammy Meyers, co-founder of QuestUpon, a virtual reality technology company. Meyers is the only woman in her 10-person company, despite having a CEO who is dedicated to improving gender balance. “We don’t get females putting their resumés in so we don’t have that to even hire from,” she says. “I think it’s every company you talk to in the tech industry. They’re few and far between where you’re going to find a balanced workforce in a tech company.” The gender gap in tech is well known, but forestry and oil and gas have the worst gender diversity performance in industry, according to the Minerva Foundation’s report. Educating company officials is important, Meyers says, but so is educating young women and girls about their potential career options. “Definitely, when I go to events or conferences or anything tech-related, the room is primarily filled with men, which is fine. I still find myself counting, ‘How many women are here?’” she says. The CEOs of 17 B.C. organizations have signed the Minerva Foundation’s Face of Leadership Pledge, a commitment to promote women into leadership positions. One of those companies is Goldcorp. Anna Tudela joined the B.C.-based mining giant in 2005, two decades into her career in the traditionally male-dominated industry. “My first mining conference I walked into the room and I left because I thought, ‘Oh, I’m in the wrong place,’” recalls the company’s vice-president of diversity and regulatory affairs and corporate secretary. “I went to reception and I asked, ‘Can you please tell me the room for the mining conference?’ and they said, ‘You just came from there. I thought, OK, there’s no women in there.” In 2010, following a flurry of acquisitions by Goldcorp that took Tudela back to her native Peru and throughout South America, she had an idea. “I realized that what I had left, many years ago when I emigrated from Peru,… was exactly the same,” she says. “Women were not taken into consideration to the level that a woman is taken into consideration in North America

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– not given the opportunities to succeed in a career.” She wanted that to change, and she had Goldcorp’s support. She began by convincing mine managers in the region that their operations could benefit from leadership training for women. Once everyone was on board, Tudela realized she needed a program and didn’t have one. Working with women throughout the company and leadership experts, Goldcorp custom-built Creating Choices, which debuted in 2011. Today, more than 1,350 women have completed the program. Despite some cultural challenges in both an industry and region of the world that have traditionally been very male-dominated, it was not difficult to find women who wanted in. “It was incredible,” Tudela says. At the first mine, in Guatemala, 250 women enrolled. “It was almost like they were starving for something like this,” she says. Graduates have access to a one-year mentoring program. “The program is not aimed at changing your job if that’s not what you want to do. But if you want to do that, if you want to climb the ladder … it gives you the skills and the tools to do it,” she says. Graduates wanted more, and in 2014, the Growing Choices program was introduced. A third module, Future Choices, is in the works. Tracking any resulting shift is challenging, she says, but two impact assessments found that women who took part in the programs have been more likely to request promotions and take on new jobs. Goldcorp has just completed its first diversity survey, to provide a baseline not just on gender but on diversity overall that can be tracked as the company tries to address equality issues. It was the first mining company to have such a program for women. “By now, I would hope somebody else has a program similar to ours,” says Tudela, who adds spearheading the program has been a rewarding experience. “This was something I did because I truly believe this is something we needed to do,” she says. Despite its commitment to closing the gender gap at home and abroad, Vancouver-based Goldcorp has just one female senior executive, according to the Minerva scorecard, accounting for 10 per cent of the upper ranks. Three of its 11 board members are female. The case for cultivating female leaders is not just altruistic. There is an economic imperative, too, says Earthy. “Diversity is good for the bottom line. It’s an economic opportunity, versus a women’s issue,” she says. “It’s about diversity of thought. You want gender diversity and you also want the diversity in the backgrounds and cultures, and that makes stronger conversations at the leadership level and better decisions overall.” The Women as a Catalyst report finds several barriers for women in senior management roles.

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How to make a leader While there is no shortage of WOMEN IN CANADA women with the skills, they are STILL MAKE 72 CENTS too often lost in a leaky pipeline ON THE DOLLAR, to the top, owing to outdated COMPARED TO MEN leadership models, self-limiting mindsets, societal gender biases and a lack of workplace flexibility, among other things. And women need more champions, says Earthy, which is not the same as mentorship. “The championship piece is so critical because it’s really about having people who are in positions of inf luence who have your back and are looking out for opportunities that you might not see for yourself, encouraging and nudging you forward to go for something that you may not otherwise do,” she says. Educating girls and young women is also key, says Meyers. They need to understand what options are possible, in tech in particular. “A lot of that is some reprogramming about what ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ jobs look like,” she says. “That comes back to education in schools.” She is part of the newly formed BC Women in Technology, a new group of men and women whose aim is to promote technology careers among women. “There is definitely a gender gap in education,” she says. Government, industry and individuals all have a role to play, says the Women as a Catalyst report. It recommends B.C. adopt the comply-or-explain approach for publicly traded companies, which requires them to publicly report on diversity targets, as well as incorporate business and diversity content into the school curriculum. Industry can develop diversity policies, talent management systems to support women, and more flexible work environments with improved maternity and paternity benefits. Businesses can also promote diversity with a 30 per cent target for female members of their executive and board of directors, it recommends. Individuals can sponsor promising young female leaders, nominate female colleagues for awards and recognition, and keep the diversity conversation going with friends and colleagues. They can challenge ingrained practices and champion solutions within their own organizations. And they can use the power of their pocketbook, by supporting companies with diverse leadership. There are many companies in B.C. that are doing amazing work, Earthy says. Change takes time, especially in larger organizations, but awareness is increasing, Earthy says. Women are “calling it out.” “If there is an all-male panel, or [you’re] sitting at a boardroom table and there’s a conversation and you realize you’re the only woman, just constructively raise that,” she says. “And there are men who are doing that, too. It’s our responsibility, all of us, to make sure there is diversity and to start to challenge that if there isn’t.” Women and men must set up the next generation to take advantage of the opportunities, says Earthy, who has two daughters. “How can I ensure that they’re not having the same conversations that I’ve been having for 25 years?” É


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THE NOW GENERATION Find out what drives the women behind some of Metro’s Vancouver’s most innovative companies it’s amazing to work with a great team to create global business from nothing and watch it grow and thrive.

As long as you’re moving two steps forward and only one step back, you’re going in the right direction


GREATEST CHALLENGE SO FAR? Q When I joined Global Relay in 2003, the company had only $14,000 in annual revenues, no real market, no funding and growing debts. There were no resources for R&D or to hire additional staff, and many companies were reluctant to trust their data to a third party at a time when the cloud was still years from becoming mainstream. We grew Global Relay little by little, building off of each customer win, gradually gaining a reputation for compliance and technological expertise and winning customers’ trust. Today, we have more than 20,000 customers in 90 countries and have been named a leader in the archiving industry by the most influential technology analysts.


started my career at a Tier 1 law firm. My friend, Warren Roy, had founded a three-person startup named Global Relay, and I started helping him with legal and business matters on the side. I quickly realized that I was much more passionate about helping build a new business based on innovative technology than I was about my existing career, so I took a leap of faith and left my law firm to join Global Relay full time. To leave the security of my law career for Global Relay was a huge risk, and we did struggle and starve for years, but the journey has been incredible and

had some heavy, difficult days, but I don’t really have a worst moment of doubt because I believe in our company and its direction.


can be tough and failures and setbacks are part of the journey. So try to remember that as long as you’re moving two steps forward and only one step back, you’re going in the right direction. IF I WEREN’T HERE, I WOULD BE: Q A full-time activist working to save our salmon, whales and oceans.

a problem is too hard to tackle, or isn’t worth solving because the “market” is too small. Technology has such a fundamental ability to change the way we interact with the world and with each other. This insight motivates me to apply technology to solve some of the most pressing challenges for people who need it now.

If you want something, ask for it. No one is just going to walk up and give it to you


is a spectrum; every individual is unique, from their behaviour to their body’s response to emotion. Designing something that can be universally useful while also being personalized to the individual is hard.


WORST MOMENT OF DOUBT? Q I’ve had two partners leave since the company began, in both cases at times where it was easy to question whether to throw in the towel or to keep going.


my time doing things that matter. As someone with an engineering background, what matters to me is developing the right tools that have the most potential for impact. Autism affects one in 68 children in North America and there is still so much we don’t know about autism spectrum disorder. However, one of the things we do know is that there is not enough being done to support individuals on the spectrum. It is difficult to hear that

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DREAM GOAL? Q To build something that supports even one person to live a happier and healthier life. And then find a way to scale it globally. BEST ADVICE? Q If you want something, ask for it. No one is just going to walk up and give it to you. IF I WEREN’T HERE, I WOULD BE: Q Finding

something else that matters, that has a transformative impact, and building that.

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it’s not always easy to ask for what we really need; these kits answer those questions. WHAT DRIVES YOU? Q Charlie drives me. She is the inspiration behind everything I do. And I love being a little part of the light in a family’s dark days.

Don’t be afraid of failure, or if someone else is doing something a little similar, do it your way; there’s room for everyone

WORST MOMENT OF DOUBT? Q I came up with my business plan during a hospital stay with Charlie last year. Lying on a mattress on the floor next to her bed, monitors beeping, my stomach growling, I started to write my ideas down on about 14 days of no real sleep. When we finally got home and I got some rest and reread my notes, I began to approach local businesses. I thought, “Really, Cherie, can you do this? Is this really a good idea?” But I tuned that out and just went for it, and I’m glad I did.


en-plus years spending on average six weeks a year in BC Children’s Hospital with my seven-year-old daughter, Charlie-Anne, who has spinal muscular atrophy Type 1, a life-limiting genetic illness. Spending so much time in the hospital I now consider myself an expert on what a family needs to survive in these tough times. Healing plants, cold-pressed juices, healthy foods, calming teas, fruit, hygiene products, etc. Loved ones feel helpless in these situations and want to help wherever they can, and

DREAM GOAL? Q Employees! Ha! Ultimately I’d like to really get myself out there because as much as this is a Vancouver-based business, my kits are meant to be purchased from Vancouver and beyond. So many families come from all over and may not have had a chance to bring a lot with them or know the city well or have a vehicle or want to leave their loved one’s side to gather supplies. This is something loved ones can do from afar for their family and friends in need. BEST ADVICE? Q Just

do it. Don’t be afraid of failure, or if someone else is doing something a little similar, do it your way; there’s room for everyone.

turned 30, so I decided my next step should be to enrol in Dubrulle French Culinary School. [By the time I finished,] my 30th birthday was the following year and I had no money for my restaurant, so I talked a couple of friends into going into business with me and we opened a 20-seat café and started catering. I discovered that I loved catering. … The variety and challenges of catering have kept me engaged and excited about my business for the past 30 years.

The variety and challenges of catering have kept me engaged and excited about my business


GREATEST CHALLENGE SO FAR? Q Catering [at the Canada and B.C. pavilions] at the Winter Olympic Games in Turin and the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Going to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and don’t have your industry connections and suppliers is very challenging. They were both amazing experiences but definitely not for the faint of heart.


fell in love with the restaurant business when I was 13 and got my first job busing tables at a pancake house in Calgary. From there I got a job at a café, then Kentucky Fried Chicken, then as a hostess … and eventually as a bar manager. My goal was to have my own restaurant by the time I

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was turning 30 I would have opened a restaurant. Probably something high-end and West Coast-inspired. In hindsight I’m thankful I didn’t have the money because it steered me into catering, which I am passionate about, and I probably would never have had the opportunity to work in Italy or China.

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continuous challenge is finding the best people for the best roles. We hire for a culture fit; we have a dedicated team of experts who work together and challenge each other to be their best. Surrounding myself with the best team ensures the growth and success of the company.

Surround yourself with people who believe in your goals and who are equally passionate about pursuing their dreams

WORST MOMENT OF DOUBT? Q Balancing my role as a wife, mother and business leader. There can be moments of doubt when finding stability and success in all areas of your life, but I use this as a checks-and-balances system to continue improving and living consciously. DREAM GOAL? Q To establish Noel Asmar as an industry

NOEL ASMAR FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR, NOEL ASMAR GROUP OF COMPANIES WHY THIS? WHAT DRIVES YOU? Q I have always been driven to create and explore, and I have experienced first-hand the unbelievable power that a garment can have. Through my first career in hospitality, I saw how transformative it can be to be dressed for success. I thrive on the ability to empower those around me through clothing and thoughtful designs. I am constantly inspired and motivated by the people I meet every day and couldn’t imagine my life any other way.

leader and global brand, emphasizing our female CEO and Canadian roots. There are not many Canadian brands on the global scale, and even fewer still that are created and led by a female director. I look forward to empowering female Canadian entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and continue to build our national brand identity as innovative, creative and powerful. BEST ADVICE? Q Trust

your instincts and be your real and authentic self. Surround yourself with people who believe in your goals and who are equally passionate about pursuing their dreams.

IF I WEREN’T HERE, I WOULD BE: Q Running a boutique hotel

and a signature Mediterranean restaurant. I may still. É

Celebrate on International Women’s Day


March 8, 2017 | 11:30am-2:00pm The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel 900 Canada Place Way

Business in Vancouver is once again recognizing BC’s most outstanding business women in private or public sector companies. Honourees have risen through the ranks to become senior executives or entrepreneurs. Through corporate board placements they help influence and shape policy at some of Canada’s largest companies.

For more information or to register, visit Gold Sponsors:

Silver Sponsor:

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General Sponsors:

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2017 Influential Women in Business honourees


ach year, Business in Vancouver recognizes B.C.’s most out­standing businesswomen in private and publicsector companies. Honourees have risen through the ranks to become leaders in their fields. They help to influence and shape

policy not just in our province, but also at some of Canada’s largest companies and organizations. This year’s winners include six women across a wide range of industries, with varying backgrounds and some very impressive credentials. Here are their stories.

Each will be celebrated at the 2017 Influential Women in Business Awards luncheon on March 8, 2017 Photos by Chung Chow SPONSORS

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2017 Influential Women in Business honourees

Stay true to your passions, surround yourself with the smartest people and don’t doubt yourself


NATALIE DAKERS always knew she would pursue a career in science – her favourite subject in high school and her lifelong passion. She grew up in Ottawa and obtained a bachelor of science degree from the University of Guelph before eventually landing a job with the University of British Columbia’s life sciences technology transfer team, working on commercialization and intellectual property. It was there that Dakers became exposed to possibilities of combining science and business. “I don’t think I would have pursued a business career if it hadn’t somehow been attached to science,” says Dakers. Over the past nearly 20 years, Dakers has been an entrepreneur and CEO at a handful of biopharmaceutical and health sciences companies and organizations before starting Accel-Rx, a health sciences accelerator supporting the growth and development of early-stage health sciences companies, in 2014. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN INFLUENTIAL WOMAN? Q It’s about going down roads that haven’t been travelled before and bringing people along with your vision. If you’re influential, it means people are starting to believe in what you’re doing and think that it’s important. It’s about having impact.

define it for you. With leadership, I think you have to keep growing, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. The moment you think you have it together is when the fry pan hits the face. I think it’s really about surrounding yourself with smart people that you trust and trust you, and great things can happen. As time goes on, it’s also about letting go of the reins and letting other people do what they need to do. WHAT DOES WORK-LIFE BALANCE MEAN TO YOU? Q You have to ask yourself if you’re happy and if the people around you are happy. If that’s true, that’s good enough balance in my mind. For me, it’s a lot about staying healthy. Fitness is a big priority in my world. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN LEADERS? Q Similar to what I’ve tried to do: stay true to your passions, surround yourself with the smartest people and don’t doubt yourself. What you’re doing is important and it’s worthwhile. You have to keep going. Don’t assume it’s a straightforward path. If you achieve a certain level in your career, chances are it’s been a pretty hard road, but if it’s always been pursuing a passion and you love what you do, it’s worth every moment of effort – even if there have been some big sacrifices along the way.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EARLY LESSONS YOU LEARNED IN LIFE AND LEADERSHIP THAT SERVE YOU TODAY? Q You have to take responsibility for your own life. Nobody will

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9:00 M O N D AY


1 min ago

Hey Ben, I’m about to send the market into a nosedive. 1


Change doesn’t always go your way. Nope, it’s a disruptive force. But it does send millions of tiny messages before its arrival: Data. CPAs analyze the data and identify patterns to make informed, insightful decisions that can change the fortunes of your business.

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2017 Influential Women in Business honourees

You have so much to offer the world, so please don’t shortchange yourself or the rest of us


JUDI H ESS was told by her Grade 10 teacher that she was great at math and should major in the subject at the University of Waterloo, because of its co-op program. Hess gladly took that advice, but was less eager to take the required computer science element of the program. As it turned out, writing computer programs and getting machines to work became her new passion – and she learned a valuable lesson along the way. “Sometimes you go to do something you don’t really want to do and don’t understand – and you don’t understand how much fun it can be.” Hess began her career as a software developer at aerospace and defence company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates and spent 14 years there before joining Creo Inc. in 1995. She become president in 2002, a position she held until Creo was acquired by Eastman Kodak. After four years at Kodak, Hess took on the role of CEO at Copperleaf in August 2009, and is credited for its rapid growth ever since.


in taking calculated risks. I have seen time and again, when you have a great team, when you listen to your clients, you need to take that risk. You have to go for it. I have taken risks and they’ve panned out, or I’ve adjusted partway through. Also, indecision is a killer. Nothing is going to be perfect. You need to hire and work with the best people. If you do, you’ll have the most fun and be the most successful. WHAT DOES WORK-LIFE BALANCE MEAN TO YOU? Q There’s a saying: if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. I think the capacity of people to do things is not unlimited, but it’s pretty vast from what I’ve seen. Work-life balance means setting your personal goals and your career or business goals and go for them all. Work-life balance is more about reaching the goals I want to reach.


been in high tech all of my life. It’s a male-dominated environment. I want to bring more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions. I want to be a role model and mentor for other women in this field.

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WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN LEADERS? Q Be confident in yourself and surround yourself with a diverse group of hard-working, talented people. Stay focused on having a career as a top priority, just like a man does. You have so much to offer the world, so please don’t shortchange yourself or the rest of us.

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Congratulations to the 2017 Influential Women in Business honourees. Collectively, this impressive group of women is changing the face of leadership in business. We are proud to sponsor these awards that recognize their outstanding achievements. We believe in supporting local businesses to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. To learn how we can support your business, visit or your local community branch. .

Make Good Money (TM) is a trademark of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union.

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2017 Influential Women in Business honourees

I think we all have influence. For me, it’s simply a matter of how to channel it


K ATHY K INLOCH began her career as a clinical nurse and taught nursing in both Alberta and British Columbia. Over the years, Kinloch served in a variety of senior administrative roles in Fraser Health and with the B.C. Ministry of Health, each with increased responsibilities. Kinloch was the dean of health sciences at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) for three years until early 2010, when she was appointed president of Vancouver Community College. In January 2014, she was appointed to her current role as president of BCIT. Kinloch is a respected leader who brings a depth of business acumen and has helped to build partnerships with various stakeholders across government and industry. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN INFLUENTIAL WOMAN? Q I think we all have influence. For me, it’s simply a matter of how to channel it. In the case of BCIT, it’s a sector where influence can be so impactful, not only from myself as a leader in the system but through the faculty and staff. Every day we have contact with students and our influence is to ensure they have the best educational experience possible so they have success in their career, whatever it is. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EARLY LESSONS YOU LEARNED IN LIFE AND LEADERSHIP THAT SERVE YOU TODAY? Q One of the key

and aligned to them. No matter what situation you’re in as a leader, there’s going to be a tug that tells you something is off and it’s time to reassess and recalibrate the strategy that you’re working with. WHAT DOES WORK-LIFE BALANCE MEAN TO YOU? Q Work-life

balance to me implies an end state, something you can accomplish and reap the benefits from. I see work-life balance as more of a journey. It’s about personal choice. We all have an internal compass and know when we’re getting out of balance. It’s not a steady, open road. It something one has to continually watch and assess our priorities and what we are doing. That might mean learning to say no to activities not aligned with what’s possible at the time. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN LEADERS? Q I love to spend time with young women. It’s a great energizer. I give them advice, and I learn from them as well. I suggest they differentiate themselves in their career. What can they do that gives them a little punch more? Also, create relationships outside of their organization. Network. Know what opportunities are out there and learn about new fields that might be of interest in the future. That is how I came across a number of opportunities in my career to date.

lessons for me has been to stay true to my own values,

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Get there faster with TEC. Our members are bold individuals striving UPBEWBODFUIFJSCVTJOFTTFTBOEBDIJFWFNPSF-FWFSBHFDPOmEFOUJBM group meetings with peers, one-to-one mentoring, business thought leadership and our global network of over 20,000 members. Unleash ZPVSQPUFOUJBMXJUI5&$ BQSPVETQPOTPSPGUIF*OnVFOUJBM Women in Business Awards.



Copyright © 2016 T.E.C. (The Executive Committee) Ltd. All rights reserved.

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2017 Influential Women in Business honourees

Recognize what you’re good at and be proud of it and find ways to leverage that talent in your career and life


LAURA NASHMAN has spent her career in the public sector. She worked at Legal Aid Ontario and then for the Region of Peel in Ontario before joining the BC Pension Corp. as CEO in late 2008. Nashman prides herself on an ability to create a space for everyone in her organization to thrive. “Leadership is vitally important,” Nashman says, “and as I’ve built my personal leadership practice I have taken a fresh and different approach to the role.” WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN INFLUENTIAL WOMAN? Q When you are called out for being influential, in my mind, you better use that influence for good. This acknowledgment ups the ante for me. It reminds me of the humility that I need to bring to my work every day and the reach I have and what I do and what I say matters, makes a difference and has an influence on the people around me. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EARLY LESSONS YOU LEARNED IN LIFE AND LEADERSHIP THAT SERVE YOU TODAY? Q Authenticity

matters. Being genuine matters. You need to find the place and space where you can be that genuine person. You need to enjoy, like and feel purposeful in what you

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do. With that comes more confidence and more energy. For me, it was learning to recognize what I’m good at and what gives me energy and excites me to do even more in that space, whatever that might be. WHAT DOES WORK-LIFE BALANCE MEAN TO YOU? Q For me, there’s a work-life integration: I work when I play, I play when I work. Technology has made it easier for us to integrate work and life. It’s easier to do and say that when you really love what you do. The trick, for me, is being present in the moment and that you give everything you can to that particular moment. If you can figure out how to do the mental gymnastics, to be present for that person, then I think you can more seamlessly integrate your work and your life. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN LEADERS? Q Recognize what you’re good at and be proud of it and find ways to leverage that talent in your career and life. They aren’t easy things necessarily, but they energize you and enable you to perform well. For example, running a marathon isn’t easy, but for some people that tiring thing creates energy.

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Excellence is achieved in the details. Congratulations to all the 2017 Influential Women in Business Award recipients. Fasken Martineau is Vancouver’s largest law firm. We see legal issues in the context of our clients’ broader business issues. Our greatest satisfaction arises from our clients entrusting us with their most critical and pressing matters.

















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2017 Influential Women in Business honourees

The success and influence I’ve had is really the result of having courage and staying true to my values and what I really believe in


M ARCIA NOZICK came to Vancouver in the late 1990s to do her PhD at Simon Fraser University, after completing a master’s in urban planning at the University of Manitoba and publishing the book No Place Like Home: Building Sustainable Communities. She immersed herself in community issues in the Downtown Eastside, which led to her founding the Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS) to help people with barriers to employment become productive and economically self-sufficient. In 2008, Nozick broke new ground by launching EMBERS Staffing Solutions, an award-winning temporary staffing agency and social enterprise that has had a tremendous social impact. Nozick is still a hands-on CEO who often comes in at 5:30 a.m. to help drive workers to job sites. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN INFLUENTIAL WOMAN? Q I never set out to be an influential woman, but I know that my work over the years – the book I wrote and the work I’ve done in community economic development and our business – has influenced the sector of community economic development and the world of business. People now see and understand that business can be both successful and be used as a platform for doing social good. I feel really good about that influence. I think the success and influence I’ve had is really the result of having courage and staying true to my values and what I really believe in.

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It’s really important to see things through. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s important to recognize that you don’t know everything. Tap into experts and surround yourself with people who can do the things you’re not so good at doing. As a leader, it’s also important to be authentic and to listen to other people – be open to others and new ways of doing things. WHAT DOES WORK-LIFE BALANCE MEAN TO YOU? Q I’m probably way overbalanced on the work side, but work is also my passion and my joy, which makes a big difference. I’m also at a stage in my life where my kids are grown and I really have the time and the luxury to be able to devote myself to the work that I love. It rejuvenates me. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN LEADERS? Q Lead by example. When you really strive for excellence in everything that you do, you tend to elevate those around you to that level. Also, find your “why.” Find your passion and go after it. If you can connect your work to what you feel passionate about, you can’t ever go wrong. Things find a way of falling into place. In the end, you’ll be both successful and have a meaningful life. I don’t think it can get better than that.

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It’s really important that women aspire to leadership roles. … We also have to help each other


M A RT H A P IPER grew up in a white-collar family in a blue-collar town in Ohio. Higher education was inevitable, but wasn’t necessarily the career goal, at least not at first. Piper got a PhD in epidemiology and biostatistics at McGill University and then became director of its School of Physical and Occupational Therapy until 1985 when she became dean of the University of Alberta’s faculty of rehabilitation medicine, among other roles. Piper was appointed president of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1997, and held that position until 2006. She also served as interim president from September 2015 to June 2016. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN INFLUENTIAL WOMAN? Q This

honour is more a reflection of UBC than me. If UBC wasn’t the institution it is today, I wouldn’t be getting this award – I’m absolutely convinced of that. A lifetime achievement award is a very powerful message. It’s never one thing you did. It’s a combination of continuous contributions. That is very meaningful. That’s all any of us can ask for – is that we make a difference, or try to make a difference in whatever we do. WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR MENTORS? Q I have found female mentors in people I have never met. They are women I have admired through reading about them, learning about them and thinking about them. One is Eleanor

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Roosevelt. She was an amazing woman. She was brilliant and very strategic. Another is Georgia O’Keeffe. She painted what she wanted to paint. WHAT DOES WORK-LIFE BALANCE MEAN TO YOU? Q When I was president, every day I found myself making decisions about what to do and what I couldn’t do. For me, everything came down to family and work. That was it. There wasn’t really much else. It meant no hobbies or tea with friends and little entertaining outside of work. You have to be intentional. It just doesn’t happen. I spent a lot of my disposable income on help. My mother would cringe if she knew what I spent on help. But I know I feel better when my house is cleaned, I have ironed clothes and when the kids were well looked after. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN LEADERS? Q I think young women often think feminism is for the birds and they can do whatever they want. That’s true, but it’s not totally true. There are still battles that have to be fought. I think it’s really important that women aspire to leadership roles. However, they shouldn’t do it naively. We have to recognize there are still barriers. There is still discrimination out there. We also have to help each other. If there are ways for us to make it easier for those who follow us, we should do it. É

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Influential Women in Business past honourees COMPANIES AT TIME OF AWARD

2 2016

Karina Briño, Mining Association of BC


Amara Holdings

Evi Mustel, Mustel Group

Michelle Pockey, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Karimah Es Sabar, Centre for Drug Research and Development

Marcia Smith, Teck Resources Ltd.

Congratulations Kathy Kinloch The British Columbia Institute of Technology is proud to congratulate President Kathy Kinloch on being named one of this year’s Influential Women in Business by Business in Vancouver. BCIT School of Business’s model of industry leading applied learning is creating generations of strong female leaders whom we look forward to congratulating in the years to come.

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2 2015

Carolyn Cross, Ondine Biomedical

Debra Hewson, Odlum Brown Ltd.

Fiona Macfarlane, EY


Renee Wasylyk, Troika Developments

Susan Yurkovich, BC Hydro

HSBC Canada

Sponsor’s Message

Celebrating Achievement


On behalf of everyone at Fasken Martineau, I would like to congratulate the 2017 BIV Influential Women in Business award winners. Their persistence and determination is admired by us all and serves to inspire the next generation of business leaders, both women and men.

CBC Vancouver is honoured to be the exclusive media partner for BIV’s 2017 Influential Women in Business Awards. On behalf of all of us at CBC Vancouver, I’d like to congratulate this year’s award recipients.

As Vancouver’s largest law firm and a leader in business law and dispute resolution, we have the honour of working alongside many of our province’s business leaders. This allows us to observe first hand, and appreciate, the significant value added to our community by the skills and dedication of Influential Women in Business award recipients, both past and present. Accordingly, Fasken Martineau is delighted to support events and initiatives that promote and celebrate the success of women in business. Once again, I am pleased to congratulate this year’s winners and commend the achievements of all women who are leading the way in the business community.

This year’s winners are vibrant role models to everyone around them. They are some of the most exceptional leaders in the province and represent a wide variety of industries. These women lead by example with vision, determination and innovation. As journalism evolves, we at CBC Vancouver, understand first-hand the commitment needed to stay nimble in today's rapidly changing business landscape. We applaud these leaders on their outstanding work. Congratulations! Thank you for your invaluable contributions to our local communities. Sincerely,

William Westeringh, Q.C. Managing Partner

Johnny Michel Senior Managing Director CBC English Services British Columbia & Alberta

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Influential Women in Business past honourees COMPANIES AT TIME OF AWARD

2014 2



Barbara Brink Ba

Wendy Grant-John, Deloitte Elizabeth Harrison, Farris Jill Leversage Lois Nahirney Launi Skinner, First West Credit Union Kari Yuers, Kryton International Inc.

Janet Austin, Vancouver YWCA Ida Goodreau Julia Levy


Applied Strategies Ltd. A Barbara Dunfield, Ba Sennen Potash Corp. S Jo Joyce Groote, Crossing Sectors Inc. Dana Hayden, PavCo Barbara Kaminsky, Canadian Cancer Society Laurie Schultz, ACL

2013 Sage Baker, Q5 Innovations Inc. Judy Brooks May Brown

(LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT), Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board Blaize Reich, Beedie School of Business Shannon Rogers, Global Relay Jill Schnarr, Telus

2011 Bev Briscoe

(LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT), Briscoe Management Amiee Chan, Norsat International Christine Day, Lululemon Evaleen Jaager Roy, Jaager Roy Advisory Inc. Tina Osen, HUB International Insurance Tracy Redies, Coast Capital Savings

Sponsor’s Message

Pledge For Parity TEC Canada is once again thrilled to sponsor BIV’s 2017 Influential Women in Business Awards. We are proud to support and honour these groundbreaking leaders. TEC Canada supports the aim behind this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BeBoldForChange. Members across our community support and continue to strive for gender parity, understanding that everyone can Ken MacLeod play a part in creating a more genderPresident and CEO inclusive world. Our winners for 2017 TEC Canada are enterprising, energetic leaders who ignite a passion in those around them and drive the businesses that impact our national economic success. Their boldness is matched by their creativity, determination and commitment to those they lead. As a leadership development organization, TEC’s vision is to support today’s leaders by providing the knowledge, skills and mentorship that motivate them to achieve their ambitions. That’s why we also encourage fairness, gender balance and equal opportunity throughout our community. We know that our purposeful actions to accelerate women’s progress as leaders, both personally and professionally, not only advance the equality of women, but also serve to advance our own national productivity and prosperity.

Carole Taylor

(LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT), former B.C. finance minister Tamara Vrooman, Vancity


Sarah Morgan-Silvester, University of British Columbia Cybele Negris, Janine North , Nothern Development Initiative Trust

2009 Julia Kim, Phillips, Hager & North Investment Management Tracey McVicar, CAI Capital Management Colleen Nystedt (Hardwick), MovieSet Inc. Jane Peverett, BC Transmission Corp.

2008 Wanda Costuros, BC Hydro Laura Hansen, Image Group Lisa Pankratz, Mackenzie Cundill Investment Management Patrice Pratt, Vancity Barbara Rae (LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT), Dekora Catherine Roome, BC Safety Authority

2007 Susan Adams, Bevendale Enterprises Inc. Shushma Datt, i.t. productions Grace McCarthy (LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT)








Designing custom awards and gifts since 1998 /JANETMHELM

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Na Nadine or NJ (Dee) Miller, FAST First Aid & Survival F Technologies and T JJM JJ Construction Ltd. Elise Rees, Ernst & Young El Elizabeth Watson, El Governance G Advisory Services

2006 Kazuko Komatsu, Pacific Western Brewing Co. Roslyn Kunin, Roslyn Kunin and Associates Alice Laberge Wendy B. McDonald (LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT), BC Bearing Group Judy Rogers, City of Vancouver Anne Stewart, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP Lis Welch, The Welch Group

2005 Karen Flavelle, Purdy’s Chocolates Pat Jacobsen, TransLink Eva Lee Kwok, Amara International Investment Debra Lykkemark, Culinary Capers Doreen McKenzieSaunders (LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT), Women in the Lead Inc. Sandra Stevenson, Sport BC

2004 Barbara Maple, Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre Nancy McKinstry, Odlum Brown Ltd. Catherine Osler, Titian Communications Inc. Sue Paish, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Faye Wightman, University of Victoria

2003 Jill Bodkin, Golden Heron Enterprises Anne Lippert, Lippert Investments Martha Piper, University of British Columbia Anne Sutherland, RBC Royal Bank Naomi Yamamoto, Lasercolour

2002 Judy Bishop, Bishop & Co. Shannon Byrne, Paradata Systems Frances McGuckin, Carole Taylor, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Linda Thorstad, Thorstad/ Vancouver Economic Development Commission

2001 Mobina Jaffer, Dohm Jaffer & Cashman Lucille Johnstone, St. John Ambulance Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, Absolute Spa Group Susan Mendelson, The Lazy Gourmet Linda (Lynn Warren, Vancouver Breast Centre

2000 Maureen Chant, Jim Pattison Group Nancy Greene, Sun Peaks Resort Corp. Dr. Julia Levy, Quadra Logic Technologies Gerri Sinclair, X-cite Nancy Stibbard, Capilano Suspension Bridge

Sponsor’s Message

Innovative Strategic Leadership Today’s changing business climate demands leaders with a powerful capacity for strategic and innovative thinking. The six women recognized as part of Business in Vancouver’s Influential Women in Business Awards exemplify these qualities, driving the success of their organizations. These same qualities are upheld by the nearly 35,000 professionally designated accountants represented by the Chartered Professional Richard Rees, FCPA, FCA Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC). CPAs employ strategic thinking and new President & CEO, CPABC technologies to navigate their organizations through disruptive change. At CPABC, we are training tomorrow’s business leaders to anticipate the unexpected, make sense of complexity, and analyze data to make business decisions that drive success. Key to adapting to change is the furthering of gender equality in the workplace. CPA promotes female leadership through CPA Canada’s Women’s Leadership Council. This Council is a catalyst for change and advocates for pay equity and boardroom diversity. It focuses on promoting and creating a work environment within the accounting profession that retains, promotes, and advances women to positions of leadership. CPABC is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s Influential Women in Business Awards. The honourees all demonstrate outstanding leadership and serve as inspiration for business leaders, both present and future. We wish them all continued success.

Congratulations to the 2017 Influential Women in Business honourees. Collectively, this impressive group of women is changing the face of leadership in business. They’re remarkable examples of the progress we’re making in this province. Their contributions demonstrate the value that women have in strengthening local businesses, communities and the economy. We’re proud to sponsor these awards that recognize their outstanding achievements.

Make Good Money (TM) is a trademark of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union.

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Leaders in Transition program helps female leaders navigate through retirement


(LEFT TO RIGHT) Barbara Ross-

Denroche, Anne Stewart and Marie Stenzel were participants in the first Leaders in Transition program | MINERVA FOUNDATION


hen Anne Stewart, a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, started thinking about retirement after a four-decades-long career in corporate law, her biggest concern was how to channel the energy and passion that had driven her to the top of her field. “I loved what I did and I can tell you honestly that I can’t remember ever having a dull day. … Every day my career challenged me intellectually,” says Stewart, who retired at the end of 2016. “Many of my clients are those who have been with me since 1975 and they have become my good friends. The thought of retiring not only worried me, it scared me.” With no children or family close by, the idea of not having somewhere to go every day was frightening to say the least. It was important for Stewart to fill her days with something meaningful. “I was so focused on my job and, like many of my friends in senior roles, we delayed thinking about change,” adds the 65-year-old. “I knew that when that day [retirement] came, I wanted to continue to be useful to society.” Stewart knew she wasn’t the only professional woman struggling with questions such as: “How am I going to fill my days? How can I still make a difference in the world? What else is there out there for me?” After speaking to several colleagues, Stewart saw a

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need for a forum where like-minded women could get together to discuss this “third chapter” in life. As a longtime supporter of the Minerva Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering leadership in girls and women throughout the province, Stewart approached the foundation about creating a program to help women navigate retirement – one that included peer support and concentrated on offering inspiration and hope. “Many of my friends also worried about health and financial issues, where were they going to live as they age, who will they be at 80, and so on,” adds Stewart. Countless women grapple to find a meaningful role in the later years of life, says Jen Murtagh, CEO of the Minerva Foundation. “This period of transition can be really difficult for incredibly educated, high-profile women. Many may feel fear, anxiety, grief and even depression,” she explains. “They feel a void, a vacuum of sorts. Through our program, they discover that they can still stay relevant and connected while enjoying their third act.” Leaders in Transition was launched in 2014 as a pilot program for women aged 55 to 65. The first two cohorts were so successful that the Minerva Foundation launched a third one in January 2017. “This is a six-month comprehensive program and the group meets one day each month for about six hours,” she adds. “We have facilitators focused on different topics each month. … It can include discussions about finances, health, fitness, leisure and relationships. This is a very interactive program that encourages women to share their thoughts with the other women in the cohort.” Joanne Gassman, who took part in the first cohort, says the program helped her envision her future. As a senior vice-president at the Bank of Montreal – a job she was passionate about – she too postponed thinking about the “R” word. “However, around 55 I began growing tired of travelling to Toronto twice each month on business,” says the 59-year-old, who retired in 2015 to Bowen Island with her partner of 30 years. When a friend told her about Leaders in Transition, Gassman was intrigued.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet some amazing women who were also facing their next chapter in life,” she explains. “The program was very helpful. I realized that I was grieving a loss, a loss of a career that defined me, and that I had to move through the grief. It was at times very emotional, yet it was an empowering and bonding experience.” Gassman says Leaders in Transition also forced her to take the time to think about herself. “It’s not about giving you the answers; rather, it’s about you taking the time to reflect on what your retirement will look like,” says Gassman, who has since become involved in several non-profit organizations that help the homeless and others that empower young girls. “The course was great. It really helped make the next chapter of my life more fulfilling.” Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the program, say all three, are the many new friendships forged. “It’s been great. Women tell us that they have stayed connected and many organize reunion events on a regular basis,” says Murtagh. É


McKay and Anne Stewart at an alumni event in 2015 | MINERVA FOUNDATION

A leadership course, by women. For women. Because emotional intelligence skills are leadership skills.

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FOR ABORIGINAL WOMEN Economic inequality and high rates of violence have been barriers for aboriginal women in business. First Nations leaders say it will take years to create the conditions where women can step into leadership roles, but change is happening



or the past two years, the Minerva Foundation has published a report that tallies the number of women in senior leadership roles at some of British Columbia’s largest corporations. In 2015, there were no aboriginal women on the list. This year, the research foundation surveyed 50 companies. Again, there were no women of aboriginal descent on senior management teams or boards.

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Chastity Davis, a consultant and chair of B.C.’s Minister’s Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women, says those zeroes have a direct correlation to the tragedy that unfolded across Canada as First Nations women went missing or were murdered. “We are invisible in the corporate world and our women are invisible as well, going missing and murdered without a trace and no people being held to account for that,” Davis says. “Our lives are of less value in this country than mainstream women, and that’s why this has been allowed to happen.” Davis isn’t the first aboriginal leader to note the link between economic inequality and high rates of violence against First Nations women. According to the RCMP, aboriginal women encounter violence at a rate that is nearly three times higher than that for non-aboriginal women. In a landmark 2014 report, it estimated that nearly 1,200 aboriginal women have gone missing or were murdered between 1980 and 2012. Many say poverty lies at the heart of the crisis and until progress is made to address the economic imbalance, the violence will continue. “Where do you see indigenous women in your life, right?” asks Davis. “Not many places, not next door to you, not in the office next to you, not in power.” Instead, the stereotypical view of a First Nation woman is negative, Davis says: as an addict in downtown Vancouver or on a missing-person poster. It’s in this economic context that the numbers of missing aboriginal women rose over the years, she adds. Last August, the Trudeau government vowed to address that tragedy when it announced the establishment of a formal inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women. The $54 million inquiry, which is expected to make recommendations on how to remove systemic violence against aboriginal women, will report its findings in 2018. Its mandate is broad, and experts know that a complex web of social and historical conditions has led to the violence, including racism, poverty, the overrepresentation of aboriginal children in the child-welfare system, poor housing and transportation, addiction, colonialism, and the effects of the so-called Sixties Scoop, which refers to the mass removal of aboriginal children from their families into the child-welfare system in the 1960s. “It’s a domino effect,” says Karen Ogen, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance, which supports a liquefied natural gas industry in British Columbia. “The Sixties Scoop, lack of education, lack of housing. All of these negative effects: alcohol, lack of cultural identity. Those sort of play with what happens in our community and the lives of our women. What can we do to overcome some of these issues? Where do we start?” Many say the starting point is meaningful employment. The 2014 RCMP report, also noted that aboriginal homicide victims were less likely to be employed than non-aboriginal victims. Ogen, who was previously a social worker and First Nations chief, says good jobs are key to ensuring the

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Karen Ogen, former chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, presenting at a conference hosted by the Fraser Institute. On her right, Ravina Bains, associate director, Centre for Aboriginal Policy Studies, Fraser Institute | BRANDON THOMPSON Chastity Davis says aboriginal women are “invisible in the corporate world” and need more access to opportunities to change that status | JUSTIN SCHNEIDER

safety of aboriginal women. In B.C., high-paying jobs are primarily in the resource sector, she says, adding she wants First Nations people – especially women – to go after them. It’s a delicate argument for a First Nations leader to make in B.C., where many aboriginal communities have opposed large resource projects near or on their traditional territories. Two years ago, Ogen, former chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, signed a $2.8 million agreement with the province to support the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would supply a proposed LNG export facility in Kitimat. The move drew criticism from First Nations and environmental groups across the province. But she maintains that these projects provide a path out of poverty for her people. She notes that women have flocked to training programs – some subsidized by industry – to become welders, electricians, millwrights and heavy equipment operators.

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Breaking economic barriers for aboriginal women

Kristy Luggi says young women often contact her for career advice. “I do feel very proud of myself” | KATIE HABSBURG

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“We have long-term possibilities here for our people, long-term stability, post-secondary degrees, certificates,” Ogen says. The alternative is despair, which feeds violence, she adds. “Lots of taxpayers see First Nations as living off taxpayers, money, and how do we change that image? “It’s about business. It’s about economic development. It’s about changing the face and the landscape of how First Nations view themselves, and how do we get ahead?” In Prince George, more than 200 women have completed programs to prepare them for trades training, says Karin Hunt, executive director of the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association. Kristy Luggi, 28, a millwright apprentice in northern B.C., is one young woman who pursued a trades career. Luggi is halfway through a four-year training program, and, in November, she spent weeks at the Red Chris copper mine in northwestern B.C. Most of the time, she’s the only woman on crews. She loves the work. “I like problem solving,” she says, “figuring out what’s wrong with something and the physically demanding part.” The tough part is leaving her eight-year-old son for weeks on end. “It’s hard at first,” she says. “But I go through it because it will be better for him in the future, and he understands.” Young women often contact her for career advice. “I do feel very proud of myself. I am – how would you say it? – a role model for younger people.” Other First Nation leaders say better access to post-secondary education is also crucial. Shelly Johnson, a social work professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC), says the lives of First Nations’ women won’t change until every young person has a real shot at getting a post-secondary education. Johnson, a member of the Keeseekoose First Nation,

says there’s a myth that all First Nations in Canada get free post-secondary education. The federal government does provide education grants for status Indians, but those funds are given to individual band councils to disburse as they wish. On the Musqueam reserve near the University of British Columbia, for example, Johnson notes that there are 300 people on the waiting list for education grants. The band hands out grants to about two to four students per year. At that rate, it will take about 60 years to clear the list, she says. Johnson says universities can address that inequity by waiving tuition for qualified First Nation applicants. She wrote to UBC president Santa Ono asking him to consider this, but has not had a response. The former president, Arvind Gupta, ignored her request, she says. She says First Nations women are hungry for education. Statistics show that a higher percentage of First Nations women attend and graduate post-secondary institutions than their male counterparts. According to 2011 Statistics Canada data, 55 per cent of aboriginal women had post-secondary education credentials compared to 48 per cent of men. And 13 per cent obtained university degrees compared to 7.6 per cent of men. Johnson says a post-secondary education not only is a path out of poverty for an individual woman, but can also change the lives of her children. Five of Johnson’s six children have university degrees, she says. But First Nations women face barriers that non-aboriginal women rarely encounter. As a girl growing up in Quesnel, B.C., Johnson was one of a handful of aboriginal students at her school,she says. She had no role models until an Aboriginal exchange teacher from Australia took her aside and told her she was a strong student. “He said: ‘Your future well-being will depend on how well you can do in this system.’” Without that encouragement, Johnson says she wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply to university. That Australian teacher was the only indigenous teacher she had until she reached graduate school. “I was 10 years old, 45 years ago. When he said I can be successful, that changed everything.” Many First Nations activists want the inquiry to make recommendations that focus on providing not just tuition for post-secondary training, but also support – such as child care and counselling – to ensure women complete their education. The Minerva Foundation, which published the annual leadership scorecard, also provides leadership training for aboriginal women. First Nations leaders say it will take years to create the conditions where women in their communities can step into leadership roles in business. But change is happening. Aboriginal women have arrived in academia, politics, government and, increasingly, the trades sector. “The possibilities are endless for our people,” Ogen says. “It’s happening. It’s not happening overnight, but it’s happening. “As far as I’m concerned, women are the backbone of our society. Everything rests on it.” É

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WANTED: MORE WOMEN IN RESOURCES Barinder Rasode | One of the industry’s most underutilized assets is women. Time for a real change

W Women must stand their ground and not relinquish the hard-won advances we have achieved in gaining equality and access to opportunities

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e are at a pivotal moment in Canada’s history. Our government leaders are making historic decisions about whether or not various energy projects are given the green light to proceed. And, as they make these crucial decisions, it seems the nation is being divided into two groups: those who support our resource industry, and those who want to protect the environment and address the global issue of climate change. But, in reality, it isn’t an either-or situation. I believe the silent majority of Canadians think the future of our nation depends on us having it both ways.

We need to develop our natural resources in a safe and sustainable way, so we can create employment and pay for the government services we all rely on. Canada’s resource industry adheres to the world’s strictest environmental laws and regulations, and companies are spending billions of dollars on new technology to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce their impact on the environment. Our industries supply Canada’s energy demands and they export these resources to countries that are switching away from dirtier forms of energy produced in countries that have no environmental, safety or employment regulations. So, as our country transitions away from fossil fuels, Canada’s energy industry is using the wealth they generate today, to invest in the clean technologies of the future. The issue of climate change and resource development shou ld n’t pol a r i ze o u r c o u nt r y. A s w e look ahead, one thing is certain: Ca nada needs to c o m e to ge t h e r around a national

climate strategy that unites people and drives growth in a new energy economy. So, while some will say that we can either lower greenhouse gas emissions or develop our resources, I believe that industries such as the oil and gas sector are actually the key to addressing climate change. The fact remains that Canadian natural resources have a tremendous impact on our daily lives. According to Statistics Canada, the value of Canada’s natural resource output in 2015 was $225.5 billion, which equals $617.8 million per day. Those are family-supporting jobs, producing a product that we depend on, and generating revenue our country desperately needs. While it is common to hear that occupations in science and technology are outstripping those in the resource sector, jobs data from BC Stats shows it is actually the other way around. No occupational category in B.C. grew as quickly as mining and oil and gas extraction did during the past 10 years. That said, our country’s most important commodity has never been its natural resources. Canada’s most important asset is its people. And, in the past, one of its most underutilized assets were women. The resource industry has historically been dominated by men, but we’re making progress. Not only are attitudes and policies changing, but the skills needed in the resource industry have changed. This has opened the door to more opportunities for women – jobs in science, computer engineering, environmental technology, health and safety, as well as leadership roles in community engagement and relationship building, which have become critical factors in getting new projects off the ground.

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I believe that support and networking for women in the industry and garnering publicity around successful role models are also influencing the gender imbalance. Networking and collaboration help bring down the barriers and, in turn, help advance women in the workplace. It’s also a chance to recognize the trailblazers and provide encouragement and mentorship to others in the industry. T h a t ’s w h y I h e l p e d f o u n d SheTalks, an organization that brings inspirational women together for a day of storytelling and empowerment. The open platform allows women to harness the power of our collective, create connections and support the success of others. I’m particularly proud of SheTalks Resources, which features women working in B.C.’s resource sector. We showcase the women who are leading the way in ensuring resource development is taking place in environmentally, socially and

economically responsible ways. These pioneers stepped out of their comfort zone and are shaping the future of the industry. That’s because diversity makes a company better. Diversity allows you to gain different perspectives and problem-solving abilities. Employing more women creates more success, inspires better solutions and brings better financial returns. Simply put: satisfied, supported women put more into their workplaces and get more out of their careers. We need to continue leveraging these advantages to create more powerful workplaces. This goal is more important than ever as we head into a new political era in the United States. Women must stand their ground and not relinquish the hard-won advances we have achieved in gaining equality and access to opportunities. And, while it’s not yet clear what a Trump presidency will mean for global women’s rights, his election win has made us realize that


the advancements women have made might be more fragile than we thought. Recent events are a rem i nder t h at leaders who do not respect women as equal decision-makers may very well roll back the important progress that we have made. But we can rise above the rhetoric and continue to champion women’s rights and our role in today’s global workforce. There continues to be a growing demand for the skills and perspectives women bring to the workplace, and, despite recent events, I believe that we will continue to be an important force in spurring economic prosperity here in Canada and abroad.É

I believe that support and networking for women in the industry and garnering publicity around successful role models are also influencing the gender imbalance

Barinder Rasode is director of social responsibility at Resource Works and chairwoman and cofounder of SheTalks.



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Thanks to programs like Ladies Learning Code, more women are pursuing tech and helping to change the face of the industry in future



Women at a Ladies Learning Code camp last year. The organization organizes coding boot camps for women and girls across Canada | JON LIM


he world’s first computer programmer was a woman. Ada Lovelace’s work on the never-realized Analytical Engine more than 170 years ago laid the groundwork for the technological revolution to come. More than a century later, when the computer made the leap from fictional to bona fide, programming was still primarily the domain of women. “Computer science, historically, if you go back decades, actually has reasonable participation of women, up to 30 per cent. In fact, if you go back to the creation of the computer, most programmers were women because it was somehow viewed as being like secretarial work,” says Lesley Shannon, an associate professor in the School of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the National Sciences and Engineering Council chair for women in science and engineering for B.C. and Yukon. Then computers became less obscure, potentially even lucrative. Things changed. “Then it shifted in perception and men came into the field, and now men dominate the field,” says Shannon. In fact, even as women make some incremental gains in science, engineering and math, their numbers have actually decreased in recent years in technology. Only nine per cent of the members of the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia are women. In undergraduate computer science programs, just 14 to 18 per cent of students are female. In computer

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engineering, it’s worse, at only about one in 10. “The numbers are bad,” Shannon says. “I would say there’s a historical aspect here where this was a man’s job – he built the machines.” It’s been a dogged stereotype to ditch, despite efforts. Five years ago, a simple tweet about teaching women to code brought Heather Payne, Melissa Sariffodeen, Laura Plant and Breanna Hughes together, and Ladies Learning Code was born. The first workshop sold out in a day. Since then, the non-profit organization has expanded to 29 cities across the country, including Vancouver and Victoria. More than 25,000 women and girls have attended workshops. “Overwhelming,” says Sariffodeen. “Our second workshop sold out in 30 seconds.” Sariffodeen taught herself to code when she was 11 or 12. She spent her summers making websites and games. “I took computer science in high school and did well but was never encouraged to pursue it further, despite doing well,” she says. “We see it a lot in our programs with girls and teens – there’s a turning point where it’s no longer cool to be smart or good at science or math, and there’s drop-off then.” Add to that a gender bias in technology toward boys and the lack of female role models and you have a gender gap, she says. But things have changed since her early days in the industry, thanks to government and private-sector commitment to close the gap. “I see it every day in our programs – more and more attendance, women changing careers and pursuing technology after having a positive interaction and exposure in our program,” she says. At SFU, some very simple changes have had a huge impact, Shannon says. In the computer engineering department the percentage of female students jumped to 19 per cent from nine per cent in two years. And that’s largely from changing the technology discussion. “How you talk about these things has huge impacts in terms of the perception,” she says. For a long time it was men who spoke about computer engineering, and their focus tended to be on building hardware. “My spin is more about helping people solve their problems, as opposed to ‘It’s just about the technology,’” she says. “Women tend to be more motivated by the ‘why,’ so anything we can do to help boost that aspect is good. “The technology unto itself is not motivational.” SFU is also taking an early aim at the next generation of students, with programs for middle-grade and high school girls such as Go Code Girl and Girls Get IT. “Kids around 10 or 11 start deciding what they’re not going to do, so we want to get in and make sure they’re not saying no to computing because of some stereotypes,” Shannon says. The Technovation program challenges students to design a social app that will help their community in some way. In just its second year, the program has produced some impressive results. “You would be in awe of what these middle-school kids can come up with,” she says.

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Women tend to be more motivated by the ‘why,’ so anything we can do to help boost that aspect is good One group created a community app for their school that shows new students where local parks, the library and the community centre are. Another created a hiking app that determines if a hiker has enough time to complete the route before sundown. It also tracks hikers and provides an alert when they should turn around, so they aren’t stuck in the dark. A high school group designed an app for Syrian refugees, to help familiarize them with currency, language, signs and other aspects of Canadian life. “It’s not just about the code. It’s that holistic picture that girls find attractive, and it starts to take away this perception that all you do is type at a computer,” Shannon says. “It opens them up to being creative.” Getting girls and women into technology is a boon not just to them but to tech, too, Shannon says. “The more diverse a group is, the more innovative it is,” she says. É

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SHE TECH Shirley Vickers | Why the B.C. tech industry is poised to break the glass ceiling

B We need the people who are shaping the world we live in, those who are building the companies of tomorrow, to accurately reflect the people and communities they are building them for

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etween health care, oil and gas drilling and technology, I’ve worked in many distinct industries. But you might say that my first real exposure to business was growing up on my family farm in Alberta. You could also say that my diverse history has set me up well for my current job as president and CEO of the BC Innovation Council, where I lead a team that connects B.C.-grown innovation to industry needs across the province and globally. In this role, I get to help entrepreneurs scale their businesses and help industry titans stay competitive, both challenging yet rewarding endeavours. Building a business or managing one isn’t easy no matter who you are or where you come from. When you’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done before or trying to change the status quo, you will experience resistance. And while the challenges I’ve faced in my business career have differed depending on the industry I’ve been working in, unfortunately, something that has been consistent was the fact that I was treated differently simply because I am a woman. There have been many times when I’ve been the only woman in a room, and it’s seemed as though my viewpoint wasn’t taken seriously. There have been times when I’ve felt dismissed. For a woman in these situations, sometimes you feel unheard. Sometimes it seems as if you’re almost invisible. There’s an undeniable, even if unconscious, bias at work. B e i n g a w o m a n h a s a c t u a lly changed my career trajectory. I once decided strategically to not take a position as a CEO because the company could not have achieved what it needed to with a woman in charge. The company needed to raise money from investors, and I knew that because I’m a woman, it would have been very challenging in that industry. T he data suggests that my experience isn’t unique. Women in business everywhere have to deal

with challenges surrounding many issues including gender equality in pay, overcoming prejudices and attracting investment. Many of these problems stem from the fact that the number of women in senior corporate roles is disproportionately low, and this impacts us all. Why does this matter so much? For me, it’s simple: I believe that to build a future that benefits everyone equally, we need decision-makers and power brokers that fully appreciate the unique perspectives of the women who make up over half of our population. Despite the current reality, I have great confidence in the future. I believe not only that the challenges facing women in business are on the cusp of being overcome, but also that the tech industry is best positioned today to lead this change in British Columbia and beyond. Here’s why. Firstly, the tech industry in B.C. is thriving. I would even argue that the tech economy is now the whole economy. It’s more than Internet and apps, and it provides opportunities in sectors as diverse as life sciences, biotech, marketing and mining. This industry pays well over the provincial average, helping to minimize the wage inequality. Women who choose to focus on tech will do incredible things. Whether it’s building an app or working to cure cancer, our tech industry presents the greatest opportunity for women entering the corporate world to succeed today. Secondly, the growing number of women entering tech is starting a positive cycle. Research has already demonstrated that gender diversity in business leads to a better bottom line. So as more and more women join B.C.’s innovation economy, either directly at a tech firm or at a traditional industry player that’s leveraging tech, the benefits, financial and otherwise, of having female voices heard will increasingly become evident — and not a moment too soon. Lastly, some of the most powerful female leaders in B.C. are in tech. If

you’re searching for the most powerful people in business in B.C., focus in on tech, and you won’t have to look far. Whether it’s Judi Hess, CEO at Copperleaf Technologies, Amiee Chan of Norsat International Inc., or Gerri Sinclair, a founder of B.C.’s first-of-its-kind Centre for Digital Media, there is no shortage of female leaders in tech providing an ambitious blueprint for their peers and the next generation. This final point is especially important. Author Marian Wright Edelman wrote, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” That quote illustrates why I feel strongly about the constant need to highlight more women not only in tech, but in business in general. We must showcase what is possible. We must highlight all of the amazing things women are doing right now. That’s how we are going to change things in British Columbia: through projects and initiatives that celebrate and inspire women, like We for She, the Vinetta Project and She Built That; through highlighting exemplary female role models; and through showcasing the innovation that’s possible when diverse ideas and perspectives come together, just as we do at the BC Innovation Council. That’s how we can lead a transformation. And it’s not simply a question of whether we can. We can, and we must. We need the people who are shaping the world we live in, those who are building the companies of tomorrow, to accurately reflect the people and communities they are building them for. The technology sector in B.C. presents the best opportunity to make this happen. É Shirley Vickers is president and CEO of the BC Innovation Council (on leave).

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Hands-on entrepreneurs are crafting the business model for sustainability



hat started out as a side project taking landfill-bound materials and turning them into furniture quickly became a business for Jesi Carson and Theunis Snyman.

To meet Lupii Café’s zerowaste mandate, Basic Design designed and produced all the interior furnishings and signage from reclaimed, upcycled materials | BASIC DESIGN

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The duo run Basic Design, a social enterprise housed in a studio at MakerLabs, a 26,000-square-foot Railtown workspace complete with laser cutters, 3D printers and other maker tools. While the company produces unique pieces of furniture and products such as wallets and mobile phone cases out of second-hand materials, the business is really centred on redefining the value of waste. “We just kind of began exploring with materials,” says Carson, who studied sustainability through Emily Carr University’s interaction design program. In discarded textiles and used pieces of wood, Carson and Snyman saw potential for products that were beautiful, sellable

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I love the fact that ‘maker’ is a word that’s getting a lot more use in common parlance

and in line with their environmental ethics. “We just started playing with them and kind of designed a product line together using these waste streams,” she says. “It led eventually to growing into a larger business.”

A Basic Design end table | BASIC DESIGN Jesi Carson co-founded Basic Design, a social


enterprise with a passion for

to the Vancouver Economic Commission, two-thirds of the 1.8 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste discarded in Metro Vancouver each year is recycled. The rest heads to the landfill. In 2014, 370,000 tonnes of solid waste from Vancouver was sent to those landfills, and the city is taking steps to lower that figure. They include the Green Demolition Bylaw, which requires certain homes built before 1940 to have 70 to 90 per cent of the waste produced during demolition diverted from landfills. It provides a lot of opportunity for those in the business of upcycling. “More companies and more people who are doing construction are now actively looking for people to take this material off their hands. So in a way it is shifting and it is becoming easier. It’s definitely not as easy as going to Home Depot,” says Carson, before detailing the work involved in acquiring the right materials, from sourcing to travelling to de-nailing and prep work. With an initial focus on wallets and bags, Basic Design has shifted to producing furniture out of reclaimed wood, either for individual clients or for larger organizations. The company’s first contract was with Vancouver’s Lupii

up cycling | BASIC DESIGN

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Community Café, where everything from the food to the furniture embodies the owner’s zero-waste ambitions. Carson and Snyman also provided multiple tables to Simon Fraser University’s RADIUS (Radical Ideas, Useful to Society) social innovation lab. Over the past year, Carson says Basic Design has tackled five or six projects, and with that has come an on-the-job business education. “I’m not a business person, I didn’t go to business school, but now I know how to do all my own accounting, and I know how to do my taxes properly, and I know how to do estimates,” says Carson, who also co-founded

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‘Making’ the business case for upcycling


A cardigan design by Adhesif Clothing Co., which offers garments that are

the Vancouver Trash Lab, which connects makers and designers with waste streams ripe for upcycling. “I feel really connected to that movement, but I think it’s a lot more diverse than people think it is.”

hand-made from vintage fabrics and discarded


clothing | THOMAS RUPPEL

isn’t necessarily synonymous with being sustainability-minded, but there is some overlap between the values of the maker movement and those inherent to upcycling. Just over a decade ago, California-based Dale Dougherty founded Make: magazine to cater to a growing community of traditional artisans and those with a passion for making and doing it yourself. He created the first Maker Faire in 2006, and in 2014, more than 135 Mini Maker, flagship and featured fairs around the world attracted

A dress by Adhesif | REBECCA BLISSET

Melissa Ferreira, the designer behind Adhesif | REBECCA BLISSET

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about three-quarters of a million visitors. In Vancouver – which will host its seventh annual Mini Maker Faire in 2017 – some local makers and designers have been able to couple their hands-on skill sets with sustainability-focused values. They’ve also been able to find a market for their wares. “Twelve years ago, the term ‘upcycled’ wasn’t even a term,” says Melissa Ferreira, the designer behind Adhesif Clothing Co., which offers garments that are handmade from vintage fabrics and discarded clothing. “Every single time I go on Instagram, it’s crazy how much I see happening globally. It’s so exciting for me to see it become this movement,” she adds. Ferreira doesn’t consider herself a maker, but rather an artist first and a designer second. Through Adhesif, she presents two collections per year, each with a dozen pieces. The accessories sold from her Mount Pleasant storefront begin at around $49, whereas a coat can go for between $800 and $900. She regularly sells out, and often to “diehard” repeat clients. “That’s a testament … to our concept of quality over quantity. Really, we’re trying to promote conscious consumerism. We want our pieces to stand the test of time, unlike a lot of big-box chains that don’t, because they want you to keep coming back and buying more, more, more,” says Ferreira. “It’s great because it’s given me the opportunity to really progress my brand and my label, and use it as a platform to talk about sustainability.”

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Ferreira founded Adhesif a dozen years ago. She sources her materials from second-hand shops, thrift stores and through the vintage clothing network she established as a buyer prior to entering into business for herself. The sewing skills she learned from her mother, a seamstress; the emphasis on upcycling came from the exposure to the world of fashion afforded her by her previous position. “If most people actually knew what was happening to their discarded clothing, they’d probably, like, flip their lids. It’s a massive industry,” says Ferreira, lamenting the wastefulness of the global fashion industry. It’s that waste, however, that allows her to bring new meaning to the adage that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. “Using discarded textiles is just another medium; it’s like a collage artist using discarded paper or magazines,” she says. “The creative concepts are endless, really, when you’re using found materials.” ‘MAKER’ IS BECOMING A HOUSEHOLD WORD Q For

Jacquie Rolston, combining sustainability with making is an endeavour she’s trying to pursue “semi-professionally.” Together with her collaborator, Lin Ho-You, the duo has been making lanterns for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival for more than a decade. “Technically we were in the first Maker Faire, which was 2011,” adds Ho-You. With bamboo, paper, glue and a significant amount of time, the team behind Illuminiferous create candlelit lanterns on a volunteer or commission basis for clients that include the City of Surrey and Metro Vancouver. “We just started moving into lamps, and those would go to individual purchasers,” says Rolston, who also works as an illustrator, artist and teacher. “We’re just seeing how we can take the lantern technique and make them meant for electronic, indoor lamp use. And I think there’s business potential here.” “Most people don’t want a three-foot-by-four-foot light sculpture hanging from their ceiling,” adds Ho-You, who says some of the more complicated lanterns take upwards of 40 hours to complete, and are meant for outdoor use. “There’s not really a market for that.” Currently in the exploration phase of commercializing a lantern-like household product, Illuminiferous is also pursuing ways to make such a product more sustainable – swapping out glue for beeswax, as an example. “I love the fact that ‘maker’ is a word that’s getting a lot more use in common parlance,” says Ho-You. “It’s a great movement that encompasses so many great ideas, like working with your hands, making things instead of necessarily buying them, and a lot of the other people in the maker’s movement are also interested in sustainability issues.” Such issues include life-cycle design and the cradleto-cradle concept, which include thinking through what happens to a product at the end of its use, and building sustainable disposal or reuse into the product’s initial design. Both concepts are deeply embedded into British Columbia Institute of Technology’s School of Construction and the Environment programs, according to instructor

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Dixie Hudson. “I’ve been a designer for over 30 years, and I definitely caused a lot of da mage to the planet and the buildings that I was designing for people,” says Hudson, who runs her own interior design business under D.Hudson Design Inc. By encouraging students to reuse the materials they have, and by introducing almost exclusively sustainable materials into the classroom, Hudson hopes the next generation of builders will look at their work from a different perspective – one where, for example, the materials of a project at the end of its life are intended for repurpose by companies like Basic Design. “What that does for the students is they recognize the value of reusing things, and not putting it in the landfill. All of a sudden they begin to see value in all of the discarded items,” says Hudson. É

A creation by lantern maker Illuminiferous Illuminiferous is a collaboration of lantern-makers Jacquie Rolston (left) and Lin Ho-You (right), who craft lanterns and all things that glow Ho-You puts the finishing touches on one of her creations | ALL PHOTOS HAYLEY WOODIN

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WHAT’S YOUR STORY? Samantha Reynolds | Storytelling is the secret weapon in your career trajectory

I When you are applying for a job, you are a brand selling ‘you’

run a storytelling agency, so it’s not surprising that when we’re recruiting for new members to join our team, we’re up front that we want don’t want stiff, formal cover letters or CVs – we want their stories. But this approach has value whether you want a job in advertising, accounting or aerospace – every employer wants a clear and engaging account of how you’ve triumphed and the valuable lessons you’ve learned from setbacks along the way. Storytelling is the best tool for the job. The most successful brands have been story evangelists for years; their bottom lines tell them loud and clear that sales and marketing campaigns

based on emotional stories will outperform data and facts every time. When you are applying for a job, you are a brand selling “you.” I have coached dozens of young women through their job hunts. Many felt awkward at first about rethinking their job applications through a story lens. But as with any sales pitch, your goal is to capture your audience’s attention long enough to make a persuasive case. “Let me tell you a story” is a potent opener. It reels your audience in immediately and invites them to listen. It’s a huge missed opportunity not to make generous use of this secret weapon in cover letters, CVs and in job interviews. Humans are hard-wired from childhood to lean in to stories, and the fact that most job applicants cram their cover letters and CVs with dry facts and lists of duties and responsibilities makes a story-rich job application stand out even more. So what stories should you tell? How you made a difference in you r prev ious roles, and how you feel you can contribute in an exciting way in this role. Anyone can say he or she is a team player, an excellent communicator or an innovative thinker. Stories are your proof. In your CV, for each role, tell a two- or three-line story using a challenge-action-result format. For example: “Despite an industry-wide recession, I increased sales by 30 per cent in my first 12 months by initiating a money-back, satisfaction-guaranteed policy. “At first, the customer service team was extremely resistant to the idea, but I slowly built buy-in across t he whole te a m , even from two vocal dissenters who became the policy’s biggest

ambassadors by the end of the year. I’m also proud of my role in mentoring two junior salespeople who both surpassed their sales objectives for the year.” Before your interview, know your five stories that best illustrate your strengths. Customize them to suit the role you’re applying for. Practise them but not so much that you sound robotic when you share them with your potential employer. Look for moments to bring them into the interview conversation in a natural way. Details are great but don’t drone on. Emotions are central to good storytelling, but it’s never appropriate to speak negatively about a past employer – end each story on a positive note. We read novels and see movies because stories entertain us. But we also seek out stories because we yearn to grow and find meaning in stories by relating to characters who confront and overcome challenges similar to our own. In the hiring process, you are the character and your job is to help your employer relate to you. He or she is looking for someone to join his or her tribe. Don’t show up with a bullet list of dry facts – give the employer memorable stories and you’ll leave them feeling inspired. É Samantha Reynolds is the founder and president of Echo Storytelling Agency, which crafts memorable stories to help companies celebrate their histories and individuals to leave a legacy.


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Women in Business Spring 2017  
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