March 30, 2022

Women in Leadership: Developing your potential

CCAL recently hosted a high impact panel discussion featuring Jarislowsky Co-Fellows Heather Culbert, Patrick Lor and the 2022 CIWB Honourees.
Women in Leadership: Developing your potential

The Jarislowsky Fellowship in Business Management Program held its first webinar of the new semester on March 4, 2022, led by co-fellows Heather Culbert and Patrick Lor. It featured six special guests, all winners of the 2022 Calgary’s Influential Women in Business Awards. Every one of them has been highly successful in business and has shown tremendous dedication to assisting women in their professional careers and their own community initiatives. That being said, the virtual room was filled with Haskayne MBA and EMBA students excited to participate, ask questions and, in all, develop their understanding of what leadership can look like.

Heather began by recognizing the five talented business women in our city (Dawn Farrell, Jana Mosley, Eleanor Chiu, Cheryl Sandercock, and Kim Ruse) and recognizing the male champion (dean Jim Dewald) who supports and advocates for women’s success in business. Ultimately, the webinar’s objective was to raise the profile for women and help inspire younger professionals with the “if you can see it, you can be it” motto.  The program kicked off with panel member describing their own leadership journey in the unique environments of their industry, sharing their personal advice for the students along the way.

The first guest, Dawn Farrell, is an Independent Director and Chancellor at Mount Royal University. She discussed her journey as an economist at TransAlta and her focus on carbon policy to achieve low-cost emissions and reliable solutions. Her hard work and dedication were accredited to her always saying yes, which allowed her to prosper as CEO. Dawn truly highlighted how it’s possible for anyone to be a leader with open-mindedness and hard work.

The second guest, Jana Mosley, the President of ENMAX Power, attributed her success to four things. Firstly, to always say yes, regardless of how scary an opportunity may seem. Next, to create a reputation for yourself and be known as the person that gets it done, that is, to own it and deliver it. Jana also advised partnering well and strategically, in other words, to look for those people that you can partner with within your company and create those valuable relationships between men and women. Finally, elevate those around you and give back to the community.

Jana was followed by Eleanor Chiu, the Chief Financial Officer for The Trico Group/Trico Homes. Eleanor found working beside her husband to be an exciting and challenging experience. She learned to be successful as CFO by focusing on open communication and compromise with her partner to reach optimum solutions that would optimize both of their wants and needs as a whole. She placed a significant emphasis on human capital, giving back to the community and providing opportunities for women and new immigrants making a career in Canada for themselves. Eleanor also highlighted the power of self-reflection and to continue developing your learning in order to remain relevant with our day and age.   

The fourth guest was Kim Ruse, CEO of The Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. She set out to become an expert in the nonprofit sector, something she likes to call the “social impact sector.” At an early stage of her life, she noticed the discrepancy in male to female graduates in her field. In turn, Kim made it her mission to change the ratio by specializing in measuring impact and implementing a business framework to the social services sector. Her best piece of advice as a leader was to be courageous and to always be willing to try new things.

Managing Director and Co-Head Energy A&D Advisory at BMO Capital Markets, Cheryl Sandercock, shared similar thoughts to Kim. Aside from her work in the energy field and investment banking, she shared other passions such as alpine ski racing and spent part of her earlier years in sport. Cheryl placed a strong emphasis on moving away from having a victim mentality, as doing so enables women to step up to be in the leadership positions that they desire. She further highlighted the importance of being a connector when developing your networking skills.

Jim Dewald had a few things to say as well. He proudly shared his support for women in leadership positions and highlighted his belief in a 50/50 ratio, evident in his Leadership Committee and Management Advisory Council. Jim also noticed a clear disadvantage throughout his career that carries on today. For this reason, he is committed to doing a lot more work to alleviate the systematic problem at hand and to push for gender diversity.

The virtual panel included a short question and answer forum which allowed the guest speakers to emphasize the importance of self-confidence, authenticity, and personalized relationships. The two Jarislowsky fellows were then able to sum up the webinar with a final strong message: to create changes to the deeply rooted systematic problem, we all must desire better outcomes, and to have the courage to hold these challenging conversations more frequently.

The students found the discussion incredibly engaging, with many diverse opinions and points made. The open dialogue and honest advice from the leaders resonated with our students in a way that acted as a catalyst for further introspection.

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