Women of Influence http://www.womenofinfluence.ca Wed, 18 Jan 2017 20:41:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.5 Make their voices heard: How the capital markets sector can benefit from diversity http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2017/01/15/make-their-voices-heard-how-the-capital-markets-sector-can-benefit-from-diversity/ Mon, 16 Jan 2017 02:16:22 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165800

Marian Lawson, Executive Vice-President of Global Financial Institutions and Transaction Banking with Scotiabank, believes that corporate championing of diversity is good for not only minorities, but for businesses as well. Here she explains how not only bringing new perspectives to the forefront, but making those perspectives heard, benefits the capital markets sector. 

By Shelley White


When it comes to diversity in the workplace, it’s not just about bringing disparate voices to the table, says Marian Lawson, Scotiabank’s Executive Vice President of Global Financial Institutions and Transaction Banking. It’s about making sure that those voices are being heard.

As co-chair of the Global Banking and Markets Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, Marian is passionate about championing diversity in Canada’s capital markets sector. She notes that a diverse and inclusive culture can help enable high-performance teams in a competitive industry like hers.

“Different backgrounds bring in different experiences, and while you might not reach a different conclusion, you’re considering diverse perspectives,” she says. “Studies show more diverse groups lead to better business results.”

In fact, a 2015 study by McKinsey & Company called Diversity Matters found that companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. The study also found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have better-than-average financial returns. (To prepare the report, McKinsey examined proprietary data sets for 366 public companies in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Latin America, across a range of industries.)

“Studies show more diverse groups lead to better business results”

“The other thing that’s really important is we want to be a reflection of our community, our customers and our other stakeholders,” adds Marian. “Having a diverse pool of employees allows us to better understand our customers’ needs, which lead to better outcomes.”

To make sure those diverse voices are being heard, it’s critical to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable being their “authentic self,” she says.

“If you’re trying to pretend to be something else, you’re not bringing your best ideas, so I think we need to create environments where people are comfortable being themselves, whatever that self happens to be,” she says. “Whether it’s gender, sexuality or race, people need to feel the environment is welcoming to them.”

Marian is particularly committed to promoting gender diversity in her industry. A long-time leader in corporate and investment banking and global capital markets, in 2016 she was named one of Canada’s most powerful women by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) and received the Women in Capital Markets (WCM) leadership award.

The lack of representation of women in senior corporate roles is a Canada-wide issue. A 2016 report from the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) — a coalition of provincial securities regulators — found that only 12% of all Board seats at the 677 companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) are held by women.

Because there are significant gaps in the level of female representation in Canadian capital markets, Marian says it’s one of their Steering Committee’s top priorities.

“What we’re trying to do is figure out how to move the dial with the numbers of women in our organization,” she says.

Marian says one of the issues is that the capital markets sector has traditionally been a very male-dominated area. “I think the perception of the business was one that was very competitive, very cutthroat — movies like The Wolf of Wall Street don’t help us at all,” she notes.

“The challenge is to find enough qualified and interested women for these jobs. It is like anything – it is the fear of the unknown,” says Marian. “To that end, one of our top priorities is to show as many young women as possible what a day in the life actually looks like. This way, when they make their choice about their career, it is with a better understanding of the role and the work.”

She points to organizations like WCM that do outreach to girls in high school to tell them: “These are really interesting careers and you shouldn’t self-select out of these.” At Scotiabank, Marian says they invite female university students to spend the day and shadow women on the job.

“I think I do it because it’s the right thing to do, and I’ve met so many great women and some of them just needed someone to give them 30 minutes”

To ensure talented women aren’t getting passed over when they do apply for jobs, Marian says the committee has recommended all managers go through unconscious bias training to ensure equitable hiring decisions are being made. “Because it is unconscious, you don’t know you’re doing it,” she says. “We’re trying to make people much more aware of when they do have a bias.”

It’s also important to ensure women feel that they can have a job in capital markets and a family too, says Marian.

“Another initiative our committee has come up with is a program for people on maternity and paternity leave, so it’s making sure people feel supported while they are away,” she says. As part of the program, the group asked fellow employees to become mentors to people on leave. “We launched that a couple weeks ago and the response has been phenomenal in terms of people wanting to be mentors.”

As a mentor and role model herself, Marian says helping talented young women succeed is very important to her.

“I think I do it because it’s the right thing to do, and I’ve met so many great women and some of them just needed someone to give them 30 minutes,” she says. “It’s giving them the push, giving them the encouragement.”

When offering guidance to promising young talent, Marian says she emphasizes that women should never be afraid to ask for what they want.

“If you don’t ask for it, no one’s going to give it to you,” she says. “And I always say: you don’t have to have every skill in the world to do a job. Sometimes it’s about attitude and your ability to learn.”




Meet Susan McPherson, the Angel Investor Women Want on their Team http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2017/01/09/meet-susan-mcpherson-the-woman-you-want-on-your-team/ Mon, 09 Jan 2017 21:28:07 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165689 Susan McPherson

Susan McPherson is the kind of woman women want on their team — and we don’t blame them. She’s the founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, a communications consultancy focusing on the intersection between brands and social good, and currently is focused on investing in and advising women-led technology start-ups. She serves on the boards of several organizations focused on women’s well being and advancement, and was recently selected as a Vital Voices global corporate ambassador, named one of 40 Women to Watch Over 40, Fortune’s 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter, Elle Magazine’s Top 25 Women on Twitter and Fast Company’s 25 Smartest Women of Twitter.

It’s safe to say that when we talk about women’s advancement, Susan is truly leading the charge.


My first job ever was… Waitressing, which provided incredible insight as to how people behave, make choices, and treat their fellow citizens.


My proudest accomplishment is… A tie between travelling to Afghanistan in 2005 to help train women entrepreneurs for peace and visiting refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda with UNHCR in 2014 to better understand the harrowing world they face on a daily basis.


My boldest move to date was… Launching my business, McPherson Strategies, with no prior training as an entrepreneur.


I surprise people when I tell them… That I don’t have children and that I’m single.


The biggest misconception about Corporate Social Responsibility is… That it’s only for the big guys  Fortune 500, multi-national corporations. CSR can be baked into start-ups at the get go. You don’t need to have massive revenues to build “good” into your business.


My best advice for anyone that wants to follow in my footsteps is… Build and constantly nurture your network, not because you are trying to get ahead, but rather, because you are truly interested in what inspires and connects people. Doing so for many years truly made launching our consultancy feasible and successful.


My best advice from a mentor was… From my late father, stating: “Nothing is a prison sentence.” Meaning, you can take a risk without fear and always turn around.


My biggest setback was… When I lost my mom to a hotel fire on New Year’s Eve at the age of 20.


I overcame it by… Wish I could say that I overcame it. Her tragic loss devastated me and now looking back on what will be 30 years ago December 31, 2016, I can honestly say that I have overcame it by doing my best to continue the life she was living, aka always connecting and supporting others, helping meaningful causes and never burning bridges. 


Work/life balance is… Absolutely loving the work I do. It actually often doesn’t feel like work.


If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I as a teenager had a date with a star of the film, Bad News Bears, and I ran 6 marathons (but before social media).

I stay inspired by… All the incredible friends I have in this world and the powerful work each are conducting, as well as my three brilliant nieces who are the voices for our future.


The future excites me because… There is always a new road to take and so many places left on this planet yet to visit.


 Meet Lesley Lawrence, another senior executive devoted to making entrepreneurial dreams come true.

5 Resolutions to Boost Your Career in 2017 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2017/01/06/5-resolutions-to-boost-your-career-in-2017/ Fri, 06 Jan 2017 18:27:29 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165655 woman sitting with laptop at cafe


This time of year, we are inundated with ideas on how to improve our lives. From drinking more water to unplugging more often, there’s no doubt that starting the New Year on a new path to wellness is a good idea. But what about starting the year on a new path to success, one that’s proactive, and nurtures your continued professional growth?

Here are the 5 career resolutions we want to challenge you with in 2017. From daily habits to yearly goals, do these 5 things and we can almost guarantee you’ll end the year on top.



Daily: Wake up 30 minutes earlier

But, counterintuitive as it may sound, don’t use it for work. Instead, wake up and use the first 30 minutes of your day to meditate, journal, exercise, cook a delicious breakfast anything that tells your subconscious you value your health and well-being, but also feels productive and restorative. You’ll be energized, more focused, and ultimately better able to tackle the challenges of your work day.


Weekly: Ask your boss if there’s anything you can do to make their life easier

Unless you’re running the company, chances are you report to someone, and even though we usually assume our bosses have their ducks in line, chances are there’s something extra they could use your help with. Proving you’re willing to go a little bit beyond the job description (within reason) to make your superior’s job easier will teach you knew skills, and paint you as a hardworking, reliable, and an indispensable resource at your company qualities that just might earn you your next promotion.


Monthly: Reach out to someone in your LinkedIn network

It’s easy to neglect your LinkedIn network when you’re not actively seeking a new position, but nurturing your professional connections is one of the most valuable practices you can do for your career. Send a message to a past colleague, teacher, or friend and see if there’s an opportunity for you to help them out they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity, and chances are, they’ll be more likely to return the favour in the future.


Quarterly: Read the biography of a woman whose career you admire

Reading the stories of women who have already made it is an effective way to get inspired and begin to chart out your own career path. Their struggles and the lessons they learned along their unique route to success will help you navigate your own setbacks, and persevere when things aren’t flowing smoothly. Knowing that someone else had a rocky beginning or middle but still made it to a fruitful and satisfying end is sometimes all it takes to stay motivated. We especially like this one, 100 Accomplished Black Canadian WomenStay tuned for the Spring 2017 issue of Women of Influence magazine for a list of more of our favourites!


Yearly: Have the “money talk”

Yes, it’s awkward, and if you’re like many professional women (and men, too) you may gauge your worth based on the salary you’re offered, rather than what you deserve. This year, instead of settling, do some research, summarize your skills and accomplishments, and build that case for why you deserve a raise. The worst that can happen is you get a no. The best? You get more money! It’s always worth it to ask.


Meet Emily Lyons, the Young Serial Entrepreneur With No Plans of Stopping http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2017/01/03/meet-emily-lyons-the-young-serial-entrepreneur-with-no-plans-of-stopping/ Tue, 03 Jan 2017 23:03:17 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165584 Emily Lyons

When Emily Lyons launched her first company at the age of 23, Femme Fatale Media, a high-end event staffing agency in Toronto, it was only the beginning. As her budding venture quickly grew and acquired big-name clients, her insatiable entrepreneurial spirit drove her to create two more businesses. Now a three-time successful entrepreneur before the age of 30, Emily has been featured internationally for her drive and success by media such as Forbes, The New York Post, Ask Men, Flare Magazine, The Globe and Mail, FHM, Maxim and many more. Here, get a glimpse at what motivates her, and the advice she wants to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs.


My first job ever was… I worked on a garlic farm for a day and smelled like it for a week!


I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I never set out with the idea to be an entrepreneur I got inspired and it just happened. However I love being independent, without anyone or anything constraining me. I never wanted my life to be “normal” or “comfortable” or follow a typical script. So by being an entrepreneur, I was actually choosing to create the outcome for my life that deep down I really wanted.

When I started my business… I was excited and determined. I had to experiment my way to success, but I quickly figured out how to leverage my talents and other people’s talents to grow my business.

Starting a company at 23 was… Eye-opening, because I was struck by the bombshell realization that I was being true to myself. And that realization alone was the fuel I needed to keep going whenever things got really hard.

My proudest accomplishment is… Starting and launching 3 successful companies before I hit 30.

My boldest move to date was… Starting Femme Fatale Media without any safety net to catch me and with only $80 in my pocket. I launched the agency in a basement apartment, marshaled onward, and plunged into the world of business and entrepreneurship.

My best advice to people starting out in business is… Don’t ever give up on your all-consuming dream. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give up on a specific approach that isn’t working, but don’t give up on your dearest dream. Not ever.

My best advice from a mentor was… “Do what you love.” My Mom told me that since I was young. She ingrained in me that it didn’t matter what I did or how I did it, but if I was happy, loved it and was a good person along the way that was what was important.

My biggest setback was… My sister passing away in 2011 from Cystic Fibrosis.

I overcame it by… Using it as fuel to succeed.

Work/life balance is… Something I don’t worry about too much. That’s because I love entrepreneurship and I love my companies and if you love what you’re doing in life, then work/life balance doesn’t enter into the equation. Obsession, not balance, keeps me fired up.

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… After googling people are always surprised by how big Femme Fatale Media really is.

I stay inspired by… Constantly doing what I love doing and remembering how far I’ve come.

The future excites me because… It is something tangible that I can proactively change!


Meet more successful female entrepreneurs, like the founder of Prairie Girl Bakery, Jean Blacklock.


5 Minutes with Mary Ann Turcke http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2017/01/01/5-minutes-with-mary-ann-turcke/ Mon, 02 Jan 2017 03:35:51 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165504 Mary Ann Turcke

Mary Ann Turcke is President of Bell Media, Canada’s premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio, out-of-home advertising, and digital media. With nearly two decades spent leading both Canadian and American companies, she knows more than a thing or two about what it means to be a woman with power – and what it will take to create more of them.

As an influential figure in the Canadian business landscape, Mary Ann is committed to helping talented women advance in her organization, because she recognizes there are too few women at the top levels of leadership in the country. Although she says that she never felt overt discrimination in her career, she adds “I think a lot of gender discrimination happens when you’re not in the room.” Mary Ann believes it’s important to show women that they can, and should, aspire to the highest levels of achievement.

“I think that getting women into executive positions starts when you recognize top performers in middle management,” she says. “In a lot of organizations, women look up and they don’t see many women and they think it just doesn’t happen. They get intimidated, they self-select out of the corporation, out of working altogether, so when you have high performers, you have to really support them and give them the confidence that they can do it.”

At the same time, women hoping to rise in the ranks can’t be afraid to pursue opportunities vigorously, says Mary Ann. “You can’t underestimate the amount of lobbying your peers are doing, whether it’s men or women.”

It’s essential to create an informal network of support within the organization by seeking out guidance and advice from superiors you respect, she says. Then take opportunities to work with them, in order to build a critical mass of senior people who have seen what you can do.

“Then when the executive team is talking about talent, you’ve got two or three people saying, ‘She worked with me and it was amazing.’ That’s how it happens,” she adds.

In looking at at her own career success, Mary Ann says she attributes it to hard work, resilience, perseverance and always being willing to take a risk.

“I never felt mortgaged to a job, or tied to a job, I always felt somewhat like a free agent,” she says. “If I felt like I could be accomplishing more, not in terms of financial means, but having more fun or learning more somewhere else, then I did that. And I learned a lot along the way.”


Read more from Mary Ann Turcke and her perspective on having it all.

Three Simple Steps to Love You More: This Year, Make Your Resolutions About Self-Care http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/12/26/three-simple-steps-to-love-you-more-this-year-make-your-resolutions-about-self-care/ Mon, 26 Dec 2016 15:50:43 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165499 woman practicing yoga

Whether dealing with the daily demands of your job or looking to make a big move up the ladder, you’ll be better equipped to meet any challenge that comes your way when you’re at your optimal health. That’s why we’ve partnered with SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU.—Putting Women’s Health First—to provide tips and advice that will help you achieve health and balance in mind, body, and spirit. Because you’ll be at your best, in your personal life and your career, when you LOVE.YOU.

What if we suggested that the #1 resolution you make this year is to LOVE YOU? Would your first reaction be, “Oh I couldn’t, that’s too selfish” or would it be, “I don’t have time to focus on me” or would it be, “Of course, taking the time to love myself is exactly what I need this year”? Well, if it’s not the third response, please consider the following:


According to Cheryl Richardson, author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care, “When we care for ourselves deeply and deliberately, we naturally begin to care for others—our families, our friends, and the world—in a healthier and more effective way.”


Making self-love a resolution isn’t selfish, it’s actually a commitment to yourself that will benefit everyone else in your life. Besides, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Simply break it down into three categories—body, mind, and spirit—and give a little more attention to each as we head into the new year.


Body: A healthy body is the foundation of a healthy YOU. Taking the time to nurture your body will go a long way toward boosting productivity by giving you the energy and strength you need to get everything done. Start by making a commitment to eating well, choosing the right foods, and making time to nourish your body.  Then, get your body moving! Just 10 or 20 minutes of exercise a day can go a long way toward making you feel more energized and lowering your risk of the diseases  most common to women. Finally, give your body the rest it needs to recharge. Getting enough sleep and giving yourself permission to have some downtime are key to a self-love regime. Treat your body well and it will continue to support you.


Mind: Your mind is one of your greatest assets, but it also needs care sometimes. Taking a mental break can be as easy as putting down your phone, stepping away from your desk, and taking a walk outside. Mindfulness, a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, is the best way to relax your mind. You can get into a state of mindfulness through meditation, a yoga class, colouring or doodling, or even staring out the window. The key is to let go of thoughts of the past or the future and just be in the moment. Loving yourself means giving yourself the mental breaks you need to regroup and refocus.


Spirit: The best way to nurture your spirit is to surround yourself with people you love, places that inspire you, and things that ignite your passion. Spiritual renewal can happen over drinks with your closest friends, a dinner with family, or a weekend away by the ocean. It can happen when you take the time to start a new hobby, or when you’re curling up with your favourite book. Start by giving yourself permission to do more of what you love. We know stress isn’t avoidable, but how we respond to stressful situations determines the impact they’ll have on us. When you’re in a good place, feeling cared for and loved, you’ll find yourself able to respond more calmly and with less urgency to anything that comes up at work or home.

Self-love is a resolution that can have a great impact on all areas of your life, and the only one who can give it to you, is you!


SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. – Putting Women’s Health First – is our commitment to helping you stay focused on being your best in body, mind and spirit. It shares the expertise of our partners and connects you with others in support of local, community-based Women’s Health initiatives across Canada. Find one that moves you and join our journey to strengthen Women’s Health across Canada!

If your charitable group has a program to help women in your community lead stronger and healthier lives, we may be able to help.


Good Question: After taking time off to raise my family, I’m looking for my next position. Where do I begin? http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/12/23/good-question-after-taking-time-off-to-raise-my-family-im-looking-for-my-next-position-where-do-i-begin/ Fri, 23 Dec 2016 16:39:48 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165489 Christine Laperriere

Christine Laperriere is the Executive Director of the Women of Influence Advancement Centre. She is also an executive coach and seasoned expert focused on helping female leaders and teams reduce internal conflict, improve employee engagement, and more effectively engage with customers and prospects. Over the past eight years, she has taught hundreds of leaders through her Mastering Me and Leadership Through Conflict and Change courses. Her background includes undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, certifications in psychotherapy and executive coaching, along with years in management consulting with a focus on implementation of large change management and restructuring initiatives.

Here, she answers a common question so many mothers grapple with as they shift their focus from being a primary caregiver to their children back to cultivating an exciting and fulfilling career. 


Q: After taking time away from my career to raise my family, I’m now looking for my next position—and a new challenge. I feel so intimidated and overwhelmed as I look to re-enter the workplace. What I used to want out of my career has changed dramatically, given that I’m at a different stage of life. Where do I begin?


This is a great question that many female professionals decide to get coaching on. Many women take a break from their career to raise their family, and when they decide it’s time to come back to work, everything has changed. Here are the steps I recommend to get yourself started on your new career journey:  


1. Get Clear on Your Ideal Job Criteria

During a recent coaching call, I was working with a client who was interviewing for a position that would require an hour commute to and from the office. She is the mother of two small children and if she got this position, it would require her to add after-school supervision and nanny services to her budget just to ensure she had proper care for her children during her extended workday.

I noticed through the conversation that the idea of her getting this position was causing her a lot of stress. We needed to step back and get clear on her “Ideal Job Criteria.” We decided that for her to feel excited about a position while honoring her commitments at home she would need local work or a position that allowed her to work remotely. We also decided that it would be critical for her to have flexibility to stay home when her children were sick. Finally, her ideal job would allow her to work a 30 hour week as opposed to the standard 40 hour week so she could avoid having to pay for additional child care services.  Once we got very clear on her needs, she was able to proactively discuss these criteria with potential employers rather than interview for positions that were not a good fit for her given her responsibilities.


2. List Your Transferable Skills

This client also felt very stuck given that her former job title was very specific to a niche industry. The more she looked for positions of the same title and industry, the more hopeless she felt. In another coaching conversation, we spent time diving into her transferrable skill set. It was interesting to see that in her former position, she had extensive business development experience, success in building relationships with key accounts, and she had demonstrated very strong project management skills.  

When she realized how many employers are hunting for these skills, she could quickly see how she could confidently apply for more positions outside of her current industry and know she would be a great fit for them.


3. Know What You Love Doing

We spent some time talking about what she loves doing. This part is important and often overlooked. Because she was unemployed and looking for a new position, she felt at the mercy of employers. When we focused on what she loves doing, it helped us select a handful of positions for her to pursue that she was not only qualified for, but that she would also thoroughly enjoy doing.


4. Create Your “Best and Worst” List

Finally, I invited her to do a fun exercise. She created a list of every position she’d ever had (yes, including the babysitting job at age 12 and her days as a dairy maid). In columns, she captured the aspects of each position that she really enjoyed as well as the aspects that she really didn’t enjoy. When she reviewed these observations, she found that she had new items to add to her “What I love doing” and “Transferable Skills” lists, and she had new “Ideal Job Criteria,” based on all that she didn’t enjoy about her previous jobs.

I’m happy to report that this client has found a position that meets her criteria and truly leverages her skills. She’s very excited about this position and I am sure she’s aligned for success. Follow these four steps yourself and watch how quickly you start to see new opportunities opening up before your eyes!


To learn more about how you or your company can engage Christine as a coach or to help educate you within your organization, you can reach out to her directly at advance@womenofinlfuence.com.


Women of Influence Evening Series – Kim Newport-Mimran http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/12/21/women-of-influence-evening-series-kim-newport-mimran/ Wed, 21 Dec 2016 20:12:47 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165473 On December 13 2016, we welcomed the President and Head Designer of Pink Tartan to the Women of Influence podium, for a rare opportunity to tap into her expert insights on personal branding, international success, and what it took to get there. From buyer at Club Monaco to entrepreneurial mastermind, Kim Newport-Mimran is a force to be reckoned with on a global scale.  

Women of Influence Luncheon Series – Women in Politics Panel http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/12/21/women-of-influence-luncheon-series-women-in-politics-panel/ Wed, 21 Dec 2016 19:49:13 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165422 On Friday, December 09, we hosted a groundbreaking Season Finale Luncheon to shine the spotlight on three incredible women in politics. We sat down for a conversation with The Honourable Bardish Chagger, The Honourable Jane Philpott, and The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould to hear about their incredible personal journeys and the current state of the nation.

Meet Rose Reisman, Canada’s Favourite Caterer & Nutrition Expert http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/2016/12/21/meet-rose-reisman-canadas-favourite-caterer-nutrition-expert/ Wed, 21 Dec 2016 17:21:56 +0000 http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/?p=165306 Rose Reisman

Rose is an award-winning entrepreneur, caterer, author and media personality who has taken her passion for healthy living and developed it into a multi-faceted enterprise. She recently published her 19th cookbook, and in 2015 launched a Children’s Lunch Program, providing hot and healthy meals to schools in the GTA. A nutritional consultant armed with an MBA, she’s one of Canada’s leading authorities on the art of eating and living well.


My first job ever was when I was only 14 years old. I took two buses every weekend at 6 am to travel to a perfume and soap company called Rayette Faberge. I was on the production line placing caps over shampoo and perfume bottles!


I entered the health and wellness field because my immediate family suffered from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. My father and my aunt died in their 50s from massive heart attacks, and my grandmother died in her 50s from type 2 diabetes—I knew firsthand how devastating these preventable diseases could be.  


I surprise people when I tell them I love waking up at 4:15 am!


My best advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to first find work that you love and is feasible, and then be prepared to live and breathe it. It’s a mix of practicality and passion!


My best advice from a mentor was to always be a role model for everyone around you. You’ve got to not only “talk the talk,” but more importantly, “walk the walk.”


My biggest setback was when the publishing landscape changed and cookbook sales dropped significantly. Everyone was going online to find recipes and I had to expand my ventures.


I overcame it by researching new ways to get my message and philosophy about healthy living out there. I looked at how else I could use my cooking and nutritional skills, and switched over to catering and menu consulting, serving corporate clients, as well as hot lunches to elementary schools.


Work/life balance is key to me. Working out daily, walking my two German Shepherds, seeing my children and twin granddaughters, and fitting in a day of work makes for a schedule, but it’s what keeps me sane!


I stay inspired by seeing the potential of growing my business and brand, and communicating my healthy living philosophy to as many as possible. My true inspiration comes from watching my children grow into mature hard-working adults and having a marriage that has successfully lasted for 40 years!


The future excites me because I never know where my work will take me. I love that my work is constantly evolving and I hope that as I age, I will continue to be a role model for healthy living for all generations. No disappearing into the sunset just yet!


The one health lesson I wish everyone could learn is that eating and living well may not be easy, but once you get into the routine it has a domino effect. Everything starts to fall into place when you take care of yourself.