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Top 25 Women of Influence™

By: Diane Francis


This year could be aptly dubbed the Year of the Female because women made high-profile gains in politics, business and sports. In the US election, an unprecedented 181 women ran for Congress, attempting to increase their ranks from 90 in the House of Representatives and 17 in the Senate.

In Canada, four out of the country’s 13 Premiers were women: Alison Redford of Alberta; Christy Clark of BC; Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador; and Eva Aariak of Nunavut.

Internationally, women also advanced. The heads of three of the world’s most dynamic economies and nation-states were female: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Dimla Vana Linhares Rousseff, President of Brazil; and Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia.

In business, women continued to retain or reach heady heights: Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard; Virginia Rometty of IBM; Patricia Woertz of Archer Daniels Midland; Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo; Angela Braly of WellPoint; Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft; and Ellen Kullman of DuPont.

And in 2012, one of the biggest pay packages in history went to Marissa Mayer, enticed from Google to become CEO of Yahoo! at a reported $70 million over five years.

In sports, several Islamic countries sent female Muslim athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time in history. Women’s rights are also human rights which is why, wherever allowed, achievements must be celebrated, recognized and furthered. This is why Women of Influence created its unique recognition program called the Top 25 Women of Influence™.

The 25 women profiled in these pages have not only made a significant difference in their chosen fields but they are exceptionally influential. This is an important criterion because such women also serve as important role models for Canadian women and girls.

The Top 25 includes women from many backgrounds, educational levels, skill sets, personality types, sectors, professions, regions and interests. Some extend influence across Canada, across a sector or internationally.

Some have been celebrated leaders for many years and are already well known. Those ranked on these pages have continued to strive despite years of past achievements. This makes them “recent” influencers.

Nominations were not sought, but high potential and recognized women were approached by Women of Influence and asked to submit information about their careers based on high-level criteria. The process was deliberate and fair. It was designed to find those achievers who are also currently among the most influential persons in their sector and profession.

Those in each category were evaluated based on a number of current factors such as the number of notable positions held, number of board directorships, contribution to their organization’s success in the past year, increase in compensation this year, recent awards, recent promotions, number of employees managed, contribution to their organization’s growth and the number of deals led and/or closed this year. The ranking is measurable, quantifiable and credible, and these women are selected from the best of the other awards then ranked according to their successes.

The 25 most highly-ranked women are drawn from five categories: Business; Health; Non-Government Organization; Professional Services; and Public Sector. On Women of Influence Magazine’s cover are showcased the winners of WOI’s social media contest to represent each:

• BUSINESS – Pauline D’Amboise, Secretary General and Vice- President Cooperative Support, Desjardins Group

• HEALTH – Dr. Eve Tsai, Neurosurgeon, The Ottawa Hospital; Associate Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute; Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa

• NGO – Rosemary McCarney, President and Chief Executive Officer, Plan Canada

• PROFESSIONAL SERVICES – Jane Allen, Partner, Chief Diversity Officer, Global Renewable Energy Leader, Deloitte

• PUBLIC SECTOR – Nancy Croitoru, President & Chief Executive Officer, Food & Consumer Products of Canada

Women of Influence has devoted a great deal of thought and effort to determining the criteria behind its annual Top 25 ranking. The result is that these recipients represent a greater cross-section of Canadian society and business than do most awards results.

The influential women in the Business category include Moya Greene, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Mail Group, and Sylvia Chrominska, Group Head, Global Resources and Communications with Scotiabank. Both occupy positions in disparate sectors in different regions.

In Health services, the criteria includes notable positions, recent awards won, notable awards won, number of boards, number of employees managed, compensation increases this year, promotions and contribution to the organization’s growth. Recipients included 2011 recipient and cover woman Dr. Eve Tsai, but also new additions such as Camille Orridge, CEO of Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.

The Non-Governmental Organization category includes Beverley Wybrow, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Women’s Foundation, and Bonnie Schmidt, President and Founder of Let’s Talk Science, an organization devoted to helping children learn sciences, technology, engineering and math, as well as Beverley Wybrow, CEO of Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Professional Services includes Anne Stewart, Partner with Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, and Marlys Edwardh, Partner with Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP.

The Public Sector category includes again Carol Stephenson, Dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University in London. A newcomer to the roster was Cristina Amon, Dean of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto.

The recipients profiled represent an impressive roster. Canada certainly has more than its fair share of empowered and effective women in all walks of life. So enjoy and read on. Clearly, once more, the Top 25 Women of Influence™  inspire and highlight the importance of female achievement and influence.


Diane Francis is Editor at Large, National Post, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, an author and director on four boards.