CanadianSME Small Business Magazine - March 2021

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ISSUE NO. 28

MARCH 2021

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Welcome to the March edition of CanadianSME. This month is a time when we recognize women entrepreneurs since we take the time to celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s no surprise that women have left their mark on the business industry, which is why we at CanadianSME are honoured to feature some of the nation’s most exclusive leaders and entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs have come a long way in the last decade and taking the time to celebrate them and their achievements is a great way to honour them.

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Canada has numerous women entrepreneurs and leaders who have contributed to the nation’s business industry. In this issue, CanadianSME has taken the time to interview some of these remarkable women to see how they have shaped the business industry and what aspects have contributed to their successful journey as leaders in their respective fields. Among our exclusive interviews, we have AppDynamics Country Manager, Rebecca Leach, Founder and President of GoSipology Tonia Jahshan, Taylor Lindsay-Noel who is the founder of Cup of Te, Founder and President of Summer Fresh Salads Inc., Susan Niczowski, and the Chief Executive Officer at the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce, Sheri Somerville. These are just some of the remarkable women whom we have featured in our March issue. Although our issue this March is all about celebrating women in the business industry, we have also taken the time to include resourceful articles that we believe can benefit small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. Articles such as Four Ways SME Leaders Can Facilitate Growth for their Businesses in 2021, How Leaders Should Respond to the 2021 International Women’s Day Challenge, Adapt Your Security Protocols for Life After Covid-19 and Five Cyberfraud Survival Tips to Protect Your Business in a Digital Workplace. This month, we are all about celebrating. Whether it’s women in the business industry or the steps entrepreneurs have taken to recover during the global pandemic, we believe it should be celebrated. We understand the many challenges entrepreneurs have faced during these unprecedent times, which is why it’s crucial to celebrate each milestone, no matter how small or big they are. We hope you find this issue resourceful, and as always, we at CanadianSME, are here to help Canadian entrepreneurs on their journey to success. Happy reading and until next month.

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IN THIS ISSUE CanadianSME small business magazine

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Adapt your Security Protocols for life after COVID-19

18

Four Ways SME Leaders Can Facilitate Growth For Their Businesses In 2021

20

How Leaders (and Future Leaders) Should Respond To the 2021 International Women’s Day Challenge

15

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Five Cyberfraud Survival Tips to Protect Your Business in a Digital Workplace

The global research study, The Agents of Transformation Report 2021


IN THIS ISSUE CanadianSME small business magazine

33

MOST INSPIRING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS & BUSINESS LEADERS

2021 All Images, trademarks, service marks and logos referred to or appearing in this magazine are the property of their respective owners.



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Staples Canada Introduces Nerds On Site For Business, An Exclusive National Partnership To Bring IT Support Services To Small Business Customers Exclusive program with Nerds On Site will reach 1.7 million small businesses in Canada The Working and Learning Company, and Nerds On Site Inc. (“NERDS” or the “Company”) (CSE: NERD) (FSE: 3NS.F) (OTCQB: NOSUF), a mobile IT solutions company servicing the small, medium enterprise (SME) marketplace in Canada and the USA, announce an exclusive partnership to launch Nerds On Site for Business, which will support small business customers with IT and cyber security services as they continue to navigate the new way of working. A trusted provider in the managed IT and cyber security space, Nerds On Site for Business can support Staples small business customers across Canada with remote and on-site solutions for everything from setting up a company’s workforce to work from anywhere to managing an entire IT network. “Nerds On Site is ready to support Canadian SMEs with customized IT solutions,” said Charles Regan, CEO, Nerds On Site. “We are pleased to partner with Staples Canada on Nerds On Site for Business to reach more SMEs in need of IT services during this crucial time, with a suite of curated programs and resources that will provide the support they need to successfully and securely run their businesses.” With data, cyber security and managed IT services in demand more than ever before, one of the key services that Nerds On Site for Business will provide to SME customers is a nocommitment, no-obligation cyber security assessment scorecard of their business, with custom solutions to combat any findings. Properly managing and protecting business systems has become a pivotal step to remain secure in the ever-evolving digital world. "It's important that SMEs have access to the right technology and support to manage their workplace and remote workforces," said David Boone, CEO, Staples Canada. "In partnering with Nerds On Site, SMEs can turn to Staples for everything they need, not only for essential technology products, but also for IT support services to keep their businesses secure, and up and running."

To learn more about Nerds On Site for Business, visit staples.ca/SmallBusinessITSolutions. About Staples Canada Staples Canada is The Working and Learning Company. With a focus on community, inspiration and services, the company is committed to being a dynamic, inspiring partner to customers who visit its 304 locations across the country and online at staples.ca. The company offers five co-working facilities in Toronto, Kelowna, Oakville and Ottawa under the banner Staples Studio. Since its transformation to The Working and Learning Company, Staples Canada has demonstrated a renewed commitment to small businesses and consumers, through expanded services that go beyond printing in Solutionshop, thousands of new products, tech services, special events, and informative content with the Spotlight Speaker Series and blog. A privately-owned company, Staples Canada is dedicated to helping its customers work, learn and grow. Visit staples.ca for more information or get social with @StaplesCanada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. About Nerds On Site Nerds On Site, a company founded in 1995, specializes in providing cost effective, leading edge solutions to Small and Medium sized Enterprise (SME), serving as the complete SME IT solution specialists. Nerds On Site was established in London, Ontario with current annual revenues of approximately $10,000,000. The Company services over 12,000 clients per year with a superb 96.5% customer satisfaction rating (more than 90,100 five-star ratings). NOS's business model is based on Nerds sub-contracts in Canada and a franchise model for USA expansion.


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New report examines barriers facing Black entrepreneurs in Canada Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce study identifies key characteristics of Black business owners and highlights a need for additional data to better support Black entrepreneurs The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC) just released Building Black Businesses in Canada, a rare study examining the needs of, and opportunities to support, Black entrepreneurs. The report, supported by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), provides a qualitative look at Black business owners across Canada and identifies a number of personas that bring their needs and characteristics to light. The personas are designed to help the private and public sector understand who Black business owners are, the systematic challenges they face, and what they need to navigate them. While they tell us the story of some Black entrepreneurs, they are not representative of all. According to the study, the most pressing needs facing Black business owners are: Capital and skills for advertising and promotion, personal development and mentorship, and securing and qualifying for capital "There are many Black businesses in Canada that are under-banked, or unbanked, and the pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges," says Christelle Francois, President, CBCC. "This is our first report exploring the needs of Canadian Black businesses. We understand that this community is under-represented in research circles. This is why continuing to build on this report (and its findings) is necessary, along with providing concrete solutions to address their needs. Together with business and government leaders, we can deliver tailored programs to ensure Black entrepreneurs have the tools to perform effectively and successfully within the Canadian economy." Currently, there is little data about who Black entrepreneurs are, and a lack of knowledge relating to the textures and nuances of their communities. This disconnect impacts their opportunity to become aware of, and access solutions that can help them scale. It is known that Black entrepreneurs face unique challenges in starting and growing a business – particularly around access to capital. To inform the research, the CBCC hosted nine Virtual Town Halls with Black entrepreneurs across Canada to better understand their business operations, motivations, and financial viability. Additionally, soon the CBCC will launch a new research division concentrating on

data collection and analysis of Black entrepreneurs across Canada, and utilize the data to identify gaps and propose solutions to corporate Canada and government to improve decision making and tailored program development. "Black entrepreneurs are making a significant contribution to our communities and our country," said Michael Denham, President and CEO, BDC. "Together, we must address the longstanding inequalities that hold them back from achieving their true potential. BDC is committed to being part of the solution and we are proud to work alongside partners like the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce to listen, understand, and act to support them." "This report is just the start. We are committed to connecting and bridging the gap between corporate Canada and the Black business community for a more thriving and inclusive Canadian economy," concluded Francois. The study was led by market research firm, Pitch Better. To find out more about the study, learn about upcoming events and stay informed with respect to the Chamber's activities, visit www.blackchamber.ca/. About Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce is a national, non-profit, bilingual organization. We are a distinctive platform that supports Black businesses, promotes economic growth and prosperity, leads public and private sector advocacy and forms alliances and broad-based coalitions that represent the economic interests of our members and stakeholders. About BDC BDC is the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs. It provides access to financing, as well as advisory services to help Canadian businesses grow and succeed. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers a wide range of risk capital solutions. For more than 75 years, BDC's only purpose has been to support entrepreneurs in all industries and at all stages of growth. For more information and to consult more than 1,000 free tools, articles and entrepreneurs' stories, visit bdc.ca.


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Minister Ng Provides Update On Black Entrepreneurship Program Minister Mary Ng announces Ontario recipients of $4.8 million Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund top-up to support women entrepreneurs in Ontario to adapt and grow Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs make important contributions to the Canadian economy, yet they continue to face systemic barriers in starting and growing their businesses. This has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Canada is working to address these long-standing, systemic barriers with its firstever Black Entrepreneurship Program. Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, alongside the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, and the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, hosted a virtual roundtable discussion and provided an update on the Black Entrepreneurship Program’s third pillar, the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund. The ministers were joined by Rachel Bendayan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade and Member of Parliament for Outremont; Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and to the Minister of Digital Government, Member of Parliament for Hull–Aylmer and Chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus; Marci Ien, Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre; Emmanuel Dubourg, Member of Parliament for Bourassa, and leaders from Black-led business organizations from across Canada. As part of the update, Minister Ng highlighted that the Loan Fund will begin accepting applications in May and announced that the government’s investment in the Loan Fund will be administered by the Federation of African-Canadian Economics (F.A.C.E.), a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization. The founding organizations of F.A.C.E. co-designed the Loan Fund in partnership with the government and participating financial institutions. The F.A.C.E. founders, who collectively have more than 35 years of experience serving Black Canadian business communities, will continue working on the delivery of the Loan Fund along with participating financial institutions, to ensure that it meets the needs of Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast. F.A.C.E. is a coalition that consists of several prominent Black business and community organizations:

Africa Centre Black Business and Professional Association Black Business Initiative Cote des Neiges Black Community Association Groupe 3737 The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund seeks to address the specific systemic barriers Black business owners have too often faced when seeking financing. It will also demonstrate the government's commitment to addressing these barriers with long-term solutions by codeveloping programs to better support Black entrepreneurs on their road to success. Quotes "We are pleased to work with F.A.C.E. on the delivery of the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund. This is another important step in our continuing work to address systemic racism against Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The Loan Fund will be instrumental in helping Black business owners and entrepreneurs get the financial support they need so they can start up, scale up and grow across Canada and across the world." – The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade "As we build back even better and consciously aim to be more inclusive, we must continue combatting all forms of systemic racism and discrimination, including within our institutions. Black businesses have long struggled with a lack of financing in addition to a variety of other impediments. The government is taking another step toward economic equity for Black business owners and entrepreneurs in accessing funding, capital and other necessary supports." – The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth


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"This pandemic continues to shine a light on the inequalities that disproportionately hurt Black Canadians. That's why the government is providing additional support for Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs across the country who make invaluable contributions every day to our communities, our economy and our country. We know there is more work to do, and we are committed to moving forward together and making sure that every Canadian has an equal and fair chance to succeed." – The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development "We are pleased to work with the Government of Canada to address the disparities and inequalities in accessing capital that Black business owners and entrepreneurs have historically encountered when starting or advancing their companies, and that are now exasperated due to the pandemic. The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund is an essential support that has the ability to provide economic opportunities for Black business owners and improve the sustainability of our communities." – Tiffany Callendar, CEO, Federation of African Canadian Economics (F.A.C.E) "The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund is an important milestone in opening up capital, innovation and job creation to Black entrepreneurs and business owners. This provides an opportunity to not only level the playing field but also support Black-led small and medium–sized enterprises in advancing here at home and abroad. We are very pleased to partner with the Government of Canada and some of Canada's leading financial institutions in delivering the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund." – Louis-Edgar Jean-François, Chair and Treasurer, Federation of African Canadian Economics (F.A.C.E.)

Quick facts The Black Entrepreneurship Program includes: up to $53 million for the National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital and provide them with mentorship, financial planning services and business training. up to $33.3 million in support through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which will provide loans of up to $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The Government of Canada is also partnering with a group of Canadian financial institutions including Royal Bank of Canada, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, TD, Vancity and Alterna Savings, that have pledged $128 million in additional lending support.

up to $6.5 million for the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which will conduct qualitative and quantitative research and collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs' barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth. The hub will be run by Black-led community and business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions. Please note that calls for concepts for both the National Ecosystem Fund and the Knowledge Hub are now closed and applications are currently under review. The amounts above include costs associated with operating the funds. For businesses looking for short-term supports to meet the challenges of COVID-19, please refer to information on emergency response business supports including the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account. Please visit canada.ca/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information on Canada's response to the COVID-19 crisis.


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Five Cyberfraud Survival Tips to Protect Your Business in a Digital Workplace The rapid shift to new digital tools and remote work has fundamentally changed the landscape, opening the door to new opportunities – but also new risks. March is Fraud Awareness Month so it’s a good time for a cyber check-up.


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As a business owner, you’re used to taking on risks and deftly maneuvering around unexpected challenges to protect your business. Many small businesses have had to make radical changes, including how they work with clients, suppliers and their teams. This rapid digitization has brought many unexpected wins, efficiencies and opportunities, as businesses quickly adopted new processes and technology – like staff working from home, virtual storefronts, online payment systems, VPNs, messaging tools, collaboration platforms, file management, and video conferencing. Yet the rush to adopt new technology has also brought new risks, especially on the cyber front. With operations starting to adjust to the “new normal,” now is the time to make sure any pivots haven’t left your business vulnerable and opened the door to cyber criminals. In this conversation, RBC’s Chief Information Security Officer Adam Evans shares the top threats small businesses are facing now, plus the steps you can take to protect your business and recover from cyber incidents. As he points out, it can be difficult to understand, predict and manage the cyber risks to your business in today’s landscape, but there’s also no more important time because “fraudsters don’t discriminate. Fraud affects every sector and size of business.”

The Emergence of Cyber Threats in the COVID Era According to Evans, cyber criminals are “following the money” right now, playing on COVID-related fears as well as new work-from-home set-ups. Fraudsters are tapping into anxiety around COVID to improve social engineering for targeted phishing attack campaigns and ransomware. “Click here for urgent coronavirus update” and other such promises have been successful at luring remote workers into online scams. “When you marry that up with the amount of data breaches happening – i.e. there is more information out there than ever before – the environment is very target-rich for fraudsters,” says Evans. Given physical restrictions and virtual work/life requirements, hackers are also taking advantage of Canadians’ increased use of mobile devices to hack and hijack smartphones. And they’re seeking ways to exploit businesses who have staff working and communicating in different ways. For example, using home computers, personal mobile devices and home internet for work, instead of more secure corporate-supplied devices and networks. All of which might pose privacy and security challenges, and make it easier for criminals to intercept or access your confidential documents, financial data and information capital.

How do you know if your business is a victim? It’s not always obvious if your business has been attacked. In fact, you might only find out after the fact that you have been compromised. Statistics shows that cyber criminals are typically in business environments 200 days before owners realize they have been attacked. Some events, of course, are more obvious, and Evans calls ransomware the ‘flavour of the day.’ “What we’re seeing is that a cybercriminal breaks in through email or malware. Once in, they will collect a bunch of sensitive information, which, they will then move outside of the organization.” Fraudsters can then either sell the data or encrypt your business devices in an attempt to extort you into paying to get your data back. In these cases, the attacks are evident. But your next steps aren’t always clear.

What You Can Do To Protect Your Business As you might expect, there are steps you can take to keep cyber criminals out and protect the most important elements of your business. But as Evans cautions, it’s just as important to prepare for a quick recovery. “A cyber attack on your business isn’t a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’,” he says. Here are five things to consider:

Prioritize what you’re protecting

As a first step, Evans recommends that you understand your company’s most important assets – what experts call the “crown jewels”. Is it intellectual property? Data? Brand? Payment systems? Understand the risks associated with what you need to protect so that your business stays viable. “You need to spend your time protecting those crown jewel assets,” says Evans.

Align your practices with the risk you’re prepared to take How is your data stored, backed up and transferred? What software and hardware are you using? Who has access to confidential information in your organization? When you are aware of these key details, you can ensure that your set-up is aligned with the risk you’re prepared to take. If there is a discrepancy, you have the opportunity to adjust your processes before a cyber event takes place. For example, many small businesses have adopted new free or low-cost tools this year – ensure their use aligns with your risk threshold. This article was originally published on RBC’s Discover & Learn blog.


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Train your team + maintain a culture of awareness When it comes to cybercrime, the “human factor” can be your biggest risk – or your greatest asset. “Education is the most important step to take,” says Evans. Invest time and resources in training your staff. Set expectations for use of technology and data, and help your team understand what they can and can’t do. This can be even more challenging in newly virtual workplace with new tools. Even printing from home or emailing a document to a personal email can pose a risk. Help staff learn your tools, be aware of the risks and understand that everyone has a role to play. Show them what cyber attacks can look like, what they can do to prevent incidents and how to report incidents.

Have a crisis plan in place It’s wise to think about a cyber attack as an inevitable event rather than an unlikely occurrence. That’s why it’s critical to have a plan in place, so you know the roles and responsibilities of your team and whom to call for help. Like a fire escape plan, run through scenarios and practice your response. And don’t let the plan gather dust: review it regularly for new threats and get expert help to close any gaps.

Have a team on standby

Consider putting a crisis management firm and/or legal firm on retainer to help you manage cyber events. Having someone to support you through the process will be critical to recovery. While cybercrime isn’t new, today’s environment has introduced fresh opportunities for fraudsters and new risks for businesses. Understanding what the risks are, how to protect your business and how to recover quickly can help mitigate the impact and keep your business, your employees and your client data safe. Learn more: rbc.com/cyber. Listen to Adam Evans in this podcast for more details on what you need to know about cyber crime and how it can affect your business. This article was originally published on RBC’s Discover & Learn blog.


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Four Ways SME Leaders Can Facilitate Growth For Their Businesses In 2021 By Anthony M. Stich Chief Operating Officer, Advicent

Anthony Stich has one goal: to develop a team of exceptional customer experience leaders across the globe, empowering them with the latest industry-leading methodologies in strategic planning, customer success, and business development to successfully grow Advicent, the leading provider of SaaS technology solutions for the financial services industry, into a global brand. Anthony has swiftly become a thought leader in the FinTech space, providing compelling statistics, a thoughtprovoking perspective, and much-needed humor in a rapidly-changing industry. Prior to Advicent, Anthony spent most of his career in the financial services industry, leading the marketing group at Bank Mutual as well as performing national marketing and go-to-market functions between his roles at Guaranty Bank and AIG VALIC. There is no question that 2020 presented many unique challenges. In addition to the disruptions to everyday life, the business world had to adapt to a quickly-changing environment, with many small and medium-sized enterprises struggling to survive in the wake of COVID-19. A well-thought-out business plan with actionable goals is crucial in 2021, especially considering the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and market conditions. When creating a business plan, it is important to focus on specific initiatives for growing your business over the short and long terms —like prospecting, new technology, expanding service offerings or updating existing ones, or building out internal teams with new hires.

Pinpoint Revenue Drivers Increasing revenue is the goal of any business, but the difficulties of last year have made it even more important for SMEs to identify and leverage their main revenue drivers in 2021. Companies should precisely outline how each initiative in the plan will bring in revenue and divide those initiatives into two target segments: current clients and new clients. While current clients are an obvious revenue driver, it is important not to neglect this group, as it’s easier, and less costly, to continue to service an existing client than it is to prospect and onboard a new one. At the same time, offering enhanced or new products or services to meet demands that have arisen during the pandemic can differentiate an SME from competitors and may attract new clients.


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Identify Differentiators

Prioritize Goals

Take a look at how the lives of your SME organization’s customers and employees have changed during the pandemic. Then, based on how they have had to adjust, come up with ideas for how your business can best meet their new needs and priorities—and the investments that must be made to do so. Anything that can increase efficiency and improve operating procedures in order to better serve clients and employees during this period of ongoing uncertainty will be critical for fostering growth, and onboarding new customers, this year.

Now armed with a list of revenue goals, foundational work, and strategic projects, SMEs can begin to prioritize the list.

For example, is there a type of client-facing technology solution that can resolve digital workflow slowdowns, or strengthen engagement with customers? Is there smart technology that can help your employees better understand the goals of customers, and provide differentiating services to resolve their challenges? These are the considerations that SME leaders like you should consider in order to position their companies for growth.

Assess those estimated costs and timelines to begin to determine which are most likely not profitable or feasible for the year. With those options removed, analyze the list again and reprioritize it. Then, break those priorities out into monthly or quarterly goals for the business, while also defining smaller steps that can be taken to accomplish the larger initiatives.

Once prioritized, details of the costs and approximate timelines should be calculated for each initiative. This does not necessarily have to be a specific number of hours or dollar amount.; all that is needed is a reasonable approximation of what is needed to keep projects on track.

Invest in Your Own Business A smart business plan will also look inward at opportunities for improvement within the company —whether it’s offering employee development programs, implementing new technology, updating client-facing or back-end facilities, or exploring new partnerships that could ultimately benefit clients. Businesses that invest the time to develop an actionable plan for generating scalable growth will have a competitive advantage, but also need to remain flexible and adaptive to changing environments—a lesson most businesses learned in 2020.

Then, you can search for professionals in your field who possess the experience and expertise to implement the operational efficiencies and technology solutions that can differentiate your SME—and organize a marketing campaign which can inform current and prospective clients of your SME’s innovative services, and assist with recruitment of professionals committed to your vision.

Anthony Stich is Chief Operating Officer of Advicent (www.advicentsolutions.com), the financial planning technology provider of choice for over 140,000 financial professionals across more than 3,000 firms worldwide.


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How Leaders (and Future Leaders) Should Respond To the 2021 International Women’s Day Challenge By Margaret Stuart, Country Manager, Salesforce Canada A number of years ago I was working for a global software company where I was one of the few women in any kind of leadership role. I remember how, over time, it became clear to me that a lot of people in meetings were spending more time thinking about what they were going to say next, rather than listening to those around them. At the same time, I realized I was putting myself in a “backstage” role. I would think to myself, “I could have said that — I thought of the same idea 10 minutes ago.” But nobody saw me as having those big ideas, because I wasn’t putting myself out there enough. Eventually, this changed my thinking on what I would bring to leadership. How would I be faster in formulating my position on an issue, and how could I create an environment where there would be a lot more listening — where everyone’s voices are heard? When I heard this year’s International Women’s Day theme of “Choose to Challenge,” I interpreted it in two ways. We must choose to challenge ourselves to listen for those female leaders in our midst. And if we’re women, we must choose to challenge ourselves to speak up about our own interests and aspirations.

Listening Deeply And Accepting Honest Feedback Today, I try to meet that first challenge through a practice I’ve developed where, at regular intervals, I gather a handful of members from our team to have a social conversation. It’s a way of networking and bringing folks together from across Canada, and it’s an opportunity to hear diverse voices. To listen deeply means finding people who don’t just tell me the things I want to hear, but need to hear. My personal “board of directors” includes coworkers, professional mentors as well as some of my oldest friends, who aren’t afraid to be brutally honest with me. Being successful as a leader requires you don’t just pay attention to filtered information, but information from a wide variety of sources.


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This was a critical lesson I learned when I moved from working as an engineer to roles in marketing and sales. As an engineer, everything is very black and white. You always have to be right. Otherwise, to give just one

I’d also suggest choosing to challenge yourself by looking past traditional definitions of “successful businesses” and making sure you align yourself with organizations who share your values. For me,

example, your transistor is not going to work on the motherboard to which you’ve soldered it.

that means working for a company that values community, kindness, trust and courage.

In other business functions, and particularly as you

For other women it may be a different set of

move into a leadership role, the goal isn’t always to be right. You don’t have to know the answer to everything.

qualities, but ask yourself: what values do you honour? What values resonate with you most deeply? What values help you to be your best self?

You just have to be confident enough in the people with whom you’ve surrounded yourself that you can trust they will deliver results — even if they might deliver results in a way that’s totally different from how you would have. You only gain that confidence and trust when you listen well.

Choosing To Challenge Yourself My curiosity about how businesses run and what made various industries tick provoked my interest in moving beyond a specialized, technical focus in my career. But I also had to be intentional about making others aware of that interest. That’s where the second challenge comes in. Your sponsors and mentors can be miracle workers, but they’re not mind readers. Choosing to challenge yourself also means putting yourself out there, even when you’re not fully confident about the good things that will happen. I still experience this as a leader today. Around this time last year, I was asked to present at a meeting for a professional group that focuses on empowering immigrants who are contributing to Canada’s business sector. At the time, I wasn’t feeling the most confident about it but I accepted. Fast-forward 11 months, and I was asked if I would interview the former President of Ireland when she came to speak to the same group. An opportunity like that would not have happened if I hadn’t challenged myself to say yes.

And when the answers come to you, it’s time to listen just as deeply as you would to others, to recognize the honest feedback you’re giving yourself, and to make your next set of career choices accordingly.


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ADAPT YOUR SECURITY PROTOCOLS FOR LIFE

AFTER COVID-19

By Winston Stewart, President and CEO, Wincon Security Given the ongoing headlines warning of new variants and stubbornly-high case counts, it may seem like the coronavirus pandemic will be with us forever. The reality is that with vaccines being distributed, an end to the COVID19 crisis is in sight—even if it may still be months away. This could mean relief from any number of financial or operational challenges facing your business. Or perhaps it will be a mere continuation of our new reality, albeit with a very different look and feel, if you work in a still-thriving sector (and there are many) where your bottom-line has been largely spared since the pandemic took hold last March. Either way, your world has changed. You likely have employees still working remotely, which may reflect a permanent organization-wide HR shift. You may occupy less commercial retail or office space; or hold the same leases, but simply have fewer staff or customers on site. Perhaps you’ve been forced to close altogether due to the latest wave of lockdowns. A common challenge faced by any business at the best of times is security—specifically, identifying vulnerabilities, addressing them and then maintaining a secure operational environment at all times. COVID-19 has transformed the security equation for everyone. The ‘new normal’ is anything but when it comes to protecting your people, property and assets. As we slowly emerge from the reactive phase of the second wave of this crisis and take stock of the impact on our organizations, it’s vital to also conduct a strategic review of your security strategy and optimize it to align with your new business circumstances.

For example, the pandemic has shone a glaring spotlight on most organizations’ cybersecurity infrastructure—or lack thereof. An increasing number of companies have been hacked, their employees fooled into phishing scams, while some have even had their data ransomed, as cyber criminals leveraged the chaos of COVID to fill bank accounts with ill-gotten revenue. Consider taking this first step: work with a qualified cybersecurity firm to audit your systems and processes and fill any gaps. If yours is like most organizations, you could have many.


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Next, think about your physical space. With fewer people working on site, you likely have fewer eyes keeping watch over the figurative store—and that’s a potential security problem. It could be time to install better surveillance cameras, or enhance live patrols. Because your work environment has likely changed and your operational requirements have evolved over the past year, a full reassessment of your security integration infrastructure is also recommended. Your new security strategy will likely entail a combination of tactics. Now is the time to review security policies, procedures and technology to make sure you’re fully covered.

Lastly, think about your workforce and workplace culture. Maybe you’ve changed staff over the past year and need to modify protocols to reflect a contraction or growth in your workforce. Perhaps the nature of the engagement with some employees or other stakeholders has changed since the start of COVID-19. If your organization is tasked with protecting them, either while they work remotely or on-site, how can your security strategy adapt and continue mitigating risk to the business?

There are many security points to consider, but no time to waste. Take an objective look at your security protocols and act now to prepare for the new post-COVID-19 business reality. By Winston Stewart, President and CEO Wincon Security Winston Stewart is the President and CEO of Wincon Security, a Scarborough, Ont.-based security firm that has delivered property monitoring and protective services to retail, commercial, industrial and condominium clients across the Greater Toronto Area for more than 25 years. For more information, visit www.wincon-security.com


Presentation Fire:

POWERING

THE MIND-TO-MIND CONNECTION Adapted from How to Communicate Effectively with Anyone, Anywhere: Your Passport to Connecting Globally (Career Press, March 2021) by Raúl Sánchez and Dan Bullock What is the power of a speech? Think of the flames reaching from within us, sparks leaping from nerve cell to nerve cell, carrying our hopes and dreams through our bodies. Leaping across synapses as they travel through us like gathering electrical firestorms. One tiny electrochemical spark is monumentally influential in our lives. This spark has been the centrepiece of all cultural innovations, from those of our ancestors to the many inventors through the last decade. A fiery force that has become a newfound treasure for us to share, cultivated from our passions, consciousness, and ongoing purposefulness in our careers. The power of a speech resides in more than the courageous act of sharing an idea but sharing that idea in service to others. And like electrons leaping from atom to atom, we can transmit this energy to others. An idea can become supercharged. Researchers at Princeton University took a closer look at this energy, discovering that when we deliver a powerful story, we share nearly identical brain waves with our audience, similar to the way “mirror neurons” work. This research affirms that one of the most powerful presentation vehicles between us as human beings is storytelling. Dr. Uri Hasson, one of the pioneers behind this research, arrived at the findings for this shared human experience when analyzing the brain scans of both storytellers and audiences who were hooked up to MRI machines. His team determined that our brains essentially get in “sync” with one another during storytelling in an amazing event termed neural coupling. Sparklines.

Dan Bullock

Raúl Sánchez

In other words, during the live act of storytelling, firing neural patterns in listeners “mirror” those in speakers. No wonder storytelling remains an age-old and fundamental process that we humans instinctively and passionately use to communicate ideas, emotions, and motivations—storytelling transcends culture. The boardroom, virtual room, and conference room environments have become our new metaphorical campfires. However, when we tap into storytelling, we also tap into our ancient roots and a universal process that makes our ideas part of world collaboration, catharsis, and collective memory across cultures. Forge the mind-to-mind connection from the global stage by telling stories that: bond with our audience over a professional, social, or personal cause illustrate a skill, method, or process important for personal growth or global progress highlight how to overcome a shared challenge or achieve a common goal make a presentation “bigger” in meaning than its data convey our passion for a topic, and ignite audience interest in the process Yet, an idea doesn’t simply get its power from storytelling, nor courage in the act of expression—an idea gets its power from service, the most important concept of presentations in the global context. The most powerful narratives are those that inspire, nurture, and heal others. As Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren Daishonin writes, “If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way.” Service is the act of giving back the gift of ideas that have been given to you. As we do this, not only do our own lives change for the better, but also the lives of all those around us.


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THE GLOBAL RESEARCH STUDY, THE AGENTS OF TRANSFORMATION REPORT 2021 EXCLUSIVE CHAT WITH REBECCA LEACH Country Manager for Canada at AppDynamics Rebecca Leach is the Country Manager for Canada at AppDynamics, a part of Cisco, and the world’s #1 Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solution and full-stack, business-centric observability platform. Rebecca has two decades of leadership experience with technology companies, including her role as General Manager of Software Sales for Cisco in Canada, and as the Canadian Diversity and Inclusion Leader for Cisco. At AppDynamics, Rebecca is responsible for growing the Canadian business with a focus on key sectors including government, finance and retail. Rebecca is also continuing her diversity and inclusion work as she cultivates a world-class team.


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AppDynamics recently released a new edition of its global research study, The Agents of Transformation Report 2021: The rise of fullstack observability. What was the main goal of that study? What were you trying to accomplish through its findings? At AppDynamics, we started releasing our Agents of Transformation reports in 2018 and we wanted this year’s study to focus on insights that help us understand the complexity that technologists are currently facing in their work. We also wanted to gauge a general understanding of full-stack observability and the appetite for more business context in IT. We know a platform with these capabilities can address many concerns technologists are facing due to the rapid digital transformation that took place in organizations throughout 2020.

Our comprehensive global research gathered responses from board-level directors, CIOs and senior and mid-level IT management – including interviews with 1,050 IT professionals. These interviews were conducted in 11 markets, including Canada. The results revealed many technologists are still missing the tools they need to achieve their organization’s innovation goals – creating difficulties in isolating technology performance issues and applying business context to technology decisions to better prioritize actions. What survey did results surprise you the most? What were you most shocked to see through the survey findings? The survey results that surprised me most were the ones that revealed how eager technologists are for a unified solution to enable real-time visibility across the entire IT estate. This issue is something we were aware of when partnering with our customers in their digital transformation efforts over the last year, but what was shocking was the staggering number of technologists who reported a need for a solution. Globally, 95% of technologists say having visibility across the IT estate is important, and 96% point to negative consequences of not having genuine visibility and insight into the performance of their whole technology stack.

Among the survey results, it was revealed that 85% of Canadian technologists recognize that the technology decisions they make have a direct impact on their business performance. In your expert opinion, why do you believe technology has such a huge impact on a company’s performance? The findings I mentioned earlier are what led us to the critical next step of aligning full-stack observability with business performance. While the overwhelming majority of technologists agreed on the importance of visibility across the IT estate, 92% say the ability to link technology performance to business outcomes in order to show ROI will be what’s really important in delivering innovation over the next year. Adding a business lens is the logical next step technologists need to take to prioritize and accelerate their work, as the technology they use every day is directly linked to business outcomes such as customer experience, sales transactions, and revenue. In this digital age where customer-facing applications on desktops and mobile devices have essentially become the business for many organizations, delivering firstclass digital experiences and accelerating digital transformation has a huge impact on a company’s performance.


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The survey also revealed that many technologists do not possess the tools and strategy to effectively measure how technology can impact their business. What do you believe are some of the strategies that should be implemented to address this ongoing issue? A key strategy that technologists need to implement to properly measure their department’s impact on the overall business is to apply a business lens to full-stack observability. Rather than reviewing the vast amounts of telemetry data that comes with a standard full-stack observability approach, technologists need to observe what matters most in a business context. This will allow them to surface the most impactful information quickly, which will allow them to make sense of what is relevant and take action on the most transformative opportunities for their organization. Almost all technologists have recognized the importance of having the ability to monitor all technical areas across their IT stack. Why is this a crucial aspect and how do you believe it can impact the success of a business? There’s a rise in IT complexity and that is echoed in our report because the amount of data created across the technology stack has significantly increased from the application, through the infrastructure, to the network and security. With this added complexity, 85% of technologists across the globe state that quickly cutting through noise caused by the ever-increasing volumes of data to identify root causes of performance issues will represent a significant challenge in the year ahead. Three quarters (75%) of those polled state they are already struggling to manage overwhelming ‘data noise,’ so it’s safe to say technologists are eager for a unified solution to enable real-time visibility across the entire IT estate. The stakes have never been higher for technologists and their organizations to get the necessary resources and support in place, with three quarters (75%) of technologists saying their organization needs to connect full-stack observability to business outcomes within the next 12 months in order to remain competitive.

What would you say has been the biggest impact that the global pandemic has had on the industry? How has it created more complexity? One of the biggest impacts has been the global shift to digital-first business models, including remote and hybrid work environments, to weather COVID-19 and minimize the commercial impact of the pandemic. This has placed technologists at the forefront of their organization’s response. According to our research, this forced a 3X acceleration of digital transformation projects. Unsurprisingly, this caused technologists to find themselves under considerable strain, with 89% across the globe reportedly feeling immense pressure at work and 84% admitting to having difficulty switching off from work. Furthermore, many technologists expressed feeling frustrated about work (81%) and experiencing increased levels of conflict with colleagues (63%). On a final note, what advice do you have for technologists that can help them during these challenging times? Technologists need to promptly navigate through the flood of data to pinpoint the most imperative information and contextualize IT performance insights with real-time business data. They need to determine what matters most by quickly understanding how it impacts the business. This will help them prioritize actions, innovations and investments based on the direct impact to their customers and the business. Technologists are best able to apply a business lens to IT performance when they can truly connect the dots up and down the technology stack, cut through the ‘noise’ caused by everincreasing volumes of data, and turn IT performance into business profit. For technologists looking for additional help in these areas, please check out AppDynamics’ COVID-19 Project Assist program for free access to our software and support.


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5 AI Trends That Will Shape Your Business in 2021 By Christa Martin, CMO, Chief Outsiders The year 2020 will go down in history for a variety of dubious reasons. But for some companies, they will look back on last year and triumphantly proclaim that 2020 was the year they finally adopted artificial intelligence (AI) to grow their business. Why is it important? Because AI takes traditional market segmentation several steps beyond data analysis into actionable journeys. Campaigns can have multiple pathways selected by the behavior of the customer on the website as viewed through click, interaction and download behavior. Each can be personalized at every step. Many machine learning algorithms remove the complexity by automatically adjusting the marketing campaign to an individual or segment with editable variables including, but not limited to:

Headlines

Content

Colors

Reminder Times and

Email subject lines

Images

CTAs

more

Interactives

Copy

Time of delivery

Interestingly, AI, when deployed properly, is proving to be the quickest way to emerge from the pandemic-stricken economy with a new sense of purpose. That’s because, for all the ways that AI has been deployed in a customer-facing way to facilitate easier and more efficient customer service, behind the scenes, AI is proving to be a marketer’s best friend when it comes to audience segmentation. AI, it turns out, can do a lot more than just make the process of crunching data more efficient. With the proper implementation, businesses can deploy machine learning and AI techniques to create a one-on-one focus group to look at each individual prospect’s behaviors when interacting with your digital universe. And it does this in real time, so when strong forces (like COVID-19) shift the winds in the marketplace, businesses will be ready to reassess these behaviors.

Gone are the days where a list of three million buyers is segmented into five types of personas. Now, businesses can segment each individual buyer like a fingerprint, adjusting keywords and hyper-focusing content that is relevant to them. With such power at the proverbial fingertips, it’s little wonder that demand for AI is now exploding. According to a recent survey by marketing automation firm Marketo, 66 percent of marketers have deployed AI applications to help them identify the right accounts and individuals to target, though only 18 percent of B2B marketers have taken the next step in deploying AIdriven personalization. Here are some of the fundamental considerations for businesses to understand prior to undertaking the deployment AI for audience segmentation:


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Trade in third party cookie approaches: Google has spoken, advertisers using a third-party cookie approach will no longer have this option available for advertising and reaching customers after the end of 2021. But there is hope. A variety of new tools supercharge the process of sifting through acres of algorithms to deliver impressive intent data based on consumer behaviour. People must now go beyond the third-party cookies, those packets of information that identify potential digital visitors and serve up ads. So instead, marketers will need a more sophisticated approach with first-party cookies using new AI to match site visitors to deeper information, such as communication patterns on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The first-party cookie now becomes the key to the universe.

Companies can now use tools to examine how different audiences are reacting to different offerings or scenarios, to understand what is resonating with the consumer. Businesses will need that deeper dive starting in 2022.

Spiff those leads: There simply is no such thing as a sales-ready lead anymore. Sales teams have so much access to research today that it’s inexcusable to go in for the close without a clear definition of the wants and needs of the prospect. Using AI tools to gain a better understanding of the lead before the first outbound contact can be a momentous change. In some studies, salespeople have been 80 percent more likely to close a deal with a more complete sense of the customer, and a more custom-made pitch, so businesses can differentiate themselves based upon the buyers’ specific problem. So, what does this mean? Look for a platform that performs an analysis check on the prospect such as all their tweets, LinkedIn posts and more. Some platforms are now analyzing the writing of these posts and giving a DISC analysis of the personality type and how to approach them for sales.

Speed matters: Of course, if businesses are not first to the dance, they might still be stuck as a wallflower upon arrival. The key to making insights actionable–particularly if marketers understand that the competition is using the same theories, strategies, and insights–is to build a process that gets you to the front of the line. Some companies have successfully taken a digital lead, processed it with their AI tools, and delivered it to a live human for follow up within 15 minutes of harvesting that lead. It’s a fallacy to think that businesses can call that prospect back a week later and have any chance of closing them. This can all be integrated with AI systems as they’ll queue the next call for and be the “sales whisperer” on what to say and what to offer next, either a call to action or the next in line content to help convince the prospect and push them over the finish line.


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Convince, and convert: Strangely, the biggest barrier to full AI adoption for audience segmentation is corporate culture. Many corporate executives still struggle to fully commit to AIdriven data, particularly when it seems at odds with history. For example, one sales executive was dismayed to find that leads suddenly consisted of directors and managers, when they were convinced that they were exclusively vice presidents and CEOs. But, through analysis of the company’s sales data, it became clear that more than half of the company’s landed deals were signed by managers, and another 25 percent by directors. Though the executive was still hard to convince, you can’t argue with machines and data. And with a 75 percent hit rate of these titles, the pool of available prospects suddenly expanded. So now that marketers understand that AI can juice the audience segmentation process, how, in fact, do they take the next step?

Bring it all Together: Start small but do the big analysis. Download your data, analyze your pipeline, and hire a data scientist to do your analysis with fresh eyes. Then, list out all the areas for quick hits. Make sure that you then review the top three solutions for each area. Plan your budget needs and start your implementation plans. Next, critically begin creating a convince and convert plan. Yes, you need this. Start first with analyzing your culture. Is it fact based, or personality based? What are the held beliefs of your company? Who are the power players? Are they based in reality, or are they so personality driven that it's hard to turn the ship? The tougher the ship is to turn, the more you need a convince and convert plan. Start today. The year has started, and you have Key Results and KPIs to meet by year end.

Christa Martin is a Chief Outsiders CMO based in San Diego, California. She helps B2B, B2C, technology, SaaS, healthcare, consumer goods, and professional services companies identify new market opportunities, develop new products, and generate demand. More info at www.chiefoutsiders.com.


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Using Hypnosis to

Supercharge Your Success Christine Deschemin, CEO | Mental Health Expert | Hypnotherapist | Executive & Performance Coach Christine Deschemin is a certified clinical hypnotherapist based in Hong Kong. She created the self-hypnosis app, UpNow, and founded the Renewed Edge Hypnotherapy Centre. She is passionate about helping other people enhance their lives. Her quest for effective and proven methods for performance enhancement led her to the discovery of hypnosis. With a strong interest in peak performance, she has helped athletes, executives,

confidence. It is essential for you to have confidence in yourself, because if you do not, you will be the architect of your own constraints. If you believe that you are unable to achieve your goals, then your efforts are doomed to fail. If in the back of your mind you believe that you are drifting towards something out of reach, you will not be working as hard as you could. This “back of your mind” is your

entrepreneurs, and individuals overcome emotional and behavioral challenges and achieve success. As a former banker, she has experienced first-hand the stress and tension of everyday life. In addition, she holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

subconscious, and your subconscious is responsible for most of your daily habits and behaviors. Hypnotherapy helps you work with this part of your mind. By helping you transform your beliefs, it can help you reach those desired goals.

She is certified by the NGH (The National Guild of Hypnotists, Inc) in the U.S. and has received a diploma as a clinical hypnotherapist in France. With increasing competition in the job market, it takes more than a formal education to land your dream job. The technical skills needed for specific roles are only part of the necessary tools to find employment and success in the workplace. Interviews become more of a test of communication and personality rather than a complete assessment of a resume. This can leave highly qualified people jobless due to shyness, anxiety, or a lack of confidence. So, people need to work on building their resume, as well as building up their personal qualities. Self-hypnosis can help them do just that. Selfhypnosis has been used across the globe to improve physical health and mental health as well as accelerate personal development. It can help increase your confidence, overcome anxiety, fend off burnout, and enhance focus. Self-hypnosis is a great stress buster and confidence booster. “Confidence is key” is a popular saying, but has it really been understood? Projecting confidence is only one component of finding success and can become short-lived if it is not rooted in unshakeable self-


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Similar scripts are at play if you are suffering from crippling anxiety before interviews or presentations. The most common fear, the fear of public speaking, has prevented brilliant minds from gaining visibility in the workplace. In our current society, visibility means survival. The days when a person could toil alone in a lab or an office space and still expect rewards commensurate to their contribution are gone. Our modern times reward self-promotion. Speaking in public has become a prerequisite on the path to the next promotion. While it is normal to feel nervous before an interview or a presentation, it is a shame to let one’s nerves get the best of a person. Self-hypnosis works by targeting the root of the problem. It gives back control to anyone who uses it. And control becomes increasingly important when it comes to our mental health. Burnout has emerged as a pressing issue in the workplace. A result of working for too long or juggling too many tasks, it illustrates a total

Self-care can be effortless and effective. While it might look different for everyone, it must include a mind-body technique, aimed at increasing resilience and gaining good habits. Hypnosis is the only mind-body technique used by medical and mental healthcare professionals. It is also available online through self-hypnosis apps that bring to your fingertips self-hypnosis audios to manage issues and create resilience and focus. Our busy schedules do not allow much time for anything other than work or family matters. So, imagine, taking 25 minutes of your day to release stress and recharge your batteries. Imagine yourself benefitting from enhanced focus, increasing your productivity, achieving more in less time, and devoting more time for activities that give you energy.

lack of control that leads to mental and physical exhaustion as well as a flurry of ailments such as fatigue, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems. Speaking up, re-arranging your work environment, and nurturing relationships – the common remedies to burnout - can only be achieved when one regains control and engages in self-care.

Similarly, when you struggle with a lack of focus, your performance decreases. You can become stuck in a negative cycle and develop performance anxiety: the less focus you have, the more easily distractions can delay your projects and put your goals much further away. And all that energy you spent worrying, trying to catch up, stressing even more, is wasted. But when you start training your mind with a hypnosis download for performance anxiety, you can re-learn to focus and leverage your mental focus to move faster towards your goals.

Hypnotherapy is approved by many medical and psychological associations. There is even a term coined for the use of hypnosis in medical settings. It is called medical hypnosis. Hypnotherapy has been used by athletes to increase focus, enhance motivation, and achieve peak performance. You can find hypnotherapy audios to help you reach your goals. So, give hypnotherapy a try and join the millions of people who have used hypnosis to achieve a better, healthier, and happier life.


MOST INSPIRING WOMEN ENTREPREN EURS & BUSINESS LEADERS

2021


MOST INSPIRING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS & BUSINESS LEADERS

2021

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Marked annually in the month of March, International Women's Day is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women's achievements and raise awareness about women's equality. It celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. CanadianSME is proud to celebrate all women and their achievements this Women's Day, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality. This year's theme for International Women's Day #IWD2021 is #ChooseToChallenge – a call-to-action on building a gender-equal world. A challenging world is an alert world. This theme celebrates the tremendous efforts of women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future. We have covered inspiring women business leaders and entrepreneurs in the March issue, in which we have included around 40 successful women from across Canada for their special message to women entrepreneurs on this special day. Let us recognize, honor and celebrate the important and impressive achievements of women globally. We hope to make a positive difference for women!


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Tonia Jahshan Founder & President

GoSipology By Steeped Tea It all started with a cup of tea. In just ten short years, Tonia Jahshan, with her family by her side, has made premium loose-leaf tea the daily norm, by turning tea lovers into business owners through her direct sales company, Steeped Tea Inc. Her journey started in 2006 with a mini vacation to a Halifax bed and breakfast, with her husband Hatem. It was here, for the first time she tried Cream of Earl Grey loose leaf tea and was blown away by the flavour. The Jahshans stocked up, returning home, wanting to share this new found love with family and friends. Sharing a cup of Cream of Earl Grey tea turned into something more and Tonia’s vision to build a direct sales company was born. In 2012, everything aligned, when Tonia and Hatem entered CBC’s Dragons’ Den and partnered with Jim Treliving and David Chilton. Today, Steeped Tea has millions in annual sales and thousands of Consultants across North America selling loose leaf tea and accessories. The company has been recognized year over year, as one of PROFIT 500 Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, and Tonia was proclaimed as Canada’s #1 Female Entrepreneur by W100; received the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women award and has been listed as 1 of 6 Women to Watch on forbes.com

There will come a time in your life ( or maybe multiple times) when someone will tell you that you can't do something. When someone tells you and others ( behind your back), you will fail. I'm here to tell you there is only one way to prove them wrong. WORK YOUR A$$ off and never let their words stop you. Celebrate your successes, no matter how big, no matter how small, and never let anyone make you feel bad about them.


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Hon. Mary Ng, P.C., M.P. Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Advancing women’s economic empowerment is not only the right thing to do – it’s necessary for Canada’s success. In 2018, our government made an unprecedented investment with Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. This has been a challenging year that has disproportionately impacted women entrepreneurs and business owners, and we know that women’s empowerment continues to be the way forward. We will keep supporting women in a kaleidoscope of ways: from legislating pay equity and universal childcare, to creating an Action Plan for Women in the Economy and making inclusive investments so women can grow their businesses in Canada and globally. From promoting Canada to the world as a great place to do business, to helping our entrepreneurs and businesses grow and access new markets – Minister Ng is focused on helping Canadians succeed. First elected the Member of Parliament for Markham–Thornhill in April 2017, Minister Ng was first appointed to Cabinet in July 2018 as Minister for Small Business and Export Promotion. After being successfully re-elected in October 2019, she became Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.


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Rola Dagher Global Channel Chief

Dell Technologies As much as we are far apart, we need to be there for each other. I value the many roles we have to play as women today- The protector, provider, fighter but the women we need to value the most right now more than ever is the Survivor in us. As the ultimate power in us today, is to empower ourselves and each other to build a stronger and a more inclusive future for all. Always remember, Your struggle today is your power tomorrow. Describing herself as a proud Lebanese and grateful Canadian, Rola Dagher appreciates every part of her journey - the journey that led her to Canada and provided her with every opportunity to make something of herself. Dagher began her career in technology 25 years ago and her focus on customers, people and leadership continues to define the leader she is today – a servant leader. She believes that to serve your customers you need to serve your people, the common denominator for success. Dagher philosophy is Learn it, Earn it, Return it. The culture of putting people first and the engrained values of giving back. And, at the heart of all this is technology – the foundation for all that we do, the catalyst for economic development and the driver of human progress. Dagher’s focus starts and ends with creating the best place to work for employees. She truly believes that in the digital age an empowered, inspired, inclusive, diverse and adaptable workforce is fundamental to any company's success. She also believes technology is a powerful enabler but people are the transformers.


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On International Women’s Day I am proud – of myself, of other women and of the future women to come. I’m proud of our complexities and our accomplishments. Proud of our femininity and strength. Proud of our practicality and our intuition. Today I recognize that to single out this day means that although we have come so far, there is still a way to go. To the women that paved the way allowing us to arrive here now was no small feat. I am forever grateful and hope to build on what you’ve helped set in motion. Today I pay tribute to the women in my life that mean everything to me. My mother, my daughters, my mentors, and my truly wonderful girlfriends. I celebrate you!”

Manjit is the co-founder and co-owner of the Minhas Brewery, Distillery and Winery. She started her companies at the ripe age of 19 in Alberta, when she launched her spirits in 1999 and her beers in 2002 in Alberta with her business partner and brother, Ravinder Minhas. Together with $10,000 they gave the big boys a run for their money, thereby becoming the first successful company to enter the Canadian beer industry in many decades. Currently, she has over 90 brands of beers, spirits, liqueurs and wines. Her products are sold in 5 provinces (Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia), as well as 47 states throughout the USA and 16 other countries. Over the last few years, wherever Manjit and Ravinder have entered the marketplace, and especially in Canada, they have single headedly caused a huge stir in the marketplace. To date, her companies have sold over 7 billion pints of beer! Many beer drinkers in Canada and USA have welcomed her style of beer as a tasty alternative to the higher priced mediocre beers that dominate the marketplace.

Manj i t Mi nhas CEO and Co-founder, Minhas Breweries and Distilleries and Dragon on Dragons' Den


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Arlene Dickinson CEO, District Ventures Capital

From the front lines to behind-the-scenes; in boardrooms as executives to classrooms filled with children; women have played an essential role in fighting the pandemic. Despite the critical roles we play, we have suffered disproportionately with increased unemployment, domestic violence and poverty. A narrative that we are all sadly too familiar with – and now amplified. The road to pandemic recovery is a long one and will take all of us. One thing is clear, however – a brighter future for everyone is one where women are treated with equality in the workplace and have the same opportunities, pay, duties, respect and voice. Arlene Dickinson is a serial entrepreneur and General Partner of District Ventures Capital, a venture capital fund focused on helping market, fund and grow entrepreneurs and their companies, in the food and health space. She is a three-time best-selling author, podcaster and accomplished public speaker. Dickinson is widely recognized for her role as a Dragon/Venture Capitalist for over 12 seasons on the multi-award-winning CBC television series, Dragons Den. Ms. Dickinson’s leadership has been recognized many times, including Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Hall of Fame, the Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, as well as PROFIT and Chatelaine’s Top 100 Women Business Owners. She is a Marketing Hall of Legends inductee and a proud recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award. Dickinson has served for many years as an Honourary Captain in the Royal Canadian Navy. She sits on several public and private boards and is actively involved in supporting community and country.


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Taylor Lindsay-Noel Founder - Cup of Te

“We as women are powerful forces that have the potential to do any and everything, we put our minds to. We also have the opportunity to lift up our fellow sisters so that we can all have a chance to eat at the table. Remember to always be kind, speak up for others in rooms of opportunity and be unapologetically yourself in every moment of your life.”

Founder of Cup of Té, a premier online retailer of loose-leaf organic teas and teaware, Taylor LindsayNoel was determined to turn a life-defining situation into a passion that has today transformed her into a flourishing entrepreneur. Early in her career as a gymnast, Taylor suffered a career-ending accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down and wheelchair bound for life. Taylor was determined to overcome her challenges and transform her situation into something meaningful, so she launched Cup of Té with the goal of providing Canada’s finest looseleaf organic teas and teaware.


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Anne De Aragon Vice President and Country Manager

GoDaddy Canada ‘As we celebrate International Women’s Day my advice for women entrepreneurs is to not be afraid to seek mentorship, or be a mentor yourself. Feel empowered to take ownership of your career and nurture it. Remember those lessons you learned from your mentors and use it as advice to propel forward. It is important to also remember to take care of yourself and never sell yourself short. Remember this as we as women work towards a more equal future. At GoDaddy we champion the everyday entrepreneur and want people to feel empowered that they have what it takes to be a small business owner.’

Anne De Aragon is the Vice President and Country Manager for GoDaddy Canada, the company that empowers everyday entrepreneurs. In this role, she is responsible for all GoDaddy operations in Canada, leading the charge on business strategy and growth in Canada. Anne De Aragon joined GoDaddy in 2015 bringing her expertise of the small business and entrepreneurial landscape in Canada to the team. Throughout her tenure at GoDaddy, she has worked closely with Canadian small businesses to understand their needs to help them reap the benefits of having an online presence. Anne has also been a driving force behind GoDaddy’s partnership with the Toronto Raptors for the past four years, resulting in some of the most successful branding campaigns in the company’s history. This past year, she spearheaded the No Celebrity Necessary campaign, highlighting real Canadian small business owners and Olympian Andre De Grasse.


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Lori Darlington Vice President, Small Business & Strategic Partnerships, RBC This year the theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’ because challenge leads to change. I believe each of us has the capability to be personal agents of change when it comes to inclusion. Whether it’s speaking up for others, serving as an ally or continuing to learn and educate ourselves about gender equality. So as we acknowledge the impact COVID19 has had on women both here in Lori Darlington is the Vice President, Small Business & Strategic Partnerships. She is responsible for leading RBC’s Small Business segment and teams. In her role, Lori provides strategic oversight in delivering market-leading client experiences through innovative partnerships and differentiated, beyond banking solutions to help aspiring entrepreneurs and Canadian business owners start, manage and grow their ventures. She also leads the strategy development for RBC’s Business Financial Services portfolio, including its client experience, CRM (client relationship management) and data analytics strategies. Lori has more than 20 years of experience within the financial services and technology sectors. In her previous roles, Lori has had a strong focus on sales, client acquisitions and national employee engagement across various product groups, branch networks, large operation centres and corporate head office environments. Lori earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of Western Ontario and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Canada and globally, I encourage ongoing conversation and action to celebrate and support women leaders and business owners who can inspire future generations to take the same journey.


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Susan Niczowski Founder and President

Summer Fresh Salads Inc. Susan Niczowski, Founder and President of Summer Fresh Salads Inc., is an industry innovator in the food landscape and is known for shaping the fresh, gourmet food category as we know it today. With a BSC in Chemistry and a passion for food, Niczowski identified the need for healthy, convenient, ready-to-eat consumer packaged goods. With the decision to pursue this market three decades ago, Summer Fresh was created. On a mission to provide real food consumers can feel good about eating, the family-owned company has become a staple in homes across North America with its small-batch hummus, dips and salads made from fresh, simple ingredients. Niczowski’s Food is Fashion™philosophy has made Summer Fresh the innovative brand it is today, known for setting trends with new and exciting flavours from season to season. After 30 years in the industry, both Niczowski and Summer Fresh have been recognized with a number of accolades and awards, including RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur, W100 Top Women Entrepreneurs and Canada’s 50 Best Managed companies over 22 years running.

My advice is simple: love what you do. When you love what you do, the work is fun and all the more rewarding. I’ve embodied this philosophy in everything I do at Summer Fresh. Whether it's helping Canadian’s feel good about what they are eating or developing new recipes and flavours with my team, my life’s work is having fun - with food. And that, I can tell you, has been my recipe for success for 30 years


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Sheri Somerville Chief Executive Officer

Atlantic Chamber of Commerce Inc. Sheri Somerville is CEO of Atlantic Chamber of Commerce (ACC), the largest accredited business association in Atlantic Canada representing more than 16,000 businesses through its network of 94 chambers and 30 corporate partners. She is a globally certified communications professional with 24-years of multi-sector business experience, and partners with her members to influence an environment in Atlantic Canada where business succeeds. A successful entrepreneur, business executive and award-winning PR consultant to some of the nation’s leading companies, Sheri joined ACC in 2017 as its CEO. Since then, she has worked to drive support to the network as business came to a standstill in the grips of COVID-19 in the region; as well as creating a chamber vision to serve the next generation of Atlantic Canadian businesses; cultivating new sources of revenue; spearheading new programming; enhancing governance and operational productivity, levering strategic partnerships; and elevating the Chamber’s corporate reputation and membership as she and her team work to shape and support a strong, resilient chamber and business network for the future.

When we put artificial limitations on opportunity and advancement, society loses. Being inclusive is a choice, but as women, whether its in life or our careers, we also need make a conscious choice to stand up, step up and speak up—to be an active architect of our success. Of course, there will be days of doubt, indecision, and even fear, but that’s normal, that’s comes with leadership. No one has it easy and no one has all the answers, but leaders surround themselves with the right people, keep showing up and persevering toward their goals.


This International Women's Day, I'm struck by the strength and resiliency of women who are lighting our way through this global pandemic. Whether as mothers, caregivers, or frontline workers, women have stretched themselves to new limits and have shouldered the weight of this ongoing crisis. On this global day of recognition, I'm grateful to women for being the bedrock of their communities and demonstrating through action what it means to lead."

Priya Chopra Founder and President

1Milk2Sugars Born and raised in Montreal with an East Indian heritage, Priya is the founder and CEO of 1Milk2Sugars Communications, a thriving public relations agency specializing in influencer marketing, social media and media relations. Priya launched 1Milk2Sugars in 2012 and expanded its footprint within a year, making it one of Montreal’s only boutique agencies to penetrate the national media hub of Toronto. During that same period, Priya helmed the creation of 1Milk2Sugars’ social media division, giving her team a first-mover advantage in the now-critical digital space.

Under Priya’s leadership, 1Milk2Sugars has grown by over 200 percent in the last two years alone. The agency has been recognized with numerous industry accolades, including a CPRS Ace Award for outstanding brand development and a PR Daily Award for Best Content Marketing and Brand Journalism. In 2020, the Growth List named 1Milk2Sugars one of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. Priya has weaved her passions for diversity, social awareness and female empowerment into the fabric of her agency’s DNA. In November 2020, Priya launched her most purpose-driven initiative yet: double shot, a talent management division aimed at amplifying BIPOC and underrepresented voices in lifestyle marketing. Priya’s outstanding professionalism has been recognized by the Forbes Agency Council, Bloomberg Canada, Ernst & Young and the Chamber of Commerce to name a few recent distinctions. She was also awarded the PR In Canada, Women in Communications Award in the “Founders” category for both 2018 and 2020. In addition to being an accomplished business leader and highly sought-after communications professional, Priya is trilingual and a proud mother of three. She feels incredibly gratified to be fulfilling personal dreams in tandem with her professional ambitions and is excited for what comes next.


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Erin Maynes Founder

Shopmakers "We all know the troubling stats about the number of venture-backed women-owned startups, and female founders are only facing more hurdles amid the pandemic. However, in the last 24 months, we've also seen a positive change. When women work together, the opportunities are endless. Kindness, tolerance, understanding, learning from each other - women are doing it and making practical steps towards the world being a better place."

Erin Maynes is a passionate brand strategist, marketer and entrepreneur. She is the founder of experiential retail agency Shopmakers, as well as the online gifting business foodiepages.ca. A graduate of the Queen’s School of Business, Erin spent many years leading national strategy and marketing initiatives for Canada’s largest restaurant group prior to founding foodiepages in 2013. Erin founded Toronto-based experiential retail agency Shopmakers in 2018, in partnership with BRIKA, where she specializes in recognizing opportunities for strategic retail development and pop-up programming. She has produced over 50 pop-up retail experiences across Canada. Clients include Cadillac Fairview, Oxford Properties, First Capital Realty, QuadReal, Riocan, Toronto Life, blogTO, Elte and more. She is an advisor and champion for emerging food and beverage entrepreneurs and sits on the board of Toronto’s Food Business Incubator. She lives in Leslieville with her husband and two daughters.


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Jennifer Safruk Vice President of the Mobile Division at

Samsung Canada As a woman in business, I believe it is essential to be honest and transparent. I attribute much of my success to being confident and speaking up when I know something, and, just as importantly, being honest when I don’t. In the last year, we’ve seen many women-led businesses around the world thrown into survival mode. For all of you who are struggling, I want to urge you to speak up when you believe in something. Don’t be afraid to push and don’t be afraid to ask questions when you aren’t sure. Be transparent about what you need, and people will respond.

Named one of Canada's Top 25 Inspirational Women in 2020, Jennifer is a technology and mobile communications leader with over 20 years’ experience at some of the world's largest technology companies. As the Vice President of the Mobile Division at Samsung Canada, Jennifer currently leads the largest division within the company’s Canadian operations, overseeing all aspects of the business, including sales, marketing, product management, supply chain and analytics. Her work and impact at Samsung over the past five years has been award-winning – most recently winning Staples ‘Technology Vendor of the Year’ and 2x Digiday Content Marketing Awards. In 2018, she led the business in achieving the highest brand measurement score in Samsung Canada history, as well as global #1 subsidiary in Supply Chain Management and Revenue. Jennifer is a true industry veteran, beginning her mobile career at Openwave where she helped launch the first WAP gateway and location-based services in Canada. She then held a leadership role at HTC, overseeing North American Sales for Symphony Teleca, and was instrumental in launching Palm’s webOS.


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Diane Scott brings over 20 years of global experience in the C-suite of enterprises in global emerging industries. Recently named as one of North America’s top female CEOs in the industry by MJ Business, Diane helms a rapidly growing business with contracted revenues from customers in Canada, Germany, Australia and Brazil. Diane is a regular international speaker, participating in the prestigious International Economic Forum of the America's Toronto event. Diane was also recently appointed as Founding Partner of the Centre of Medicinal Cannabis in London, a group working to help shape the UK’s new medicinal cannabis regime.

Diane Scott

Diane is also an advisor to several corporations and non-profit groups, including the Executive Advisory Board for Twenty21. Furthermore, she is an Activator at SheEO, a global community of radically generous women supporting women-led ventures. In that capacity, Diane invests in women-led enterprises around the world. She is a seasoned entrepreneur with a reputation for knocking down barriers in both business and social communities.

It is important that as female

Chair & CEO

leaders we stay true to who we are.

JMCC Group

We should make business decisions

Diane is an internationally recognized entrepreneur, venture capitalist and philanthropist with a track record for delivering results. She is co-founder of SX2 Ventures, an international venture capital business that focuses on innovation and value creation in the human care sector. She is also Chairman and CEO of the Company’s largest investment, JMCC Group and was recently described by Forbes as the company’s “savvy CEO.” Through her role at JMCC, Diane is helping revolutionize international patient access to medicinal cannabis by being the only company to be specifically invited, and the only company from the Caribbean region, to participate in Project Twenty21, the world’s largest observational medical cannabis study. She also developed JMCC Scientific, a division that encompasses medical product R&D, testing, manufacturing, packaging and labelling.

based on what is important to each of us, not what we think we should do to be competitive with our male colleagues. I don’t think I has to be a competition, but rather staying true to who I am as a woman leading with kindness but never afraid to be confident and, yes even assertive, when it comes to leading our businesses for success. We should not be afraid to be feminine, formable, and when necessary a force of nature.


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Cara Hirsch Founder and CEO Hirsch + Associates

As the founder of a female-owned and led company, Women’s empowerment has been at the heart of our business since its inception. I am honoured to interact with, see the achievements of, and learn from an incredible team of women every day. My unique position allows me to contribute to shaping the road to equality in an industry that is intrinsic to forming Toronto’s cultural landscape. At Hirsch + Associates, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility are fundamental in our efforts. We know that when women support each other, we can create boundless opportunities for one another to succeed. As founder and CEO of Hirsch + Associates, Cara Hirsch is a real estate aficionado with over a decade of experience helping some of the GTA’s most notable builders successfully bring their projects to market. Leveraging expertise honed through growing up in a real estate family, Cara built on her formative years by establishing a company defined by passion, collaboration, and a hands-on approach. Her instinctual industry knowledge enables her to launch each project successfully, and knowing that no two projects are alike, she employs tailored strategic planning from the outset. Cara is credited with launching over 30 projects in the Toronto preconstruction market and has sold over $4.4 billion. Her genuine dedication to her craft, strong relationships with the broker community, and familial commitment to her clients have solidified her success to date and remain the cornerstones of her brand as Hirsch + Associates continues to grow.


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Candice Loring Member of the Gitwangak Band from the Gitxsan Nation Candice Loring is a proud member of the Gitwangak Band from the Gitxsan Nation. She is passionate about economic development in Indigenous communities, which led her to pursue a degree in Business Management with a minor in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She has extensive experience working in the financial industry as an Account Manager Business Banking. Drawing from her previous experience in the financial industry, Candice now applies her business expertise as the Director of Business Development Indigenous Community Engagement with Mitacs. Mitacs is a national not for profit organization that powers research and development by connecting industry with leading postsecondary institutions to solve business challenges. Candice works closely with industry partners and academics to develop an innovation roadmap to help organizations reach their business goals.

“As a member of the Gitwangak Band from the Gitxsan Nation, I come from a matrilineal society; my late grandmother was a hereditary chief. Grandmother’s title was not earned by personal achievements, but by how much she did for our community. Before important meetings, I seek guidance from my ancestors — the women who have walked the Earth before me. Any success I achieve is an extension of my grandmothers and mother. Their sacrifices allowed me the privilege to follow my dreams. For me, being a leader is measured by the goodness in your heart and how much time you devote in service of others. Find your gift and use it for the betterment of all.”


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Anne Genge CEO of Alexio Corporation

As a female entrepreneur in the tech industry I have had many times where I have felt it’s been harder for me to break through barriers than it would be for my male counterparts. However, what became apparent over time was that we do break through, and each time it adds incremental strength to our toolkit. It is well earned along the way, but we eventually become unbreakable, and that’s where all the magic happens. Don’t forget to share it with others as they navigate their own paths. Happy International Women’s Day 2021!

Anne is 2020 CDM 'Most Innovative Woman in Cybersecurity'. She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional with a specialization in healthcare. She also holds certifications for HIPAA Security and PCI Compliance. With over 20 years of experience, Anne knows the challenges healthcare providers face with technology. She and her team at Alexio Corporation work with small businesses and healthcare professionals to minimize data risk and keep business systems running smoothly.


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You are worthy and able to impact millions. We all have a special purpose in this world. We need to believe in ourselves and the power of women supporting women by extending our arms to support one another because there is more than enough space for us all to shine! Remember that a strong community is nurtured when we give-and-take. When you lead with purpose and impact those around you, everything falls into place. Lead with your heart and connect with women from all over the world so that you diversify your lens. Listen and be a part of the important conversations and continue to open up, ask for help, and trust in the magic of what showing up for the women around us does.

As a consultant to +350 Enterprises with a global vision to provide support, opportunities and education to women everywhere while driving impact, Anna’s expertise in strategic partnerships, event production and program production allows her to create meaningful campaigns, events and programs for her clients with a heart-centred approach.

Anna Sinclair Founder and CEO

Total Mom Inc.

Anna Sinclair is a mom of 2 and is the founder and CEO of Total Mom Inc. which is a community organization & Media company taking moms from overwhelmed to supported both personally and professionally. She has partnered with several major corporations as a Creative Director through her firm Sinclair Creative Agency Inc. and has been featured in major international publications as well as national print ads, commercials, feature films, and award shows. A seasoned entertainment professional, Anna is a singersongwriter, speaker and actress and she uses her influence to drive social change and equality for women. Anna’s extensive portfolio features working alongside celebrity clients & artists and their creative teams, sponsors and partners with experience span the public, private, and non-profit sectors.


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Andrea Sesum Founder and Former CEO Ontario College of Business & Technology

This year more than ever, the meaning of community and networking has never been more important. Even though we may be physically isolated we can still ensure that we stay connected. Surround yourself with inspirational, nurturing and strong tribe of women who will challenge you and help you push past your very own limits. Remember, the real growth begins only when you get uncomfortable. Andrea Sesum is an expert in the business of education, and on a mission to create world-class learning experiences that help women. She is a founder and former CEO of Ontario College of Business & Technology, Co-Founder of HER Digital Academy and founder of Women in Entrepreneurship, and Andrea lives in Canada with her husband and two children but grew up in former Yugoslavia during the civil war. Experiencing this unrest as a young person taught Andrea the fragility of society, and how education can be potentially life-altering in the face of adversity. Over the course of her career, Andrea has combined her passion for higher education, innovation, and diversity & inclusion. Now recognized as a global leader in these areas, Andrea is a regular keynote speaker, and winner of City of Toronto’s Access, Equity & Human Rights Award (2015), CSPN’s Leader in Diversity & Inclusion (Year), and Nominee for RBC’s Canadian Woman of Influence (Year).

Andrea is also the Women in Tech Ambassador for Canada, World Leader Summit Honorary Ambassador for Canada, Education Committee, Global Women Leaders Committee Member, International Organization for Security & Intelligence (IOSI), Women's Committee Member & Honorary Life Member of Women Economic Forum (WEF), and the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) Appointed Disciplinary Member.


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Amber Mac President, AmberMac Media, Inc.

Women are natural-born leaders. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review study discovered women were rated more positively on 13 of 19 core leadership competencies. In 2021, during a time of crisis, we need Canadian women to shape a postCOVID world. However, this will not be an easy path. According to RBC, 1.5M Canadian women lost or left their jobs in the first two months of the pandemic since women are exposed to the hardest-hit industries. This “shecession” is well underway and we need to take immediate steps to protect decades of progress, or our economy and the world will suffer. Amber Mac is the President of AmberMac Media, a production agency based in Toronto, Ontario. Amber is originally from Prince Edward Island and is best known as the host of the award-winning podcast series The AI Effect, a popular keynote speaker on emerging technologies, and the author of two bestselling books.


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My mum operated two businesses – a flower shop and a Christmas tree farm – for a total of 46 years. Before her, my grandmother operated her own fabric store for 18 years. I’ve seen with my own eyes many of the challenges facing female entrepreneurs, including difficulty obtaining credit, the challenges of balancing family and business life, the lack of a social support network, and much more. But thanks to new technologies that give women opportunities to start and operate businesses online, social media platforms like Twitter that help connect with local communities and market to the world, and the groundbreaking advances of all those women entrepreneurs who came before us, female business owners of today are better positioned than ever before to succeed.

Michelle Slater Head of Business Marketing at Twitter Canada

Michelle Slater is an award-winning marketer, with 20 years of leadership experience in strategy development, consulting and execution within social, digital and traditional marketing disciplines for both B2B and B2C audiences. As the Head of Business Marketing at Twitter Canada, Michelle leads the strategic planning and execution of cross-channel marketing campaigns to drive awareness and adoption of Twitter with Fortune 100 brands in Canada. Prior to joining Twitter, Michelle pioneered social media marketing at RBC. Michelle is an avid runner, a marathon coach and volunteers with the Toronto Cat Rescue. She is also an event co-lead of the North America chapter of Twitter Women, an employee resource group to advance women in technology.


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Stephanie Ciccarelli Co-founder Voices.com

Stephanie Ciccarelli is a co founder of Voices, the industry leading website that connects businesses with professional voice talent. Voices has been written about in The LA Times, New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. A respected mentor, industry speaker, and branding expert, Stephanie is considered one of the most connected people in the industry. Her podcasts, Mission Audition and Sound Stories, delve into the world of voice over. Stephanie has been listed on the PROFIT Magazine 2013, 2015, and 2016 W100 lists, a ranking of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs. She is also the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

There are few things more fulfilling than doing the work you were made to do. That said, not everyone finds themselves energized by the work they are engaged in. Maybe that’s you. Now more than ever, focus on what you're uniquely gifted and qualified to do. This is where you shine and add value to an organization. If you lack the language to describe your strengths, take an assessment like The 6 Types of Working Genius. I did and it was empowering. Understanding how you best contribute to a team is a gift to you and the people you serve.


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Luna Yu CEO Genecis Bioindustries inc.

"Navigating a start-up company during the pandemic has certainly come with its challenges. It is a credit to those who paved a pathway for us and gave the women of today an opportunity to thrive and be who we are. It is now our responsibility and our privilege to do the same for the next generation. That’s not to say that this is an easy and faultless path, rather there will be countless hurdles to overcome. Fortunately, it is also what makes it exciting."

Luna is the CEO of Genecis Bioindustries inc., a company aiming to redirect food waste destined for landfill sites by converting it into eco-friendly bioplastics. She completed her Bachelors & Masters of Science from the University of Toronto, where she also co-founded 2 profitable software start-ups.


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Women have been distinctly impacted by our pandemic reality. Traditionally the wearers of many hats, attempting to manage the pandemic-wrought strain on our capacity has forced many women to make compromises, and our businesses, careers and wellness have taken the hardest hits. To emerge from our COVID conditions in the best possible way, women have to hone a new skill that does not come naturally to many of us: we need to learn how to ask. First ask ourselves what we need to manage through the complexities of our times, and then ask others for the support, flexibility and care that we are naturally inclined to give. Happy IWD to all – we WILL make it through!

Laura Williams

Lawyer, Speaker, HR Business Consultant, Workplace Investigator, Thought Leader, Corporate Trainer, Instructor, Podcaster Founder and Principal, Williams HR Law and Williams HR Consulting Inc.


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Natalie Doyle Oldfield President

· Success Through Trust Inc.

Natalie Doyle Oldfield advises business owners and leaders on how to increase customer trust, customer focus, loyalty and increase revenue through a proprietary scientifically based framework. She is the author of The Power of Trust: How Top Companies Build, Manage and Protect It and President of Success Through Trust. Five times Natalie has been named one of the world’s Top Thought Leaders in Trust by Trust Across America. In 2021 she was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Trust Across America. Other lifetime honorees include Howard Schultz, Chairman, Starbucks and authors Charles Green and Stephen M.R. Covey. Based on the science of how customers decide to trust, Success Through Trust has developed programs for companies to achieve business growth objectives including: growing sales, building customer focused cultures, building high performing trusted advisors and high performance teams, improving customer experiences and loyalty. Programs include customized presentations, leadership cohorts, a proprietary diagnostic that quantifies trust called The Client Trust Index™ and a digital online training course called Becoming a Trusted Advisor. In 2020, Natalie was invited to join an International Trust Council along with author Stephen M. R. Covey and Randy Conley of The Ken Blanchard Group. She is the only Canadian on this prestigious 11-member council. Her Building and Protecting Trust Model© is part of the curriculum of the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, Dalhousie University MBA program and Quadriga University Berlin, Germany, MBA program and is included in the communications textbook, Joy. It is also published in an e book called “Best Trust Models” (Next Decade, 2019). Natalie writes business articles for publications including Forbes. Natalie holds a Masters in Communications and Public Relations, a Certificate in Management (Georgia Institute of Technology), a Bachelor of Public Relations and a Bachelor of Arts. Her graduate studies focused on How Organizations Build and Measure Trust with Stakeholders. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with her husband and their two children.

You can have the best product but your business won’t succeed without customers. Customers buy from companies they trust. Without trust there is no sale. Everyone in your company has a part to play in the customer’s decision to buy from you. Trust is a learned skill. Everyone in your company needs to acquire it. Without trust, you won’t be able to build loyalty, engagement or advocacy with your team, customers, suppliers or stakeholders. And in a virtual world, trust is paramount. Business owners and women who master this skill will emerge from the pandemic with a significant competitive advantage.


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Nancy Tichbon Managing Director and EVP for Sage Canada

Nancy Tichbon is Managing Director and EVP for Sage Canada. Nancy is passionate about helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams by empowering them with the tools needed to thrive in today’s challenging business climate. She brings over 20 years of visionary leadership to her role, nurturing key relationships that drive exceptional experiences for Sage colleagues, partners and customers. Consistently providing strategic vision and developing highly capable teams, Nancy has demonstrated a strong track record of driving complex change, exceeding sales expectations, building customer loyalty and driving maximum profitability at Canada’s top tech companies. Previously, Nancy was VP, Sales for Bell Mobility and Bell Residential and served as VP, Customer Experience at Bell. As a customer success leader, Nancy built and managed Customer Operations at two Virgin Mobile start-ups, while leading Virgin Mobile Canada to win multiple, nationallevel customer satisfaction awards.

“I encourage female business leaders and entrepreneurs to give back to our local communities. Women are resilient, resourceful and strong, and together, we can pay it forward in impactful ways. I would not be where I am today as a leader without the support and encouragement of my mentors along the way. Our communities are full of women who need support and guidance to help build their careers, take advantage of opportunities, or grow their business. It’s the little things that can make a big impact so, shop local, support female entrepreneurs and mentor women navigating their careers, every single day.”


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"Our stories matter. Use yours to create impact, prosperity and legacy. We connect through stories. Share your truth and the lessons you've learned as an example of resilience to walk other leaders down their path to greatness. Create an environment that brings out the best in others. Lead by example with empathy and love. Your vulnerability and compassion are what will build the leaders of tomorrow. The combination of thoughts, feelings and actions will make you more productive and successful. We can be both effective leaders and conscious followers. Don't be afraid to ask for help to remain strong." Founder of A Walk In My Stilettos, Makini Smith, is an award-winning entrepreneur. She has successfully crafted a business in personal development as a mindset coach helping women reach their goals, a certified Proctor Gallagher consultant for her mentor Bob Proctor, and 4-time published author. Her first book is titled "A Walk In My Stilettos: How To Get Through The Struggle With Grace" with the foreword written by Linda Proctor (wife of Bob Proctor), her second book "A Walk In My Stilettos: 111 Affirmations To Help You Heal" was inspired by the encouragement of her readers. Makini created her third book "A Walk In My Stilettos: The Gratitude Journal" to share her success tools with other women which was followed by "The Couples Gratitude Journal". She is also the host of, the 5 stars rated, A Walk In My Stilettos Podcast for women looking for the tools and motivation to conquer their fears, own their story and strengthen their resilience muscle. Her passion to improve the quality of people’s lives includes making an impact in which she contributes her time spreading awareness of mindset, providing expertise on media platforms globally. She's been seen on Chatelaine, xoNecole, iHeart Radio, CBC, Vice News, a billboard in Times Square and much more. Makini has been nominated for the RBC Women Entrepreneur Awards 2018,2019 & 2020 as well as the Peoples Choice Awards for Best Black Canadian Podcaster. Makini does more than talk the talk; she walks the walk by being an example of leadership serving in the community including her run for Member of Provincial Parliament in the 2018 Canadian Election.

Makini Smith Founder

Walk In My Stilettos


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Kerry Tompson VP HR, Talent and Inclusion

Sobeys Inc.

I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with many incredible women throughout my career whose support and mentorship helped me reach my fullest potential. As we celebrate IWD this year, my advice for women in business is to never underestimate the power of these vital relationships. Seeing and speaking with women leaders inspires young women and gives them the confidence to advance their own careers. When we build each other up, lend a hand and channel the power of mentorship, we achieve greater satisfaction and our lives are all the richer for it. Kerry Tompson joined Sobeys in February 2018 as the Vice President of Talent and Inclusion. Over her extensive professional career, Kerry has held executive Human Resource, and Change and Transformation Leadership positions across a breadth of organizations and industries including Microsoft, SAS Institute, Loblaw Companies Limited (LCL), Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Dell Computer. Kerry’s outstanding business leadership has resulted in notable contributions including design and implementation of an integrated global talent framework for Microsoft, playing a key leadership role for OPG, LCL, and SAS’s respective transformations, and building a progressive Canada and Latin America Human Resources function for SAS, including leading talent and total rewards practices. Kerry holds a Masters of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) from The George L. Graziadio School of Business Management, Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration combined with French from the University of Western Ontario.


This International Women’s Day, there’s never been more reason to celebrate. Throughout 2020, we saw the devastating impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, but these challenges were exacerbated for women entrepreneurs who had already been juggling work with household and caretaking responsibilities. As a result, they’ve had to pivot, innovate, and rethink their strategies, all while making sacrifices for their families and businesses. That’s why, this IWD, I am more inspired than ever by the accomplishments of women business owners and excited for what’s to come. Let’s celebrate the resilience and perseverance of women across Canada as we continue to build an equal future for all. A skilled executive with a passion for partnerships and collaboration, Kerri-Ann Santaguida is the Vice President and General Manager of Merchant Services at American Express Canada. Kerri-Ann is responsible for leading a high performing team of more than 100+ employees with a focus on providing merchants with access to products, insights and services that help them more effectively manage their payments and drive business success.

Kerri-Ann Santaguida Vi ce Presi dent & General Manager, Merchant Servi ces

American Express Canada

A powerful advocate for women in the workplace, Kerri-Ann is the executive sponsor for the Women’s Interest Network, an Employee Network for American Express in Canada. She has been instrumental to driving mentorship opportunities for women within the organization, helping make it one of the most diverse and inclusive corporate environments in the country. Kerri-Ann has been recognized with a series of awards, both inside American Express and outside the organization, for her work within the industry and for her dedication to helping fellow women in business. In 2016, Kerri-Ann was honoured as a Women's Executive Network (WXN) Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner. At American Express, she is a three-time winner of the prestigious Presidents Club Awards for Leadership, and in 2012, and she was inducted into the company’s Hall of Fame for her outstanding career achievements.


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Karen Greve Young

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Supporting women entrepreneurs is a cornerstone of what we do at Futurpreneur – nearly 50% of businesses launched through Futurpreneur’s programs are founded or majority-owned by women. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted working women; they have lost jobs at a higher rate than men, and are more often tasked with balancing caregiving responsibilities and income earning. Entrepreneurship – whether full-time or as a side hustle - offers a viable alternative to traditional employment, enabling women to be resilient and flexible while earning an income on their own terms. We support all Canadian female entrepreneurs and continually strive to position them for success. Karen Greve Young is the Chief Executive Officer of Futurpreneur Canada, Canada’s only national organization dedicated to supporting young entrepreneurs. Futurpreneur’s unique model combines funding, mentorship and start-up programs to fuel the success of thousands of young entrepreneurs in every Canadian province and territory. Karen is an accomplished non-profit leader dedicated to fostering economic and social prosperity through new approaches and partnerships. Prior to joining Futurpreneur in 2018, Karen was the Vice President, Corporate Development & Partnerships at MaRS Discovery District, a global innovation hub based in Toronto. During her seven-year tenure, Karen led corporate strategy development, implementation and measurement, managed a global network of innovation partners and oversaw community engagement including marketing, communications and events. She has previously held finance, management and strategy roles in San Francisco, New York and London, UK, at organizations including Bain & Company, Gap Inc. and the UK’s Institute of Cancer Research. Along the way, she co-authored a book with her mother, Love You So Much, A Shared Memoir, about their shared experience through her mother’s ovarian cancer journey.


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Jamie Savage Founder

Leadership Agency As an entrepreneur you can’t wait for all the answers, you will likely never get them, so you have to be comfortable taking a few risks, and the most important risk you need to take is on yourself. Invest in your employees, lead with purpose, and don’t look back! There will be times

Jamie Savage is Founder of The Leadership Agency, the recruitment partner of choice for North America’s fastestgrowing startups. The Leadership Agency gets to help build the most impressive companies of our generation. Some clients include: SkipTheDishes, Endy, StackAdapt, TouchBistro, PagerDuty, Ritual, Justworks. Coming from the corporate world, Jamie launched her firm in 2017 and has continued to grow it ever since; expanding into the US in just 18 months. opening an office in NYC, and earning multiple awards, such as Best Service Provider 2019 (HRD Canada), and Best Professional Services (CanadianSME Business Magazine). A disruptor in the HR and recruitment space, Jamie contributes her expertise to The Globe and Mail, CBC, Inc., and HRD Magazine, and she’s on the Forbes HR Council. She was the Emcee and spokesperson for North America’s largest HR Tech Conference 2019, with over 3000 attendees. Jamie is an angel investor and a Founding Member of The Big Push: Taking women-led companies from seed to series A and beyond.

that you have to make hard and fast decisions, and you will only have your gut instincts to guide you. So, by investing in yourself, your intuition, your expertise, you will be prepared and well equipped for anything ahead.


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COVID-19 has made us all aware of what is critically important in life: health, family and strong communities around the world. Disparities have been fully unmasked at the same time we’ve realized how much we need each other. Now is the time to change the nature of our economies to redistribute wealth, education and health. Innovative problem solving for people and the planet, combined with new business models driven by values of cooperation and equity are the answer. Women have the innate ability to lead organizations that embrace both purpose and profit. Find the courage to build back better!

Shari Hughson Director of the Master of Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University Shari Hughson has been an entrepreneur, intrapreneur, social innovator, and extreme adventurer – pushing her limits by living off the land with only the bare survival essentials for 7 years. She started her first business at the age of 25 and cofounded four more companies - two great learning opportunities (aka failures) and two growing tech and data-driven health businesses. She also created a social innovation program in mental well-being that won a National Honour from the First Nations Health Authority of Canada.


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Andria Barrett Founder The Diversiy Agency, a Speakers Bureau and offers Diversity & Inclusion Training.

Andria Barrett is the Founder of the The Diversiy Agency, a Speakers Bureau and offers Diversity & Inclusion Training. At the Diversity Agency, we believe that companies, brands, organizations and governments are better when they reflect society and are diverse.

Take a moment to look at how far we've come and how far you've come. We've made great strides and although there is much more work ahead, every year we get closer to achieving equity. I stand in solidarity with women around the world working to support other women in pursuing their goals and dreams. I celebrate International Women's Day and honor those brave, women who have paved the way for where we are today. The theme for International Women's Day 2021 is 'Choose To Challenge' I encourage women of all backgrounds and cultures and socio-economic status to do just that. Challenge leads to change.


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Thank you for wearing every possible hat with compassion, grace, resilience and perseverance. Thank you for speaking up, shifting the narrative, and standing up for what is right. Thank you for keeping our homes, businesses, and communities going despite it all.

Victoria Lennox Founder and President of Startup Canada, Innovators and Entrepreneurs Foundation, NACUE and Lennox Innovations Inc. Victoria is the co-founder and CEO of Startup Canada, a grassroots network of entrepreneurs working together to build an environment for entrepreneurship in Canada. She is recognized by the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union as one of the foremost experts in entrepreneurship education; ecosystem and program architecture, governance, development and implementation; and, in fuelling entrepreneurship movements and awareness campaigns.

Take good care of your health and spirit. You were always meant to share your light with the world. So shine. It's time for us to lead our economic recovery and reinvent our economy to be more just, inclusive and sustainable through our leadership, entrepreneurship and collective action. It’s our time to come together and rise up.


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"Gender equality isn't just a moral imperative - it will unlock enormous economic potential that is currently untapped. The UN estimates that the global economy could grow by as much as $28 trillion if we achieve true gender equality by 2025. As leaders, we must continue to invest in girls potential and ignite change for all."

An executive communications leader, with 20+ years of international experience in the Advertising, Media and Communications industries. Passionate and driven. Shannon champions CMDC’s business objectives with sound strategy, inspired creativity, and humanity.CMDC actively operates to ensure a fair & progressive marketplace on behalf of their clients, agencies, and media partners. CMDC members account for 92% of the total media ad spend transacted annually in Canada. In 2020, that was over $10 billion invested in the Canadian economy, Canadian jobs and communications infrastructure. Armed with a relentless entrepreneurial spirit, Shannon created and operated a bespokecommunications business for five years – following senior international positions in media, communications, and advertising in London, Sydney, and Toronto. Over nearly two decades, she has contributed to the success of global brands and executives including BBC, Microsoft, Unilever, Diageo – plus media brands MindShare UK, MediaCom, AMVBBDO, BBH London, JWT, Cossette, and PHD Canada.

Shannon Lewis President

Canadian Media Directors Council

These partnerships have resulted in an extensive portfolio, from new business wins to award-winning creative communications. As well, Shannon has established an impressive network of strong, global relationships with the broader creative and business communities. Shannon is a mentor to the next generation in media to help youth get inspired, to network, and advanced thinking within a culture of connectivity and creativity. She also resides on the Canadian Cannes Lions board of creativity in partnership with The Globe and Mail. Shannon is a proud mother, avid skier, tennis player, arts advocate and has been knownto hike a few mountains, Patagonia to Kilimanjaro.


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I have always carried with me three things — three things that I can firmly say has attributed to my success. The first one is courage. Have the courage to believe in your dreams. Have the courage to raise your voice higher than that noise of negativity. The second, is confidence. Believe in yourself and all of your abilities. And lastly, conviction — whatever and whichever road you choose to go down, whichever goal you decide to pursue, do so with the utmost of conviction. If you keep these 3Cs with you, courage, confidence and conviction…you will be unstoppable! This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenege which has many layers of meaning. For Reetu Gupta, President & CEO of Easton’s Group Hotels & The Gupta Group, that means challenging the status quo while running one of the largest private hotel and development firms as a woman of colour in a male-dominated industry. At only 38, she is now spearheading The Gupta Group’s diversified business portfolio of 20 hotels + 6 more in progress in addition to the 5 million sq. ft. of residential and commercial properties under development across Canada. Further to her role with the Gupta Group, Reetu is also Chief Strategy Officer at Rogue Insight Capital, where Reetu focuses on investing in Canadian startups with female and minority-run businesses. Reetu also re-created and launched the not-for-profit Gupta Family Foundation. Currently, they are working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to build and enhance schools across the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Uganda.

Reetu Gupta President & CEO Easton’s Group Hotels & The Gupta Group

Reetu has been honoured with many national accolades, highlighting her professional success, leadership, and contribution to the community. She has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, twice as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN, and as a 2019 Female Entrepreneur of the Year by Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, to name a few accomplishments. Reetu is a leader, an inspiration for women everywhere, and is breaking barriers in the real estate and hospitality industries every day.


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Tabatha Bull President & CEO Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

“In a study we conducted at the start of the pandemic, Indigenous women owned businesses reported a more negative impact and higher revenue drops than businesses owned by Indigenous men. Over the last year, we have seen women rise to the challenge, support one another, and adapt to this new economy. Women, and especially Indigenous women, are innovative and resilient. On behalf of all of us at Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, thank you for your perseverance and for providing much needed inspiration. A critical piece of Canada’s economy, we appreciate your dedication to moving forward despite the setbacks.” Tabatha is Anishinaabe and a proud member of Nipissing First Nation near North Bay, Ontario. She is the President & CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business working with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses to help strengthen a prosperous Indigenous economy and Canadian market. Also, a member of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce board, Tabatha is committed to working with members to improve business competitiveness across all industry sectors. Prior to her current role as CEO, Tabatha joined CCAB in the fall of 2018 as Chief Operating Officer. Tabatha, an electrical engineer from the University of Waterloo, led the First Nations and Métis Relations team at the IESO, Ontario’s electricity system operator. Supporting and advising Canada’s energy sector, academics and organizations to ensure a collaborative approach with Indigenous leaders, communities, heads of industry and government, Tabatha sits as a member of both the Positive Energy Advisory Council and the C.D. Howe Institute’s Energy Policy program.

As a testament to her passion to better the lives of Indigenous people and stay connected to her community, Tabatha serves as a director on the board of Wigwamen Housing Inc.; the oldest and largest urban Indigenous housing provider in Ontario. Tabatha is also an active member on the board of Young Peoples Theatre in Toronto and the Canadian advisory group to UN Women “promoting women’s economic empowerment through responsible business in G7 countries”. Tabatha is the proud mom to two boys and can often be found in a hockey arena or at the baseball diamond.


MARIA LOCKER Founder & CEO RevolutionHER™ Inc.

For the last decade, I have had the honour of working alongside over 23,000 women who have made an impact in the lives of others through their entrepreneurial vision; women who have inspired me with their perseverance while bringing that vision to life. I created the RevolutionHer community to provide a safe space for women to come together and lift one another up, to celebrate our accomplishments, and create connections for collaboration and empowerment. Entrepreneurship is not an easy path, but together we are stronger, and when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. As a united community of women supporting one another, together we rise.

Maria Locker is an advocate and champion for the advancement of women and female entrepreneurs across North America and is sought as a speaker, contributor, and expert surrounding topics including economic empowerment, gender equality, lifestyle and business trends, and products that women love. As Founder and CEO of The Mompreneurs® Organization from 2010 to 2020, Maria worked with her team across Canada to grow their community of women to over 23,000 members and subscribers, presented 750+ events, and gave back over $80,000 to the community and charitable organizations. Now, as the Founder and CEO of RevolutionHER™, Maria is excited to work alongside her team to bring even more support, empowerment, and inspiration to women of all ages and walks of life. Maria’s expertise has been featured in Maclean’s, The Huffington Post, ParentsCanada Magazine, and Canadian Business, and she has appeared in a wide variety of national television and radio programs to offer insights and expertise, including The Marilyn Denis Show, Canada AM, CBC, Breakfast Television, Global News, CHCH Morning Live, and NewsTalk 1010.



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