Women & Health Panel – Toronto, March 6, 2014

Women of Influence

From our Health Panel: For the ambitious professional woman, work is never-ending, never mind the constant care taking of families, friends and social responsibilities; as a result the unfortunate by-product is that women’s personal health now occupies the lowest priority on the to do list. A recent poll of our members revealed that only 10% of professional women make personal health their number one priority – outside of work and life – but a staggering 68% of members wished they spent more time doing so.

Moderator: Dr. Marla Shapiro; Panelists: Dr. Vivien Brown, MDCM, CCFP, FCFP, NCMP, Vice-President, Medical Affairs, Medisys Health Group, Lynn Posluns, President, Women’s Brain Health Initiative and nutritionist Leslie Beck, RD.

How do you find a mentor?

I was at an event recently for Young Women of Influence, and was really struck by something that happened.  We had just heard an engaging presentation on personal branding and how to get ahead in business.  The room was packed with acutely ambitious and well-heeled women poised in their career and ready for take-off.  The speaker had just opened up the floor for questions, when a young woman raised her hand and asked the ubiquitous question: “How do you find a mentor?”  I looked around, completely surprised, and thinking to myself, are we still having this conversation?

As the owner of a company dedicated to providing access to female role models, we have this conversation all the time, but so have many others, including mega-watt female role models like Sheryl Sandberg who wrote an entire chapter on the subject.  So, why are we still asking this question?

Just as I’m thinking this through, I heard another woman, this time right behind me, whisper to her friend “oh, that’s a good question!”

I guess that’s my answer!  We’re still talking about this and it’s important.  Maybe we need to get better at answering it.

On November 20th we celebrated the Top 25 Women of Influence, the annual ranking of the most influential women in Canada, so I took the opportunity to ask these women how they found their mentors, and how young women can reach out to them.  Here’s what they said.

The Top 9 ways to find a mentor, from the most influential women in Canada:

1. Be coachable and be passionate.
Claudia Hepburn, Executive Director, The Next 36

2. Establish trust early on.
Kimberley Mason, Regional President, Atlantic Provinces, RBC Royal Bank

3. Have many mentoring moments during critical periods in your career.
Jane Allen, Chief Diversity Officer, Partner, Global Renewable Energy Leader, Deloitte

4. Surround yourself with good people.
Chris Power, Christine Power, President and CEO, Capital District Health Authority

5. Make a list of who you want to be when you grow up.  And then find a way to make them part of your life.  Don’t limit yourself to one person.
Connie Clerici, President, Closing the Gap, Healthcare

6. Pay it forward.  Offer to help junior or senior people to create mentorship moments.  It can only be viewed as a good thing.  The best is to then make them recurring moments to learn and understand the context of the organization and how you could contribute to those issues.
Gay Mitchell, Deputy Chairman, RBC Wealth Management

7. Reach out to people you admire.  Finding a good mentor can be as important to your career as finding a soul mate is to the rest of your life. Don’t sit waiting until a mentor finds you.
Wendy Cukier, Vice President Research and Innovation, and Founder & Director, Diversity Institute, Ryerson University

8. Be open to serendipity. It was serendipitous that I met my mentor.  I was searching for employment and what came of it was one of the most influential people in my life.
Danielle Smith, graduate of The Next 36 and mentee of Claudia Hepburn

9. Use social media to demonstrate what you’re good at, your interests and strengths.
Lisa Heidman, Senior Client Partner, The Bedford Consulting Group

On the subject of asking for a mentor itself, I have heard a consistent response from peers and influential women everywhere; they don’t like to be asked.  In fact, the general rule of thumb for finding a mentor seems to be that if you have to ask, it’s probably not right.

Instead, opt for a less direct approach, but no less strategic.  Scouring LinkedIn and keeping up to date with news to find people who inspire you is the first step, and then find ways to get close to them.  What’s always worked well for me is a combination of joining a project, group, club, or team so that you have the opportunity to bond and get to know each other in a comfortable environment.  And then offer to do something for them.  Paying it forward has never let me down as a strategy.

To read in depth and personal profiles of the Top 25 Women of Influence, click here.

Carolyn Lawrence (@CLLAWRENCE) is the president and CEO of Women of Influence Inc, (www.womenofinfluence.ca) a North American company offering Gender Diversity consulting, Executive Leadership Development, Events and Media; all to shatter the glass ceiling and see women and business succeed together.

2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award Winners

Women of Influence

On November 27th, Women of Influence celebrated the recipients of the 2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.  The six award winners, representing the best of what the country has to offer, were recognized for their contributions to the local, Canadian, and global economies. Diane Francis, editor-at-large at the National Post, hosted the ceremony, which is now in its 21st year.

“RBC is honoured to support and recognize women entrepreneurs who have taken their passion for an idea and made it into a business from start-up to success,” said Andrea Bolger, executive vice president, Business Financial Services, RBC Royal Bank. “It’s this entrepreneurial spirit that we celebrate at these annual awards – the extraordinary vision, determination and achievements of women entrepreneurs across Canada.”

2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award Winners. L to R: Jennifer Tory, RBC; Diane Francis, National Post; Suzanne West, Black Shire Energy; Judith Bobbitt, Oceans Ltd; Jennifer Nashmi & Victoria Sopik, Kids & Company; Lisa Tuningly, T-Rail Products; Tamara Barker Watson, Whitestone Developments; Carolyn Lawrence, Women of Influence.

The Awards program identifies finalists from three regions across Canada (West, Central, and East) and the 2013 winners call places from Vancouver to Halifax home.  All the nominees share a strong entrepreneurial vision and a relentless passion to pursue their dreams and make something better, in their communities, their industries, and their country.

“On behalf of everyone at this year’s RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, we are so very proud to highlight the successes of the award recipients,” said Carolyn Lawrence, President and CEO, Women of Influence Inc.  “Each winner is incredibly deserving of all the accolades bestowed upon her and the resulting momentum to propel the growth of her business. These women are incredible role models for future generations.”

The 2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards recipients are:

Deloitte Start-Up Award
Lisa Tuningley, President, T-RAIL Products Inc.

Hub HKMB Impact Award
Judith Bobbitt, President, Oceans Ltd.

RBC Momentum Award
Victoria Sopik & Jennifer Nashmi, CEO and Co-Founder / CFO and Co-Founder, Kids & Company

TPH Sustainability Award
Tamara Barker Watson, CEO, Whitestone Developments Ltd.

TELUS Trailblazer Award
Shannon Rogers, President & General Counsel, Global Relay

PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Suzanne Lee West, President and CEO, Black Shire Energy Inc.

Arianna Huffington – Defining Success

In just eight years The Huffington Post has become one of the most important and influential news sites on the Internet. Much of the credit is due to its charismatic co-founder and editor-in-chief. Arianna Huffington is at the forefront of the new media revolution, an entrepreneur, author,  syndicated broadcaster and business leader with a unique perspective into the issues that shape our world today: politics, the economy, the media and public policy. Twice named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, Huffington has also been named one of Newsweek’s Ten Top Thought Leaders of the Decade; and one of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes.

On September 11, 2013, Women of Influence was pleased to have Arianna Huffington, Chair, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, as a guest speaker to the Women of Influence Luncheon Series, Toronto.

Breaking Gender Barriers – Women in Construction

Women are still underrepresented in the construction industry, and that’s not because we don’t want in — from the Bobcat to the scaffold, as engineers and executives, many of us are taking a place in an industry that once had no room for us — but before we can fully realize the potential of this growing business, there’s going to have to be an attitude adjustment.

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2013 Ranking of Top 25 Women of Influence Revealed

Prestigious annual ranking showcases the most influential Canadian women by sector

TORONTO, Sept. 12, 2013 /CNW/ – Women of Influence today announced the 2013 ranking of its Top 25 Women of Influence. Now in its third year, the ranking is designed to celebrate and showcase the achievements of the most influential Canadian women in business, health, non-government organizations, professional services, and the public sector over the course of the last year.

These women 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.

The women who made this year’s ranking are not judged or selected based on accomplishment alone, but on the sheer size of their reach and influence over the last 12 months. Candidates are selected based on previous award recognitions and asked to complete a questionnaire about their work including: presence on boards, number of employees managed, funds raised, business deals initiated/led, and published work.

“Women of Influence is driving an important cultural shift in the workplace by celebrating these exceptional 25 women. Women of Influence is dedicated to the advancement of professional women across North America,” explainedCarolyn Lawrence, President and CEO of Women of Influence. “This includes celebrating the accomplishments of this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence who are driving an important culture shift in the workplace by acting as role models for women in every sector and at every stage of their careers.”

All 25 women will be profiled in the winter issue of Women of Influence magazine, with the public selecting the five women who will appear on its cover via online voting at http://www.womenofinfluence.ca/top-25-cover-contest/ fromSeptember 12th – September 18th. In honor and celebration of the Top25 WOI, we will be shining the light and giving them the profile they deserve at the following events:

  • Release of the social media campaign on September 12th
  • Cisco magazine launch party: To unite the Top25 women of Influence, their mentees, their champions and the media on November 20, 2013
  • Special winter issue Women of Influence magazine profiling the Top25 winners: On sale November 21st
  • Deloitte Women of Influence Luncheon: The December 3 luncheon to celebrate the Top25 winners and speakerKirstine Stewart, President of Twitter Canada who was a past Top25 winner.

Below is a summary of this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence by category:


  1. Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO, Plan Canada
  2. Annette Bergeron, P.Eng. President, Professional Engineers Ontario
  3. Mitzie Hunter,  MPP for Scarborough—Guildwood
  4. Claudia Hepburn, Executive Director, The Next 36
  5. Janice O’Born, Chairman, The Printing House Charitable Office


  1. Karen Sheriff, President and CEO, Bell Aliant Regional Communications Inc.
  2. Kimberley Mason, Regional President, Atlantic Provinces, RBC Royal Bank
  3. Tracy Redies, President and Chief Executive Officer, Coast Capital Savings Credit Union
  4. Sue Paish, President and CEO, LifeLabs Medical Laboratories Inc.
  5. Amiee Chan, President & CEO, Norsat International Inc.


  1. Wendy Cukier, Vice President Research and Innovation and Founder and Director, Diversity Institute, Ryerson University
  2. Ann Buller, President and CEO, Centennial College
  3. Janice MacKinnon, Professor/Doctor, University of Saskatchewan
  4. Beatrix Dart, Associate Dean, Executive Degree Programs, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
  5. Deb Matthews, Member of Provincial Parliament for London North Centre, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Deputy Premier of Ontario, Legislative Assembly of Ontario


  1. Cheryl Reicin, Partner, Torys LLP
  2. Sharon Geraghty, Partner, Torys LLP
  3. Beth Wilson, Managing Partner, GTA and Canadian Managing Partner, Community Leadership KPMG LLP
  4. Jane Allen, Partner, Chief Diversity Officer, Global Renewable Energy Leader, Deloitte
  5. Evelyn Jacks, President, Knowledge Bureau


  1. Janet Rossant, Chief of Research & Senior Scientist, The Hospital for Sick Children
  2. Christine Power, President and CEO, Capital District Health Authority
  3. Daniela Crivianu-Gaita, VP IMT & CIO, The Hospital for Sick Children
  4. Marla Shapiro, Associate Professor, Medical Consultant CTV News, Medical Contributor Canada AM, Marla Shapiro Inc.
  5. Connie Clerici, President & Chief Executive Officer, Closing the Gap Healthcare Group

About Women of Influence
Women of Influence Inc. is North America’s leading organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women. It offers solutions to women through corporate consulting on Gender Intelligence, professional coaching, events, and media.  It produces and hosts the renowned Deloitte Women of Influence Luncheon Series, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards and the Top 25 Women of Influence, in addition to the publishing the Women of Influence quarterly magazine. Women of Influence has a community and reach of 120,000 in nine cities across North American including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, New York City, andWashington, DC. For more information, please visit www.womenofinfluence.ca.

SOURCE Women of Influence Inc.

 For further information:or for interview requests, please contact:

Caleigh Alleyne
Media Assistant at Women of Influence Inc.

McKinsey & Company's Women Matter

McKinsey’s Women Matter research explores the role women play in the global workplace. In this video, McKinsey partners Joanna Barsh, Sandrine Devillard, Emily Lawson and Jin Wang recount the progress women have made in reaching the executive suite.

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