Page 1

Powerful Women Magazine Waterloo-Wellington Edition

Ignite Your Passion for Success

Winter 2011

Surviving without a business plan Page 12

Feel at home in Canada Taking control of your future

Issues affecting newcomer women

Page 8

Page 16

Cover photo by Angela Lau


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Powerful Women Ignite Your Passion for Success


International Women

What’s Inside

People often ask me where I get my inspiration for issue themes for the magazine. I usually reply, “From conversations with people I meet.” Earlier this year, at a Guelph B2B meeting, I met a young woman who helps students from around the world gain international work experience through internships in Guelph. As an immigrant to Canada myself, and knowing some of the challenges, I thought the experiences some young women have had coming here would make interesting reading for a future issue. Since that initial meeting, I’ve met and talked with many women who have made Canada their home or married immigrants, others who trade internationally and some who travel abroad to work or volunteer. Then there are women who help Canadian immigrants (both male and female) integrate and find schools and work. Some specialize in helping female newcomers become independent enabling them to improve their lives. The reasons vary as to why women from around the globe make Canada their home temporarily or for the long-term; many believe Canada offers greater opportunities to improve their lives and those of their children, while others have their destiny chosen for them by parents or spouses, often arriving before adulthood. Similarly, the reasons that Canadian women travel to other counties to study, work or live vary. But, no matter what the reasons, each one faces a nu mber of challenges such as separation anxiety, culture shock, language barriers and difficulty finding employment or affordable decent housing. Despite initial challenges though, most women adapt, integrate and excel, often later making it their mission to help others following in their footsteps. Many women also give up their comfortable Western lives and travel as part of not-for-profit organizations to help improve the lives of women in Third World countries whose day-to-day challenges far exceed anything most of us here in Canada could ever imagine. I wanted to share some of the stories from these “international women” with you in this issue. Enjoy! Karen Coleman, Publisher

Winter 2011

Feel at home in Canada .......... 4 Translating for markets abroad ................................ 6 New era postcards................... 7 Taking control of your future ..... 8 Therapy of a different kind...... 10 Why hire immigrants .............. 11 Surviving without a business plan .................................. 12 Paving the way for a younger generation ........................ 14 Issues affecting newcomer women .............................. 16 Worlds apart ......................... 18 Travelling with peace of mind ................................. 21 Selling products in the global market .............................. 22 Let people know you’re out there ................................. 23

Regular Feature Recipes ffor success: E R Erika’s k ’ go-to maple syrup dressing .......... 17 To advertise or submit an article in the next issue of Powerful Women call 519-267-5050 or email Designed and published by Karen Coleman, Kaz Design Works

Available online at Publisher’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the individual writers. If you have any concerns about any of the content, please write to the publisher at

Winter 2011 Powerful Women 3

Natascha Voll

Isagenix Cleanse Coach

Feel at home in Canada

I still recall the first time my parents told me that we were moving to Canada. My brother and I had been living in a boarding school in Holland while my mom and dad and two younger siblings were still living in Africa. My mom desperately wanted our fa mily to be reunited and knew that if she stayed in Africa, she would slowly have to say “Good-bye” to each of her children to guarantee them a “proper education.” My parents did not want to move back to Holland, their home country, and had been looking at a nu mber of destinations for us all to be a fa mily.


didn’t know what Canada would bring, but I was excited by the idea of living together as a family again. I loved my friends and teachers at my school in Holland but missed family life with my brothers, sister and parents. I did not know how hard life would be for me and my family as we immigrated to our new country. Learning to survive and thrive here shaped who I am today. There were some funny moments learning to live in Canada – like the first time I experienced winter. I did not know it could be so cold. Then there was the day I went out swimming without a top. In Holland it was normal to go topless. Not so in Canada – after all I had not really started to develop yet and my mom did not know either.

I learned early on that not everyone in Canada is nice to you. My sister and I were bullied at our new school. My older brother was no stranger to street fights. One of his friends got killed in a street fight when he was just 15 years old. My sister and I timed our run to school so that we ran all the way and arrived in time for the bell. In this way, kids could not catch us and bully us on the way to school or in the school yard. Still, we would regularly come home with spit in our faces and on our clothes. Kids can be cruel. They knew we were different and enjoyed the power that comes from bullying those who spoke or acted differently from the rest. Those first few years were lean years.

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My dad did not earn enough to support us without help, and there was no help offered. My clothes were often too tight and too short as I grew and I got used to being asked when the flood was coming. As with most immigrants though, we rallied against adversity. My dad got promoted and started studying for his MBA. My mom started a network marketing job, cleaned homes and helped frail seniors in their homes till she could redo her nursing diploma and get a job working as a nurse. Within a few months, I learned to speak English well enough to be moved into the advanced reading and grammar group at school. My marks improved within the first year of arriving in Canada. Our parents used their life-savings to put a down payment on a home and we moved to a more welcoming neighbourhood. As soon as I was eligible, I got part-time jobs. It helped me purchase trendier clothes and allowed me to enjoy recreation activities that cost money. I worked as hard as my parents did, learning through them how to approach life. My family and I were fast learners and we found ways to survive and flourish. I searched out other opportunities to grow by discovering new countries and cultures. As a teen I spent time in Paris, France, working as a nanny, and travelled Europe before coming home to start university. As a young married wife, I spent

a few years in Australia and New Zealand and learned the lessons of living in a new world again. Ironically, I was hired by a company in Sydney, Australia, to help new Australian immigrants find work. Imagine that – a Canadian woman, born in Africa, living in Sydney helping people from Asia find their way in Australia. The lessons I learned were transferrable. Today, I work in the community and I also support people in their health and wellness goals. In my spare time, I volunteer helping new Canadian women adjust to life in K-W and teaching them to ensure their families stay healthy and vibrant here. Meeting them brings back memories; I know what they are experiencing. I recognize the same desire to succeed in a new world. I feel their sadness as they miss the love, acceptance and comforts they left behind in their homelands. And I assure them that, one day, they will love their new country, their new friends and neighbours, and feel it is home.

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New era postcards Your bags are packed; passport and work visa in hand. It is the opportunity of a lifetime. You are going to spend the next 18 months working overseas. As excited as you are, you want to be able to stay in touch with fa mily and friends easily, and as cost-effectively as possible.


one are the days of postcards and expensive long distance calls. By using the Internet and messaging applications, we can communicate with loved ones anytime for little to no cost. The basic requirements to communicate via the Internet include: • High-speed Internet connection • Microphone • Video camera (if video is desired) Skype and Google offer similar services. Both offer chat, voice, and video calling to other users for free. They also offer low-cost calls to land and mobile lines. Skype is available for PC, Mac and certain iOS and Android devices. Using Skype on your WiFi-enabled mobile device eliminates data plan charges. Skype is also integrated into Facebook, which lets you contact your Facebook friends from within either Facebook or the separate Skype application. The Google alternative is web-based. Therefore, additional software does not need to be installed; you and the people you communicate with just need a free Google account. Google Voice is available on selected smartphones and other mobile devices. Both services offer group chat. In group chat, multiple people can participate in the same conversation at the same

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time. Google+ allows up to ten people to video conference together. Skype requires a premium subscription for this same functionality. Another option for communicating while travelling is to use your current cell phone. If your cell phone permits it, purchase a SIM card from the country you are working in. This solution will give you a local phone number, and typically, incoming calls are free. Outgoing calls will be much less expensive than with your home cell phone provider’s roaming plan. With today’s current technology, communication is inexpensive and easy to access, allowing you to be part of home while you’re enjoying your new adventure.

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Taking control of your future Upon returning from an internship in Uganda, I took on the position of Vice President of Corporate Relations/Incoming exchange for the Guelph chapter of the world’s largest student-run organization. My job is to raise local short-term internships for international students. Along the way, I have been fortunate enough to meet an abundance of great people who have shaped both my personal and professional development. Two of these individuals have been kind enough to share their stories, and their impact. Aileen Cameron Scotland came to Canada just over a year ago. The reason I chose Canada was more luck than desire, although now that I am here I know I made the right decision. I was in the final semester of my Master’s degree when I started to look for jobs. Since I was from Scotland and the UK was suffering badly as part of the recession, my chances were very slim, especially as my degree title focused on forensic informatics. I was finding nothing, and graduation was looming, so I applied to a student-run organization called AIESEC1. I had no idea what AIESEC stood for, but I learned the program was a sort of student job board, except the jobs were available worldwide. I lucked out and found a “Security Analyst” position at the University of Guelph. The job description was perfect and fit hand-in-hand with my degree; I applied and eventually got the position. I left Scotland May 24th, midway through writing my Master’s thesis, which I completed by myself during my time at Guelph.


8 Powerful Women Winter 2011

When I arrived in Guelph, I was greeted by a group of smiling faces, eager to show me around. I faced a lot of issues in my first year in Canada, including my work permit being lost by Canadian Immigration, living in an overpriced deathtrap of a house, a landlord who was anything but helpful, missing my family, struggling with money, and adjusting to the Canadian seasons given the mild climate of home. It was more than I was used to, but that is where I am glad of AIESEC. As an immigrant, it can be hard to find friends, but going through AIESEC I landed with a group of 10 people who were going to be my “family.” I landed well over a year ago, and since then I have moved on to a full-time position at the university. When I first started my degree, I couldn’t have imagined that in simply a year I would be sitting in a bar in Canada with a Peruvian, a Hungarian, a Romanian and a Canadian eating a burger and watching hockey. Instead of being in Dumfries watching the Solway Sharks play hockey I would be sitting in the Air Canada Centre watching the Maple Leafs

compete for the Stanley Cup, and instead of being an unemployed graduate with two master’s degrees, I am starting a career in a field that I love. For me, Canada means opportunity, and although I have had stress getting settled, now I am beginning to feel like I fit in, and I know that there are still a lot more opportunities for me here. Karina Gonzales Ramos Peru fter two years of living in Canada, I have realized how challenging living abroad can be. I was working at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru for about one year when I figured that it was time for a big change: I wanted to have bigger challenges, to have different opportunities and to gain a competitive professional experience that my current work environment was not providing me. On my exploration process, I joined AIESEC, the largest student-run organization in the world. AIESEC gave me the perfect platform to pursue my goals. I came to Guelph after an extensive and very strict internship selection process. After two months of interviews, I got an answer that made my days different: “You have been selected.” That was the first line that I identified on my employer’s email, and this was just the beginning of what became my biggest adventure. Since then I have been working at the University of


Guelph, first with Computing and Communication Services and most recently at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. It has been challenging work and exhausting, but at the same time extremely rewarding. Living abroad can be overwhelming sometimes, especially if you have never lived on your own at all. Coming from Lima, my home, it is still hard to think that young ladies can live by themselves. Besides the fact that it is a really big city, the most populated and the Capital of Peru, it is still a very conservative city. So, when I said that I would be living away from home for about one year, it caused a nice surprise for my whole family. It has been a constant learning process; I had the opportunity to meet people from all around the world and the great experience to explore a new culture: the Canadian one. I am thankful that I am having this chance to share my experiences and I really would like to encourage those of you who sometimes hesitate about taking a new path in life. My internship was just that bridge that helped me to get a different professional experience but even more than that, it has given me the tools to know myself, my strengths, and my abilities.

Hearing about the risks that the above individuals took, the challenges that they have faced, and the rewards they have seen, make me very happy to do what I do in this organization called AIESEC. These women show that developing leadership skills professionally in a country that is not your original home has inherent challenges, but is worth the risk. It is about taking control of your future, and taking advantage of the opportunities that face you — no matter how challenging they may be. Kaylee Muise, VP Corporate Relations/Incoming Exchange, AIESEC 1 AIESEC = Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales

Winter 2011 Powerful Women 9

Therapy of a different kind “Busy… but good!” A commonly used phrase for us ladies when asked how we are! Ever feel like yyou’re running so fast that you don’t have time to stop and smell the flowers?

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ost of us are working 50 plus hours a week on top of managing our homes and families. One little escape that most of us can relate to is “Retail Therapy.” Ahh! A good ending to a day is sometimes going to the mall and finding the perfect pair of shoes! This past spring, I was fortunate enough to join STIMMA (Short Term Medical Missions Abroad) on a mission trip to Haiti. STIMMA, based in Waterloo, is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults in third world countries. The organization provides medical clinics and community support. For the ladies in these impoverished countries, STIMMA focuses on everything from basic hygiene, to breast self-examinations, and even how to take care of the other lady parts. Most of these ladies have never seen a doctor. They have little education and their living conditions make it next to impossible to do much more than survive.

Hard to put yourself in their shoes when the reality is they don’t even own a pair! Can we add “changing the world” to our list of things to do in a day? Not likely. But we can, should and need to make a difference. We can give five minutes of our time and our hearts. We ladies are known for our empathy and paying it forward. It’s what we do well. We live in a world of wondrous things but also a world of hardship, heartache and inhuman living conditions. Your time is precious but it is there to give. These ladies need our help. Pay it forward anyway you can. Whether it’s with a newly immigrated lady who needs a helping hand, or donating items to charities like STIMMA, or giving the education you’ve been so fortunate to receive, or donating time to charities. While we can’t walk a mile in their shoes, we can walk beside them and empower them to travel a new journey of hope and inspiration.


& F ind Your Spot! 10 Powerful Women Winter 2011

Why hire immigrants? Women in North America have come a long way to be where they are today. Our workplaces are legislated to provide equal opportunity. Our education and experience has meaning and provides opportunity to succeed and grow within our careers.


his is not necessarily so for women who emigrate here from other countries. Why? Because there are no universal standards for education, experience and skill levels. Women (and men) who move to Canada with doctorates, PhDs and other degrees are not allowed to practise in Canada unless they receive upgrading and retest, re-intern, or re-apprentice for their careers. Canada is known as the country of opportunity – and I agree we are. We live in a country that provides us with the opportunity to succeed in the career of our choosing. How do we assist those from abroad who choose to come to our country to reach the same goals? By providing them the opportunity to prove themselves as we Canadians ask of our employers! Employers are not aware of the funding and grants often made available to

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hire newcomers to Canada. The Immigrant Women’s Centre of Hamilton outlines a list of reasons to hire immigrants: 1. Immigrants are essential for economic growth 2. They are often more educated and better skilled 3. Immigrants connect employers with diverse markets 4. Productivity and retention is improved 5. Immigrants can boost your image In addition to the above benefits, many grants and subsidies are available that you as an employer can access to grow your business when you hire newcomers to Canada. Visit the Immigrant Women’s Centre of Hamilton’s website to source the right funding for you.

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Surviving without a business plan By Veneta Anand, STIMMA

Women living in marginalized communities have made great strides. They have overcome obstacles of adversity, threats to their health and safety, and inadequate education in comparison to their male counterparts. These hardships have left deep scars that have strengthened their desire to succeed and create a safe home for their fa milies. Time-management skills, multi-tasking and relying on community support are key elements of survival.


or these resolute women, days typically begin early with buckets on their heads to collect water for their family. Inevitably, the source of water is nowhere near their dwelling and the journey is made through rough terrain with a baby tied to their back or nestled on their hips. Mother Nature doesn’t work in their favour either. There is often intense heat or heavy rainfall along the way. This is clearly different than the luxuries of gro-

12 Powerful Women Winter 2011

cery stores and free flowing water afforded to the developed world. Typically, women congregate and cook communal meals to share with other members of the community. It is a time of socializing, a time for sharing the challenges they face. Women cook over an open fire. Preparing meals over flames accelerates the aging of their skin. The lines on their faces represent a strong, hard working woman who is able to

provide all the necessities. In order to make money for the family, most women will find work outside of the house. Usually, this means either finding work cleaning institutions or by opening their own “business.” The business is not like the typical office that we see in North America. It generally involves no overhead costs, no business plan, and no financial forecasting. In Zimbabwe, a woman by the name of Piripitika (loosely translated to mean to struggle) explained her “business” model. She collects purses from members of her family who have passed away and uses them as a means to a secondary income. These items are carefully placed on display on a tattered sheet outside of the local clinic. Approaching people as they leave the building, she trades her merchandise for other products such as rice and beans. Rarely does she receive money. It is common for a business to be set up more as an exchange of goods as opposed to a monetary transaction. Typically, after relief groups visit rural communities, many of the goods distributed are often seen on the “market.” Toothbrushes, sunglasses and hats are hot commodities, a sign of wealth and luxury to some, and a means to feed the family for others. The women often are in charge of the sale of these items. The children are usually seen loitering around their mothers as they attempt to make a sale. Days end early, as when the sun sets there is little or no light. It is unsafe to be out past sunset, so the women gather all their possessions and walk home with their children in tow. Many young women are having children shortly after commencing puberty. They learn early how to tend to their family and maintain a household. Often times there are multiple children in the household. In Zimbabwe, the average woman will have four children by the time she is 21 years old. Unfortu-

Photo courtesy of Angela Lau

nately, for these women, the end of daylight does not signify the end of the day. Homes still need to be cleaned, children put to bed, and with the return of their husbands, another set of responsibilities. Education is often an overlooked and undervalued commodity. The 19-yearold female who was able to make it through grade school, has no children, and is going to the city for higher education, is considered old and unwanted. Others mumble, “Who will marry her?” There are many similarities and many differences in the average life of women all over the world. They must tend to the household, find an alternate source of income, and make sure their families are healthy and well nourished. These challenges are basic to their livelihood/survival, similar to those faced by women in North America. However, despite the lack of a structured plan, strong educational foundation and the benefits of amenities, women in rural communities have found a way of surviving and creating a home. Winter 2011 Powerful Women 13

Paving the way

for a younger generation

By Karen Coleman, Kaz Design Works

Three decades ago a young girl na med Tahani Aburaneh was living a hu mble life in a Jordanian refugee ca mp. Suddenly, at the tender age of 15, her life changed. Wanting a better life for their daughter, Tahani’s parents had agreed to an arranged marriage with her first cousin who had returned to Jordan from Canada to look for a wife.


rranged marriages are not unusual in Jordan, but the thought of leaving all her family and friends to live in a strange country in which she barely knew more than a few words seemed daunting. So, to maintain some measure of independence and control of her own life, Tahani agreed to the marriage on the condition that her new husband pay for her to learn English and put her through high school. This was probably the best decision of her life. Coming from one of the most educated countries in the world, Tahani excelled at school despite the initial language barrier and the culture shock on arriving in Canada. Learning a new language wasn’t the biggest challenge; instead, what set her apart from her peers was her marital status. While her friends were out partying and drinking once school work was done, Tahani was cooking, keeping house and looking after her husband. After a while, she found the constant question, “Are you really married” quite overwhelming. To Tahani, although not something she chose for herself, her way of life seemed normal; she was following what her parents thought

best for her, and she knew no difference. But to her peers, her way of life was strange and intriguing. Having no time to socialize, she kept to herself and became somewhat withdrawn. Even to her family back in Jordan, her life in Canada seemed strange. Back then, marrying at such a young age wasn’t unusual, but it wasn’t the norm for a Jordanian girl to continue her schooling. In Tahani’s culture, women were expected to stay home and have children. Her family didn’t understand her desire to study and work as well as carrying out her wifely duties. She was determined to prove she could do both. And, three years into her marriage, when Tahani had her first child, as was expected, she continued to study and work, calling on her mother to help with babysitting while she completed her certification. Although the same high education is available to girls as well as boys in Jordan, girls and boys are still segregated at school, and this continues into the adult work place. Opportunities for women to work have improved over the years with many women now pursuing prestigious careers such as

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doctors, lawyers and pharmacists. But for the most part working women are generally pitied and perceived as needing to work to make ends meet. To this day, even though she is a selfmade millionaire, her mother who now also lives in Canada and her sister back in Jordan pity her “needing to work” as they see it and wonder why she doesn’t re-marry so that she can stop stressing and worrying about work. But being a pampered, stay-at-home wife is not in Tahani’s nature. While she chooses to work even though she doesn’t need to, her direction has recently changed from real estate investment to motivational speaking and becoming a published author. Learning from her own experiences and accomplishments, her speaking engagements enable her to empower other women, no matter what their background, helping them achieve the same success she has. Her real estate investment help book, published in January 2012, is aimed at helping women as well as men learn to invest in real estate. Asked if she thought she would have followed the same career path if she had remained in Jordan, she believes that being a realtor would not have been possible. “Over there, real estate (and investing) is a man’s world,” she insists. Religion (she’s a Muslim) and culture do not permit women to be alone with men other than their husbands or other family members. “Men make the purchasing decision when it comes to real estate, and women cannot take a male to view a house, so being a realtor would not have been an option,” she explains, so publishing a book on real estate investing would probably also be out of the question. Work for Tahani, as well as life in gen-

Tahani Aburaneh eral, has been quite different here in Canada compared with her female counterparts in Jordan. “Many things that Canadian women take for granted, like living independently, driving their own car, running their own business and travelling the world, are not possible for most women in Jordan,” she admits. She knows she is lucky to not just live and work here but to thrive, and her goal now is to motivate other women to do the same. “I was meant to be in Canada living in this land and doing what I’m doing here,” says Tahani, with a big smile. Her nieces want to be “just like Aunty.” As she leaves for her next appointment, wearing her western style clothes, manicured nails and beautifully coiffed hair, it is evident that she is paving the way for a younger generation of women to follow in her footsteps.

Winter 2011 Powerful Women 15

Issues affecting newcomer women

Lin Buxton Business Professional Women (BPW)

Newcomer women represent 12 percent of Waterloo Region residents (2006 Census). The total newcomer population is expected to be 30 percent by 20311. Women, after being uprooted, need to adapt plus face the stress of dealing with leaving fa mily and loved ones behind. As a welcoming community, we can ease the transition. The following are only some of the issues challenging newcomer women.

Stereotyping and Racism Newcomers contribute to our economy and society by working hard, paying taxes, volunteering and raising families, but stereotypes and prejudice hinder their potential for success. Statements such as “They are here to do the dirty work that Canadians don’t want to do” hamper newcomers and limit their contribution to society. Fact: newcomers are often forced to take jobs

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they are overqualified for due to inadequate systems in place to recognize credentials and experience.

Pay Equity Newcomer women, regardless of education, earn less than Canadian women, and Canadian women, on average, earn less than 80% of their male counterparts.

Violence Global trafficking of women by abduction, fraud, deception and violence results in immigration, both legal and illegal, robbing them of their fundamental rights. Alternatively, some women are so desperate to leave conditions such as poverty, political persecution or war, that they immigrate as mail-order brides or domestic live-in caregivers. Women in both situations are especially vulnerable to abuse and violence.

Language Language barriers can restrict access in critical areas like employment, housing, healthcare and training. Newcomer women are less likely than men to have official language knowledge, increasing vulnerability during settlement. Health Risks Language and cultural barriers can prevent some women from accessing health services. Some suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to experiencing war, rape, torture and other traumas. Emotional and mental health risks are a very real concern.

Culture Shock Adapting to a new culture is stressful. Different cultures and belief systems can be intimidating for women trying to maintain their own customs that are different from their new community. What you can do: • Confront racist stereotypes. Educate

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by Dr. Erika Holenski, ND, KW Health Connection

Erika’s go-to maple syrup dressing

What is more Canadian than maple syrup? Many try to re-create it, but it just isn’t the sa me. Who knew this watery tree sap could be so versatile? It can be used as an alternative to sugar in coffee or tea or in any baking recipe. It can be added to any protein dish, like baked beans.


eing a natural product, it does have some nutritional benefit. Maple syrup has roughly the same calorie count as white sugar at 50 calories per tablespoon. It contains significant amounts of potassium (35 mg/tbsp) and calcium (21 mg/ tbsp). It has small amounts of iron, phosphorus, and B-vitamins. I use this recipe as a salad dressing, stir fry sauce, rub on fish or chicken. You can adjust the amount of oil and tahini to suit your need. For instance, when making a salad dressing, you may wish to have a

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thinner consistency by adding more olive oil. Conversely, for a rub you may add more tahini. It adds a bit of weight to lighter dishes and also provides a nutty sweet flavour. Maple Syrup Dressing ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed butter) 2 tbsp of maple syrup ¼ cup olive oil 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce 1 tsp cayenne pepper for a little kick. Mix all ingredients together and enjoy.

Increase your energy Balance your hormones Live pain free Winter 2011 Powerful Women 17

Worlds apart By Elaine Elias, Nature’s Nurtures

Two people, in two different countries, are practitioners of the sa me profession - Registered Massage Therapy (RMT). Paula Romanovsky, originally from Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, a city specializing in spas, mineral springs and health resorts and her counterpart, Milan Cerny from Teplice nad Becvou, also in Czech Republic who owns a private health clinic - Navratjara (The Return of Spring), have each arrived at their vocations by different routes. Paula left her country for Canada and Milan stayed home.


zech Republic (C.R.) was communistic when Paula, at 22, emigrated, entering Toronto to marry husband, Vladimir. She said she brought “a few personal items, a family photo of my home overseas and a change of clothes.” Within five years, as a naturalized Canadian citizen, she had achieved certification in English as a Second Language and a Canadian high school diploma. Vlad and Paula raised two daughters as she worked in a Toronto Czech-based community, later on adding to her resume, Aesthetician, nail technician and masseuse on hands and feet. Reflecting on those years, she commented on the difficulty of learning a really different language, her native being Slavic, while integrating personally and professionally into Western society. “I found learning English very hard and find I’m still doing that after a quarter-century in Canada.” Milan, however, did not emigrate, travelling instead to Asia, Europe and the United States. He compared those cultures to his own. With wife, Jaroslava, they decided to remain with their Czech roots. Nurturing his lifelong love of natural medicine and treatment, he began as a hospital sanitation worker then gravitated to the development of medical appliances. As well, his sons — canoeists on the national Czech sports team

18 Powerful Women Winter 2011

— involved him in providing massage, nutritional counselling and general medical advice for the group, leading him to practice on his first client, Jaroslava. However, Milan continued to pay their rent working as a corporate crisis manager up until his forties when he was hit with a health crisis of his own. Milan knew he had to make a change and left the corporate environment taking courses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), massage therapy and acupuncture. He mentioned, “A serious health issue plus help from my guardian angels gave me a second chance.” The beginning of a new career in health and wellness was born. Each therapist was asked their thoughts on their profession and responded differently. In 2007 Paula had her Canadian RMT certificate, after completing a two-year course at the College of Hydro and Massage Therapy. She quite enjoyed the one year hands-on practice in the College’s student clinic and now is a qualified and experienced therapist working a 20-hour week in a Cambridge health clinic alongside other RMTs. Income is determined by the satisfaction of clients and level of service and from that she pays rent to the business owner. Milan, the entrepreneur, achieved licensing under the Czech Commercial Code

and Trade Act and topped it up with an extra 150 hours training in massage. Had he wanted, there was available an additional 3 to 5 year university course, specializing in physiotherapy and rehabilitation. He noted that in C.R. it’s not unusual, especially for female entrepreneurs to leave the country to establish a financial position, build work credentials and experience, then return, opening their own salon or to seek employment with an existing clinic. Milan knows that public or state run institutions analyze education, specialization and experience to scale a therapist’s pay level but that as a business owner, customers and skill determine income, as it is with Paula. Both say it’s a tough, competitive environment and view advancement differently. Paula dreams of perhaps opening her own clinic, hiring on therapists or ultimately acquiring land and erecting a health centre. She sees dieticians, personal trainers, therapists, spiritual leaders and a variety of staff employed at her institution. Currently, Milan has no expansion plans. Their thoughts differ on other issues as well. Paula explained that the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) is a governing body protecting workers’ rights from discrimination, abuse, employment practices including termination, working conditions, criminal use of a member’s skills and their professional registration. In C.R. the Labour Code likewise protects public health care workers, but for entrepreneurs, the Trade Office, the agency providing the licence to open a ‘stone workshop’ which is the business, requires an owner to follow the Business and Trade Code to protect privately hired employees. Each therapist chose their location based on client accessibility, visibility, marketing and placement in a larger city centre to include less noise and more green space. Milan believes that decision could allow an owner a greater range of services for treating sports injuries or a particular specialization, and he noted that women seem more attracted to those specialities than men. Both practitioners have limited their

massage time to a 20-hour week, the labour being physically demanding, but Milan has rounded out his enterprise by adding in teaching and travelling the country on lectures and demonstrations to create flexibility between work and home and a 40-hour income. Their work structures are an individual choice but commonalities arise: room setup/appearance, solid client communication, noting body language or customer silence and approaching problem solving step-bystep. Paula likes the techniques of reflexology, principles of cranial-sacral massage and using aromatherapy oils. Milan utilizes TCM on clients, Qi Gong, Gua Sha with tapping and honey massage, Reiki, acupuncture and teaches them meditation for

optimal energy and healing. Viewpoints on gender differences were often aligned. Paula says, men, with their greater physical strength could service more clients or perhaps approach a problem analytically, viewing the human body mechanically and end with different or detailed questions and a sharper diagnosis. Modest, some women may avoid male therapists, finding their physical pressure excessive or perceive that as painful and not nurturing. Milan said either gender of therapist must be equally qualified but due to relatively lower earnings and an easily accessible education in the profession, females tend to enter a practice whereas men will seek university education for the stressful corporate Continued on next page Winter 2011 Powerful Women 19

Continued from previous page

world. Both were firm that a practitioner’s success will depend on their knowledge, skills, and ambition, outstripping any gender differences. On professional opportunities, Paula feels she gained by coming to Canada as it’s able to provide lots of clients, our population being more than triple that of C.R., plus with access to health insurance, help becomes affordable when needed. With more graduates and training facilities, therapists have a choice to pursue intensive or multiple types of practice. Standardization in Canada is essential, from a practitioner’s education to acquired knowledge and business establishment, and operates under less bureaucracy. An obstacle to Paula’s journey was the fifteen thousand dollars for tuition to cover her two-year course which they scrubbed up while she and Vlad raised their daughters to adulthood and concurrently honing her English through personal experience or formal education. This included learning medical terminology for human anatomy, symptoms, diseases, pathologies, neurologies and physical conditions. Later was the inevitable job hunt and narrowing career choices between specialties in sports massage/rehabilitation, professional spa or health clinic where she is now, recreational masseuse on a cruise ship, institutional public employee or even in animal therapy. Had she not embarked on the time, money and effort to become a licensed therapist, Paula would have no choice but to work in a recreational spa, unqualified. Milan’s hindrances arose as he set up his private clinic. After raising investment money, he had to acquire the appropriate business licences and permits that include a strict hygienic code, to determine and equip his choice of location and then market the enterprise to attract and keep new clients. His first year was the hardest and was built on a standard massage package with price tweaking. But he quickly learned that specializing in conditions like pain management and chronic injury differentiated him 20 Powerful Women Winter 2011

from the pack. Offering TCM and a range of other solutions brought in a large influx of a mainly female clientele, even the shy ones. Milan reflected, “To be honest, I think I had great luck and my guardian angels helped a lot.” Good news spread fast; his practice enlarged and established itself in his clients’ lives. “It was important to me to remain sober-minded, humble and patient and not play the role of a big healer.” Paula and Milan commented on the dominancy of females who open practices at the rate of 2 to 1, but Paula believes males are catching up. Most businesses cater to relaxation massage thereby attracting women on the whole, but as both therapists work in the health field, they also treat a component of men. Now a practitioner for fifteen years, in 2007 Milan bought his wife’s Navratjara business established in 2005 and at the time, ladies comprised 70% of the business with men later levelling that out by requesting his special treatments. He thinks women like relaxing with a short massage to forget everyday problems and, being proactive, are taking responsibility for themselves and their health, and thereby look and feel better. Men may seek help if prodded, but they always requested a female masseuse. Now he sees this trend as more evenly split. Selecting between options of Traditional Chinese Massage, dietary advice based on TCM principles, hot stone massage, Breuss massage, Dorn therapy/exercises, honey massage, detox and reflexology, he is happy to see men now asking for such care. A new element, psycho-astrology, based on the principle that physical or emotional problems diminish when a blocked psyche is remedied, is more attractive to women it seems. Paula knows the sense behind keeping up good health and suggests some simple solutions that don’t require a professional. She advises, “Take charge of your own health, seek what you need and for the most part, watch what you eat.” With each day, it’s necessary to “take a deep breath and enjoy every moment of your life.” After all, that’s what really counts toward a healthy and long life.

Travelling with peace of mind Did you know, even if you leave the province of Ontario for a couple of hours, OHIP does not cover your expenses if you become ill or injured? Even just a few miles out at sea, a cruise ship is actually in international territory. Also, Group Benefit Travel Insurance does not provide trip cancellation, trip interruption or lost luggage coverage.


any people consider insurance in order to protect themselves against the unexpected. Having insurance gives them peace of mind if they are concerned over losing out financially. Travel insurance is just like personal insurance. Insure what you cannot afford to lose. Do not leave home without knowing your travel coverage. Make sure that you do your homework to determine the right travel coverage for yourself. Do you need trip cancellation in case you need to cancel your trip due to illness? Do you need trip interruption protection or coverage if your luggage gets lost? Travel insurance can not only cover emergency medical situations but can also cover terrorist incidents, hurricane interruptions, and if your passport is stolen. An unexpected illness or accident can be costly if you leave the province without having coverage. Also, as we mature, an unexpected medical emergency situation may be more likely to occur. I recently had a client who purchased travel insurance, and although it seemed pricey at the time, the investment more than paid off for her. The $1,400 travel insurance protection plan brought her back home to Ontario/Canada free, after being diagnosed with cancer outside of the country. Without the travel protection, she would have had to pay the $20,000 bill out of her own pocket.

Valerie Meyer Sickness Benefits and Finance

I have also seen an incident where a simple fall down steps can land a person in hospital, and with some hospitals charging over $5,000/day, it is definitely an expense most of us would not want to have. That type of expense could take away all of our life and/ or retirement savings and leave us with a huge debt. Travel insurance is also available to visitors to Canada, since they cannot be protected with our Ontario medical insurance. A new landed individual should also consider emergency medical insurance. For the same reasons, an Ontario hospital could charge any price they want if there is no medical insurance in place. A stay at our local hospital is $2,500/day. Travel insurance can be purchased on a ‘per trip’ or an annual basis, whichever suits your needs. Explore the options of travel insurance, but ensure that you are protected.


VALERIE MEYER 519-888-8361 Winter 2011 Powerful Women 21

Selling products in the global market Julie Austin, Creative Innovation


hen I first started my business, I never thought about selling internationally. It was overwhelming enough just selling my product in my own neighbourhood. But now, 90% of my business is international. Being in the U.S., I always thought I’d manufacture my product in the U.S. But after trying it once and barely breaking even, I realized I would have to move my manufacturing to China, like so many others. Dealing with China has its own challenges, not least, the language barrier. This is why it’s a good idea to have someone there who can act as a middleman. Pay them a percentage. It’s worth it. This person has a better understanding of the local culture and can help iron out any problems that arise. They will also be in a better position to negotiate prices for you. I’ve found that there is a different sense of urgency there, so you want to

Judith Harrison

Coach for Vibrant Living cell 519-221-1212

make sure you allow plenty of time to get your merchandise. Don’t cut things too close. They seem to have a lot of holidays, some of which last weeks. So plan accordingly. Factor in all extra expenses and adjust your prices so you don’t get shortchanged. Make sure everything is discussed beforehand. When quoting your customers’ prices, take everything into account, like the taxes and duties they will have to pay once it gets to them. I always get 50% up front and 50% before the product leaves the port. Collecting money from a foreign country is a nightmarish and legal hassle. Make sure it’s all in your bank account before inventory leaves the port. I’ve found the easiest way to sell internationally is through distributors. They buy in volume and basically run their own business. I just help them with marketing and publicity. They hire their own employees and do their own advertising. A good way to get the word out about your product is by getting listed in online wholesale directories. There is also plenty of international PR that you can do to call attention to your brand.

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Let people know you’re out there It seems that you can get almost anything on the Internet these days. If you have your own business, you have to be able to offer your product/service online, or at the very least, information regarding your location. All this can be done through your business website.


f it hasn’t been done already, make sure your site is designed by a professional design house, agency, or any graphic designer who can take the final design to the web. Tech people, who know how to build the back end of a website, can put together a site as well, but design is a skill worth paying for. Good design captivates, is easy to navigate, and pleasing to the eye. In a lot of cases, this is your customer’s first impression of your company/product. Make sure it reflects the look and feel of your brand. The next idea we all love to believe is: if I build it, they will come. Unfortunately, this is not a “Field of Dreams,” and some 97 percent of websites on the net are hardly viewed by anyone. Now, if it’s up and accessible, you’ve got to figure out how to drive people to it. That’s called “getting traffic.” The first plan of

Shara Ross Rosslyn Media

attack is to get up high on a well known search engine such as Google. Make sure whoever built your site also has the capabilities to optimize it. There are factors Google looks for when it sends its spiders to your website, like meta tags, key words, description words, etc. The criteria is always changing. Someone who knows the Internet is aware of all the do’s and don’ts on web optimization and that’s who you need in your corner. The other unforgettable strategy is old-fashioned advertising. Pick the magazines your clients read, or local newspapers, or advertise on social media sites like Facebook, etc. This is the most effective way still to get your business, site, and product noticed. It’s a new frontier, but the old rules still apply, you’ve got to let people know you’re out there.

Winter 2011 Powerful Women 23

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Powerful Women Magazine Winter 2011  

In the 2011Winter issue of Powerful Women Magazine, you can read about international women, their challenges and accomplishments. Find tips...