Women of Influence http://www.womenofinfluence.ca Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:47:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.4 Get ready for the office of the future http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/12/05/get-ready-for-the-office-of-the-future/ Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:03:45 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=164455

An aging workforce, the explosion of new mobile devices and cloud-based applications, availability of ubiquitous and inexpensive Internet access, and the changing nature of work are rapidly transforming the workplace. Is your business ready?

Change is closer than you think: over the next ten years, a few key trends will rapidly transform the workplace, reshaping how companies are organized, how they operate, and how they attract and retain talent.

The first driver is demographics. The oldest of the baby boomer generation — those individuals born between 1946 and 1964 — reached retirement age in 2011. And in North America alone, a staggering 10,000 baby boomers will reach retirement age each day for the next two decades. This exodus will lead to a dramatic shift in the demographic of the workforce, which will become much more diverse — ethnically, culturally and, most importantly, generationally.

The nature of work is also changing. Over the past 20 years, companies have automated and outsourced much of their structured or process-oriented work. What work is left is unstructured, complex, and highly collaborative. Combine that with continued technical innovation — an explosion of mobile devices, coupled with the widespread availability of ubiquitous Internet access and cloud-based applications — that has redefined where and how work is being performed.

Although the fallout from these trends may seem overwhelming, the fact that they are occurring simultaneously creates a unique opportunity. With planning and investment, adapting your workplace to meet the technological demands of the future can enable your business to thrive. So what does the office of the future look like?

A broader demographic means more technical solutions, working together. Organizations will need to provide a greater variety of tools and devices to meet generational preferences, but will also need to ensure that there is functional parity, interoperability, and a consistent user experience in the services they offer.

The rise of unstructured, complex, and highly collaborative work means an end to one-size-fits-all workplace design. Organizations need to allow for the different workspace experiences that are necessary to accommodate both collaboration and concentration work functions. Without addressing these issues productivity and innovation will suffer, also resulting in employee dissatisfaction and leading to increases in employee turnover.

Technical innovation has created the expectation of being “always connected.” Securing sensitive data is a top priority, but mobile security will take an even more important role as both company-owned and employee-owned mobile devices continue to grow in the workplace.

Leaders will need to effectively marry workspace design, technology, and workplace policy, creating a workplace that is flexible, adaptable, and engaging. This journey will not be easy, there are plenty of organizational, technical, and cultural hurdles, but those who are successful will propel their companies into a new era of efficiency, innovation, and profitability.


Is your company ready for a connected workplace? Sign up for the Cisco Women Entrepreneurs’ Academy, with over 90 hours of free training on the technology basics that can help you understand the opportunities available to you and your business. Simply fill in this quick survey for access.

5 Things You Should Know About the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/12/02/5-things-you-should-know-about-the-honourable-jody-wilson-raybould/ Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:10:07 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=164582 The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould became Canada’s Minister of Justice in 2015, joining 14 other women to form Canada’s first gender-equal Cabinet. But did you also know she’s also a lawyer, advocate, and leader among British Columbia’s First Nations?  Here are 5 things you should know about the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould.




1. She’s the first Indigenous person to be sworn in as Minister of Justice of Canada

Wilson-Raybould is a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples, which are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw and also known as the Kwak’wala speaking people of British Columbia. She is also a member of the We Wai Kai Nation. On November 4, 2015 she made history as Canada’s first Indigenous Minister of Justice, and is only the 3rd woman to ever hold the title (following Kim Campbell and Anne McLellan).


2. She’s a vocal advocate for transgender rights

On May 17, 2016, Wilson-Raybould introduced Bill C-16, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, which addresses the discrimination and hate crimes experienced by trans and gender-diverse Canadians. These amendments include protection against employment discrimination, and adding “gender identity or expression” to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.



3. She was a provincial Crown prosecutor 

Wilson-Raybould served in Vancouver’s Main Street criminal courthouse in the Downtown Eastside from 2000-2003. As a Commissioner elected by the chiefs of the First Nations Summit, she helped to advance a number of treaty tables, including Tsawwassen First Nation, which became the first in B.C. to achieve a treaty under the BC Treaty Process.


4. She’s been vying for a career in politics since childhood

In 1983, Wilson-Raybould’s father Bill Wilson, a First Nations politician, informed Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau on national Canadian television that one day, his two daughters hoped to become lawyers and then Prime Minister themselves. As it turns out, Wilson-Raybould’s childhood dreams are coming closer to reality than she may have expected.


5. She’ll be featured on our Luncheon finale panel

Are you interested in how the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould feels about the status of women in Canadian politics? What about her thoughts on important national topics like Aboriginal affairs and democratic reform? Join us on December 9th as we get to the heart of what matters most to Canadians — and Canadian women specifically — at our season finale Luncheon, State of Our Nation: Let’s Talk About Women in Politics.


Want to join the conversation? Purchase your ticket here.


Want to have it all? Put a hand up for yourself, and a hand out for others http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/12/01/want-to-have-it-all-put-a-hand-up-for-yourself-and-a-hand-out-for-others/ Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:01:07 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=164543 donna-venable-post“Procuring and teaching the right people to work together to get things done enables great things to happen”

By Liz Bruckner

When Donna Venable speaks about helping others, it’s clear it’s an important part of who she is. “I believe that giving back is a responsibility we all have. My parents instilled this perspective in me as a child, and my husband and I worked to do the same with our children.”

It’s no surprise then that Donna has achieved huge success in the field of human resource management. Serving as Executive Vice President, Human Resources for Ricoh in the Americas since 2008, she oversees approximately 31,000+ employees across Canada, the U.S. and South America, has amassed almost 25 years of management experience in her industry, and has set many impressive standards as a champion of women’s business initiatives and inclusion throughout her career.

A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, Donna’s foray into management came through a nationwide retail and property management brand. After joining the company during a time of marked growth, she says it quickly became apparent that a shortage of talent was undoing the brand’s success. “There were numerous opportunities for growth, but we were at a loss because the talent needed to achieve our business goals was lacking.”

It was realizing the necessity to recruit and train the right people that caused Donna to branch into human resources, and ultimately set her burgeoning career in motion. “Having studied political science with a focus on business, what was compelling to me about this sector of business was seeing first-hand the importance of selecting a great team. Procuring and teaching the right people to work together to get things done enables great things to happen,” she says.

Of course, her job-related triumphs haven’t come without struggles. “Having organically merged into a facet of business without a solid knowledge base, I’ve made it vital over the years to earn after-hours certifications and take courses to build on my understanding of the human resources function, and to positively impact the level of talent being procured.”

“Ultimately, there are so many opportunities that come our way that taking the time to help others is vital, professionally and personally.”

Dealing with gender-related stigmas was another obstacle she encountered. “Earlier on in my career, it became apparent that, because of my gender, bringing my skills to the table had the potential to be difficult. That said, I never let it stop me, and my experiences—good and bad—have been integral to my drive to propel talented women forward.”

Donna is now passionate about championing women’s initiatives within Ricoh worldwide. “This is going back a number of years, but I vividly recall attending a luncheon held by a successful female executive. She hosted it to discuss how women can bring value to their jobs, and how management can support and propel them forward.” During the chat, Donna recalls the executive talking about how men will strongly pursue a job that they may not have all the qualifications for, while women tend to wait “until they feel they’re ready, until they have all the qualifications. It’s this self-imposed difference that prevents many women from stepping forward and letting their talent shine.”

The result of this discussion, Donna says, was her becoming keenly aware of the need for women to think differently, to be confident, and to recognize and grow their talent. And she’s dedicated to helping them on that path. Working for a company that enables and supports these efforts is something she’s very grateful for—it’s her personal definition of having it all.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredibly strong leaders that happen to be women, and I’m thrilled and proud that the Ricoh brand is so willing to encourage women into these roles,” she says. “Ultimately, there are so many opportunities that come our way that taking the time to help others is vital, professionally and personally, and being a part of a brand dedicated to creating a corporate social responsibility has been incredibly rewarding.”


We’ve partnered with Ricoh in engaging our community in important discussions about the advancement of women, focusing on “having it all.” How you define it, what factors enable you to achieve it, and how you have worked differently to meet your goals. Ricoh is a global technology company specializing in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services.

Put your hand up, take a leap: career advice from Suzanne Morel, Chief of Staff to the CEO, Mastercard http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/11/30/put-your-hand-up-take-a-leap-career-advice-from-suzanne-morel-chief-of-staff-to-the-ceo-mastercard/ Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:30:02 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=164390 Suzanne MorelFrom Parliament Hill to New York City, Suzanne Morel has a multifaceted career that has made her an advocate for women putting their hands up, jumping at every learning opportunity, and never underestimating the power of a good team.

By Hailey Eisen

Suzanne Morel’s career has taken her on a unique journey from her very first job as Chief of Staff to an MP on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, to her current role as Chief of Staff to the CEO of Mastercard in New York. Along the way she earned a Master’s degree and an MBA, negotiated everything from regulatory outcomes to free trade agreements in both the public and private sectors, and spent time living and studying in China.   

Given the scope of her experience and her commitment to mentoring young professionals, she’s often asked what’s the one piece of advice she’d give women in pursuit of success. “Put your hand up!” she says. “As women, we tend to hesitate and question ourselves as to whether or not we’re capable. But all the experiences I’ve had have come from taking leaps of faith and not knowing what the outcome was going to be. And it’s been incredibly rewarding.”

The confidence to leap is a theme that’s surfaced throughout Suzanne’s career. One of her first significant leaps was working full-time for former Liberal MP Paddy Torsney while completing her graduate studies as a full-time student. During the final few months of that period, she was living out of a suitcase in the riding of Burlington while working on the MP’s re-election campaign,  and spending nights writing the thesis that she was committed to completing within the standard two-year period. “That ended with satisfaction on both sides,” Suzanne recalls. “Paddy was re-elected and I finished my thesis.”

The next leap was to leave politics for public service, taking a role with the then Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as a Senior Trade Policy Analyst. After six tremendous years in this role, she was ready to leap again. “People don’t typically step away from public service jobs at the level I was at,” Suzanne says.

But despite the many naysayers who expressed their doubts about her decision, Suzanne felt the time was right to enrol in an MBA program. “One of my champions, the former Deputy Minister of Trade, really supported my decision. She said to me, ‘I wish more people would step away, as you’re going to do, and gain experience in the private sector’.”

“As women, we tend to hesitate and question ourselves as to whether or not we’re capable. But all the experiences I’ve had have come from taking leaps of faith and not knowing what the outcome was going to be. And it’s been incredibly rewarding.”

Choosing the right MBA required foresight. Suzanne knew she would benefit from a program that took a team-centred approach. “I already knew my own strengths and I had been developing these, but I wanted the benefit of working with people who had strengths that I didn’t have, who were coming [to the program] with different backgrounds and experiences,” she says. “I knew how powerful it could be for a team to come together and perform at such a high level.”

She also wanted an opportunity to do part of her year-long MBA abroad. “I had come from an international role and had been doing a lot of travel, and I wanted to spend a significant amount of time abroad. I loved the fact that the Smith MBA offered that.”

When she enrolled in the MBA program at Queen’s University and moved to Kingston she was ready to spend a year focusing one-hundred percent on school. Working closely with a diverse group of students, with whom she still keeps in close contact, was an invaluable experience. “The team approach enables you to learn not only how to led but how to be lead — you challenge one another, support one another, and learn to harness your individual strengths for success.”

For the last four months of her MBA, Suzanne completed her studies at Peking University in China. “I had the benefit of working with these incredible professors and gaining all these insights in a market that is one of the world’s largest economic forces, one that’s rich in culture and history,” she says. “I’ve been to China many times in my current role with Mastercard and I still draw on those experiences today.”

“The team approach enables you to learn not only how to led but how to be lead — you challenge one another, support one another, and learn to harness your individual strengths for success.”

Following her MBA, a number of opportunities opened up for Suzanne, first a role with the CPP Investment Board as Director, Government Relations — joining during the financial crisis in 2008 — and then Vice President, Public Policy with Mastercard. In her current role as Chief of Staff to the CEO she says she’s challenged daily. “I draw upon our resources throughout the company and collaborate with colleagues around the world in order to drive results. From this vantage point, I can see across the organization and use this privileged spot to make things happen.” Suzanne frequently travels with the CEO and uses the time between meetings to connect with colleagues and customers, gaining insights to better inform decisions from the centre.

“There’s no doubt that there are challenges for women to get ahead and get noticed — no matter what type of role you’re in — but it requires thinking creatively about how you differentiate yourself,” she says. “That’s why I challenged myself academically, pursing three degrees, and have always sought rich professional experiences — because it’s more difficult to dismiss someone who has the credentials and experience.”

8 Important Quotes from Canadian Women in Politics http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/11/29/8-important-quotes-from-women-in-politics/ Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:36:52 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=164364

On December 9th, we will welcome three of Canada’s female cabinet ministers to our Luncheon stage for State of Our Nation: Let’s Talk About Women in Politics. But first, we look back to some of Canada’s formative female political leaders and activists for the wisdom they shared then, and which still applies today.   





“We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through.”

Rosemary Brown, politician, activist, and Canada’s first black female member of a provincial legislature



“Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily this is not difficult.”

Charlotte Whitton, first female mayor of Ottawa



“I do not want to be the angel of any home; I want for myself what I want for other women, absolute equality. After that is secured, then men and women can take turns at being angels.”

Agnes Macphail, first woman member of Parliament in Canada



“Never retreat, never explain, never apologize – get the thing done and let them howl!”

Nellie McClung, Canadian activist and author



“People ask me, ‘Are you proud of the fact that you were Canada’s first woman prime minister?’ I respond, ‘Yes, but I’d be prouder still to say I was Canada’s tenth woman prime minister.’”

Kim Campbell, Canada’s first and only female Prime Minister




“The purpose of a woman’s life is just the same as the purpose of a man’s life: that she may make the best possible contribution to the generation in which she is living.”

Louise McKinney, provincial politician and women’s rights activist, first woman sworn into the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and the first woman elected to a legislature in Canada



“If politics mean…the effort to secure through legislative action better conditions of life for the people, greater opportunities for our children and other people’s children…then it most assuredly is a woman’s job as much as it is a man’s job.”

Irene Parlbly, women’s farm leader, activist and politician



“I believe that never was a country better adapted to produce a great race of women than this Canada of ours, nor a race of women better adapted to make a great country.”

Emily Murphy, women’s rights activist, jurist, and author


Interested in joining the conversation? Purchase your ticket here.


Distilling the Corby Culture: Meet Amandine Robin http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/11/27/distilling-the-corby-culture-meet-amandine-robin/ Mon, 28 Nov 2016 02:26:11 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=164100 Amandine RobinNamed “Top 30 Under 30” by PR in Canada, Amandine Robin is making her mark at Pernod Ricard, the worldwide co-leader in the Wines & Spirits sector with brands such as Absolut, Jameson, Chivas, and J.P. Wiser’s. In the span of just a few years, she’s rocketed to the top of the corporate ladder, recently promoted to Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Pernod Ricard USA. She shares some of the innovative ideas that have led to career success at Corby Spirit and Wine, the Canadian affiliate of Pernod Ricard.

For Amandine Robin, wine has always been in her blood.

“I was born and raised in Reims in the Champagne region,” says Robin. “So I was living five minutes away from the G.H. Mumm Champagne — one of Pernod Ricard’s brands.”

But despite growing up near France’s vineyards, Robin fell into in the wine and spirits industry. She actually worked in the financial and legal sectors for several years, before stumbling upon a Corby’s job advert for a Communications Manager.

“For me, it was the dream job,” she says. “To be working in communications and with a company [linked] to a region where I was raised in and loved.”

She applied and won the position. Since joining the Pernod Ricard family, Robin has distilled a culture of innovation into the company, and transformed how the company communicates. It has led to a big boost in employee engagement and corporate brand awareness, multiple award wins, and personal promotions — most recently to Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Pernod Ricard USA, the group’s biggest affiliate.

“For me, it was the dream job….To be working in communications and with a company [linked] to a region where I was raised in and loved.”

“We imagine corporate communication as writing speeches for executives or writing press releases,” she says. “That’s not at all how I see it. It’s about being completely transparent, working together, and creating excitement inside and outside the company.”

Robin credits the success to an executive team that’s “open to trying things differently” and values collaboration. While novelty may scare some companies, Corby welcomed her fresh ideas and experimentation with new approaches, especially in tough financial times. With this “carte blanche” in hand, Robin has spearheaded some cutting-edge initiatives that are now reaping major rewards for the company.

“Our tagline globally is ‘creators of conviviality,’” says Robin. “That’s one aspect that I really love about the company: the emphasis on the people and the conviviality. It’s about ‘what do we give to the world?’”

One such initiative is Corby’s Den, a corporate challenge based on CBC’s Dragons’ Den TV series that sees top management travel across the country to hear employees present their best and most innovative business ideas.

“That’s one aspect that I really love about the company: the emphasis on the people and the conviviality. It’s about ‘what do we give to the world?’”

“Employees were put in teams and had 10 minutes to pitch an idea to our dragons,” she says. “The size of the idea didn’t matter — it could be something small that doesn’t cost anything or a big national idea to change the system.”

At the end, the “dragons” selected a handful of winning ideas to implement across the company. What was most surprising? Participants loved the “Corby’s Den” experience, even more than the company conferences held overseas.

“They liked the chance to see the executive team in a smaller format and share their ideas,” says Robin. “It was great from a business point of view, and the executive team discovered talents that they might not see from Head Office.”

Robin also launched “I Thank,” a corporate program to boost the company’s non-financial employee recognition. Based on gamification principles, employees can virtually award each other achievement badges with a personal congratulatory note, which are visible online to the entire company. Employees move up the levels of recognition as they accumulate badges, with those reaching gold receiving an extra week of vacation and $1000 donation to a charity of their choice.

“It’s a created a culture of recognition,” says Robin. “Within one year, the ratings of non-financial recognition increased by 25 per cent. And the program cost zero dollars!”

Under Robin’s leadership, Corby is also winning awards for corporate social responsibility, such as a Road Safety Achievement Award from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for the Corby Safe Rides program. This annual partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission promotes responsible drinking and provides free public transit on New Year’s Eve — ensuring that everyone has a safe ride home.

“Being a socially responsible company drives employee engagement,” says Robin. “We’re the department distilling the culture — both inside and outside the company.”

As for Robin, she’s eager to keep up the momentum in her new role and continue “making a difference” inside and outside of the company.

“What I’m the most proud of is changing how we do corporate communication,” says Robin. “The pride of our employee engagement and being excited to come to work every day. That’s what I find rewarding.”

How one man and thousands of fish are helping improve women’s health worldwide http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/11/24/how-one-man-and-thousands-of-fish-are-helping-improve-womens-health-worldwide/ Thu, 24 Nov 2016 14:32:58 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=163906 Gavin ArmstrongSolving one of the world’s most common women’s health problems may be as simple as dropping a fish in water. Gavin Armstrong, Founder, President and CEO of Lucky Iron Fish, tells us how.

By Teresa Harris

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common micro-nutrient issue, and has a disproportionate negative impact on women and children. Instances are increasing, as the traditional method of combating iron deficiency via pill supplements is expensive, inaccessible to many, and simply not very effective. In short, worldwide we’re spending more on a problem that’s just getting worse.

Introducing Lucky Iron Fish, a sustainable solution to iron deficiency in the form of a simple cooking tool. When added to a cooking pot and boiled for ten minutes, the small, fish-shaped piece of iron can fortify your food with enough iron to noticeably alleviate symptoms of extreme iron deficiency.


The founder of Lucky Iron Fish is Gavin Armstrong, a University of Guelph graduate who has dedicated his career to the improving the health of individuals — primarily women and children — around the world.

Gavin realized an imminent need for a focus on micro-nutrient deficiency related health problems following a volunteer trip to a refugee camp in Northern Kenya, where he witnessed communities in dire need of proper nutrition.

“There is a ‘hidden hunger’ that often goes unrecognized, as the supplies food banks have to give usually don’t address micro-nutrient deficiencies. Thus we’re failing to address the questions of: What is the long term impact of a diet consisting solely on non-nutritious food, like beans and rice? And how does it affect these people’s development?”

Signs of iron deficiency range from dizziness to fatigue, and can even cause hemorrhaging and spells. Pregnant mothers are particularly vulnerable, as nearly every pregnant woman suffers from iron deficiency during and post pregnancy, and if untreated, their unborn child is at risk of its own associated health issues, including limited cognitive development.

“We’re failing to address the questions of: What is the long term impact of a diet consisting solely on non-nutritious food, like beans and rice? And how does it affect these people’s development?”

“When a mother is iron deficient, she can be so ill that she may miss work.” Gavin explains. Mothers in Cambodia lose approximately two weeks of work due to iron-deficiency related sickness. “When you consider their already meager income — about 70-80 cents per day — that’s a substantial loss.”

Upon returning to Canada, Gavin decided to set out on solving this issue.

Gavin Armstrong in IndiaWith an undergraduate degree in commerce, a masters in rural planning and development, and a PhD in biomedical science, Gavin is the first to admit that his academic path has been what many would call “non-traditional.” But he appreciates that this unique path brought him to exactly where he needed to be, allowing him to recognize that in order for his solution to micro-nutrient deficiency to be successful, it needed to be sustainable.

The primary recipients of donated fish are nonprofits and clinics and organizations that are focused on women’s health and nutrition. These include food banks, First Nations organizations here in Canada, as well as nonprofit organizations in Cambodia and India, which allows Lucky Iron Fish to distribute as many fish as possible to the pots of families in need.

Yet, Gavin admits he’s made his share of mistakes. “I won’t say I’m infallible,” he concedes, having learned through trial and error that cultural differences play a huge role in how readily accepted new innovations will be. “I think that abroad, dispelling taboos and myths was our biggest challenge. ‘Deficiency’ is not a term that’s understood, so instead we began to talk about the signs and symptoms and how using Lucky Iron Fish could help alleviate things like fatigue and headaches and make people stronger.” As they worked to educate women, dispelling false myths such as if you’re menstruating in Cambodia you’re not supposed to eat meat, Lucky Iron Fish was more readily adopted.

And in the parts of the world where iron deficiency is most common, it’s most important that women are on board.

“In traditional communities like Cambodia or India, the head of the household is typically the matriarch, and she prepares every meal. Gavin with woman in IndiaWhen she uses Lucky Iron Fish, she is empowered, knowing she is having a direct and positive impact on her family’s well-being.”

Gavin is a deep believer that when you empower women, you’re empowering the future. “Women hold the key to the success of the future. Children are the next generation and they believe in and learn so much from their mothers. Especially in Cambodia and India, when the values of the household are situated around the mother, you see the power she has in influencing her children to make healthy choices as they grow.”

And it’s working. Quantitative clinical data revealed consistent use of Lucky Iron Fish resulted in healthier hemoglobin levels, and mothers reported less fainting, as well as associated physical and mental improvements in their children.

“Women hold the key to the success of the future. Children are the next generation and they believe in and learn so much from their mothers.”

But the work of dispelling taboos and myths associated with women’s health is not limited to developing nations. “Here in Canada, we shy away from talking directly about women’s health, which is a problem when the female body, especially during reproductive age, has an incredibly unique need for nutrients.” When it comes to women’s health, experience is needed to add depth to the conversation around innovation, and by taking women’s perspectives so closely into consideration, Lucky Iron Fish addresses a need in a way that may have otherwise gone overlooked.

“One of the best parts of Lucky Iron Fish is the buy one get one program, which draws a direct connection between the women in North America and the women in developing nations who are both benefiting from the exact same technology,” Gavin explains. Unlike programs that donate money after a Western consumer buys a product, creating a hierarchy of “saviour vs saved,” when you put this fish in your pot, someone around the world is doing the same, proving that in spite of the racial, geographical and cultural divides, iron is equally important to everyone. To date, 80,000 Lucky Iron Fish have been sold, and 80,000 fish have been given away for free.

In terms of career role models, Gavin has always looked up to leaders who’ve defied the odds or done things differently in the fields of business, society, and politics. “I believe in the outsider, and the idea that you don’t have to conform to be successful,” he says. “Look at Hillary Clinton. She is someone who persevered and turned that perseverance into something impactful.”

Gavin also wants to show how being financially successful and socially responsible are not mutually exclusive. “If I can prove through Lucky Iron Fish that social enterprises are profitable, sustainable, and effecting global change, I consider that a success.”

Learn more about the impact Lucky Iron Fish has had in developing communities, their awards and accolades, and how you can get your own.

RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala 2016 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/11/23/rbc-canadian-women-entrepreneur-awards-gala-2016/ Wed, 23 Nov 2016 22:05:15 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=164035 November 16, 2016 – Women entrepreneurs deserve to be celebrated. We look forward to the gala every year because it provides the opportunity for women entrepreneurs to be honoured for their contribution to our economy. Thank you to our Presenting sponsor RBC, our Award sponsors ADP, Deloitte, Telus, and PROFIT Magazine, our Patron sponsors Ricoh Canada and Spafax, and to our official Gift sponsor Baume & Mercier.

Visit our RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards page to see past winners and nominees of these prestigious awards.

Embracing mobility: the key to success in the digital age http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/11/22/embracing-mobility-the-key-to-success-in-the-digital-age/ Tue, 22 Nov 2016 18:45:33 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=163890 woman holding phone
Mobile devices have brought advancements to virtually all aspects of modern life, from our personal time to how we work. And yet not all businesses — especially those that are small to medium sized — have embraced mobility to achieve positive results.

Of the 1400 companies included in the 2015 Cisco Mobility Landscape Survey, a full 63 per cent still didn’t have a mobility strategy, even though the majority (56 per cent) were using mobility to win over customers. So if the payoff is clear, what’s keeping businesses from “going digital”?

In the SMB space, the issue is one of resources, and security is strongly tied into that. According to Nolan Greene, a network infrastructure research analyst with IDC, “Many SMBs do not go beyond installing basic wireless connectivity, often through consumer-grade infrastructure. A lack of full-blown enterprise-grade security can result in SMBs being the target of network predators.”

Plus, employees want to use personal devices for work, and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) remains a challenge for smaller organizations. As Nolan explains, “Devices can be infected off-premises and carry potentially harmful malware onto the business network. Also, personal devices can be used for non-business applications that may divert valuable bandwidth away from mission-critical applications.”

For these reasons, it’s not surprising that many SMBs are lacking in a mobility strategy — but it is unfortunate.

Here are the top five reasons why mobility is a key to success in the digital age, regardless of your company size:

1) Improved customer satisfaction and service with location-based applications and analytics, and connected mobile experiences that offer real value through customer engagement.

2) Improved employee productivity, collaboration and satisfaction with the ability to take advantage of a mobile workspace, greater efficiencies in day-to-day operations with cloud applications, and BYOD capabilities that satisfy “the mobile generation.”

3) Protected data, business and employees with an enterprise-level mobility management program that makes BYOD safer, offering malware and web protection.

4) Cost savings and scalability through moving to cloud-based platforms, which offer simplicity without giving up performance.

5) Increased ability to compete effectively with companies who lack a mobile strategy — and for SMBs, that can include larger organizations — due to the ability to quickly scale, improve operational efficiencies, and better engage employees and customers.

Want to learn how to embrace mobility for your company? Try the free Mobility Fundamentals course featured in the Cisco Women Entrepreneurs’ Academy! Simply fill in this quick survey for access.

Meet Linda Hung, Senior Director of Theme Parks http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/11/22/meet-linda-hung-senior-director-of-theme-parks/ Tue, 22 Nov 2016 13:42:36 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=163861 Linda HungLinda Hung is the Senior Director of Theme Parks at FORREC, a global entertainment design company based in Toronto. Her project experience includes the design and development of large-scale destination resorts such as Resorts World in Singapore, regional parks including LEGOLAND Florida, LEGOLAND Malaysia and Universal Studios Singapore and a local children’s playground in the not-for-profit Evergreen Brickworks at home in Toronto.

My first job ever was working at an ice cream stand in Toronto’s Eaton Centre. I was 13, and thrilled to be getting paid $3.15 an hour. It never mattered to me that it took an hour each way to my three-hour shift after school – I was just so thrilled someone wanted to hire me. Who could have imagined that a scooping ice cream would turn into a career of designing entertainment projects?

I decided to enter the world of theme park development because this is the most fascinating work I had ever heard of. I started my career in traditional landscape architecture, but never knew someone could actually plan and design theme parks as a real job.

My proudest accomplishment was not flying 190,000 miles last year, but returning from each trip to a happy home, where my husband and I figure out how to manage a family while we both pursue our own careers. We are determined to make travel, career and family work.

My boldest move to date was taking the leap from being the master planner who designs the experience at theme parks to the sector leader who closes the business deals. I was very comfortable and confident as a master planner, a job I did for more than 12 years. In my first year in business development, everything felt like a hurdle – including the public speaking. But it forced me out of my comfort zone. My strategy was to absorb as much as I could from the talent around me to develop the skills to do my job.

I surprise people when I tell them that my simple joy is shopping for my mother. My mother doesn’t shop for clothing. Since I can remember, my siblings and I have always maintained her wardrobe. It’s our special connection, and I have so much fun helping her look stylish.

My best advice for someone looking for a unique career path is that it takes time. Be patient with your craft. Set realistic goals and develop your skills one at a time. In our fast-paced world, there’s often a tendency to think that you have to achieve results instantly. But if you love what you do, I believe that your career will naturally advance, because you don’t stop learning.

Related: Interested in more women with unique jobs? Meet Natalie Panek, rocket scientist and women in tech advocate.

My best advice from a mentor was from my Dad. He was a very quiet man who didn’t say a lot – maybe that’s why I’ve retained most of the advice he gave me. He emigrated to Canada at 24 and made his own way, job by job. He told me that “you are not born with wealth, fame or prestige…you have no control over these things. But you can control how hard you work and pave the path to achieve your goals.”

My biggest setback was my Dad’s passing at the early age of 53. This experience with grief moved me to change my life. It was the year I grew up.

I overcame it by refocusing my priorities and returning to Toronto to be near my family. I found out about FORREC at that time and started my first job with the company. It quickly became clear to me that this would be a long-term commitment.

Linda Hung with dogI balance work and life by being flexible in how I think about balance. It doesn’t have to mean that there is an exact 50-50 split between work and home. In fact, I probably work more than I am at home. But I feel mentally balanced, in control, and I love what I do. I make sure my children and my family get what they need from me.

Being a woman in international business is so rewarding – it reaffirms that there are no boundaries. I don’t think I necessarily meet a client’s initial expectation of a senior representative of FORREC. They’re usually expecting a Western-born man. And not too long ago, a Canadian-born, Chinese-woman working in China was very challenging to that culture. But I focus on being competent, knowing my business, and winning their confidence.

Working with clients around the world helps me appreciate different countries and cultures. This appreciation has grown since the age of 23 when I moved to Hong Kong, leaving the comfort of home cooked meals, to pursue my first full time job. And I love that I have friends that I have worked with all over the world.

If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know how much I love my new Mini Cooper. It’s so much fun to drive.

Creativity is an important part of my job because I am a designer at heart. Design is where my career started and it’s the foundation of my work.

I stay inspired by the people in our company, and the creative solutions they come up with. I often walk around our office, peeking over the shoulders of our designers. They don’t have to be working on my project – just seeing them create, hearing the flow of ideas, makes me want to try new things.

The future excites me because I am now in a different role than what I was 10 years ago. I am shy about using the word mentor, but I do feel like I am passing along my knowledge and encouraging a whole new group of young, enthusiastic and talented people to succeed. That’s incredibly rewarding.