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What happens when Canada’s Most Powerful Women get together?

What happens when Canada's Most Powerful Women get together?
Blog Post: Jen Schaeffers, Founder, NetworkinginVan

I'm not afraid of storms,
for I'm learning to sail my ship.

~ Louisa May Alcott ~

This quote resonates with me because I feel like I am still learning to sail my ship, I feel like I will always be learning – which is why I get very excited when the Women's Executive Network rolls into town. On February 1st, I had the awesome privilege of attending the WXN Top 100 Summit at the Four Seasons Hotel. The Top 100 Summit brings together many of the winners of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada Award, talk about a room full of inspiration and women who kick butt. I am in awe of their accomplishments, grit and wealth of knowledge they share so willingly.

With over 160 attendees, it was a packed room. Many familiar faces took in the day including: @jearthy, @judybrooks, @lisamartinint, @devsdevelopment, @cynthiaroney and more.

The opening panel began with Audrey Ho, Former SVP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary for TELUS, Tracy Redies, President & CEO, Coast Capital Savings and  Tamara Vrooman, President & CEO, Vancity sharing their insights about leadership. I was inspired to find out that Tamara Vrooman had invited along her eight year old son for the lunch part of the day. I feel this is so important – let's show these guys at a young age just how powerful and accomplished women can be.

Breakout sessions then ensued and I selected: Influential Leadership and Women Breaking Ground.

Question: In your view, what should companies do to encourage women in Senior Positions

Answers:

  • Have a diverse leadership team. Research has shown that companies with greater diversity at the top outperform others, year after year.
  • Make a conscience decision to focus on having a diverse leadership team. Talk the talk and walk the walk.
  • Provide opportunities for development, networking and sponsorship.
  • A company needs to be proud enough to say they endorse a diverse leadership team.
  • Change the culture in your company by your own behaviour.
  • Encourage women to get front line, on the ground experience (even international) – will help make pathway to the top.

Your credibility in an organization is vital – and this is often based on your book of business. Find out what the organization values most – and do that. Build your credibility FIRST and then raise your hand for other opportunities.

SHOCKER MOMENT:

Did you know that only 1.29% of CEO's in Canada are Women???

I knew it was low, but I didn't realize it was this low. Some tips from CEO of Vancity, Tamara Vrooman (which have helped her to reach the top of her career):

  • Be at the table, you must be present and heard.
  • Take on a project that no one wants, and then hit it out of the park.
  • Tell people what you really think – don't always tell them what they want to hear.

I highly encourage both young women starting off in their career, mid-level management and executives to consider becoming a member of the Women's Executive Network. I have had the pleasure of completing their Top 100 Mentorship Program and it has helped me tremendously both personally and professionally.

Their next two events in Vancouver are:

March 15, 2012 (Terminal City Club, 7:30 am) – A caffeinated look at leadership from our Top 100 Award Winners
April 24, 2012 (Terminal City Club, 7:30 am) – Why It's Good to Fail

You do not have to be a member to attend, so check out these fantastic professional development + networking opportunities. I always walk away from them learning at least three new things and meeting three new fantastic women.

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One Response to What happens when Canada’s Most Powerful Women get together?

  1. Ekaterina February 14, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Jen,

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights and experience from the WXN Top 100 Summit. Truly appreciate that!

    I am touched by your moment of shock and would like to share some suggestions from an inner perspective because what is going on within us is very crucial.

    1. First of all, we need to give ourselves permission to be where we want to be.

    2. We need to value ourselves even if we make mistakes or something doesn’t happen a certain way.

    3. Shift from thinking “it is hard” to “how can I? how can this be easy?” makes a huge difference!

    Sincerely,

    Ekaterina

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