The Role of Mentorship in Creating More Female Tech Leaders

By | Member Stories | No Comments
line with WNORTH logo

As a leader, what can you do to help women in the tech industry succeed? How can you bridge the digital divide and lift others with you as you reach new heights?

Many women in leadership are asking these questions. After all, despite the myriad of life-changing technological advancements, a lack of female leaders in tech remains outdated. And although the percentage of women in senior IT leadership positions grew from 21% to 24% between 2018 and 2019, recent figures showed that women still have a small overall share of IT leadership jobs. Women account for only 16% of senior-level tech jobs and 10% of executive positions. This indicates that there are still significant gender gaps in tech leadership positions.

Of course, overcoming gender biases must be rooted in women who exhibit competence for the role. Large tech organizations seeking executive leadership candidates expect you to be able to apply the key tenets of organizational leadership in a very effective manner. This is because leadership tasks expect you to devise effective goals and develop policies that will progress the organization to greater heights in an already competitive tech industry. However, educational background alone is not enough to equip leaders for this daunting role. Any individual who wants to attain a top executive position must have additional mentorship experience to ensure they have well-rounded skills, regardless of gender.

In this article, we will discuss the status of mentorship programs for women in the tech industry and look into how to develop a female-focused training project that will help you retain and support your women talent.

Why Are Mentorships for Women Important?

Having a reliable mentor in the workplace helps you learn the tasks and responsibilities of the job quickly. This is because you get the chance to be exposed to real-life situations, allowing you to apply your skills and knowledge in solving them. If you’ve been mentored before taking a leadership position, you can consider yourself lucky since not everyone has mentors to guide them, especially women in tech.

A study on gender diversity in STEM disciplines revealed that 48% of women in tech felt that the lack of female mentors was one of the biggest barriers at work. In addition, 42% thought there was a lack of female role models in their workplace. These results are concerning because female mentors and role models can have a powerful impact on the feeling of belonging in the workplace, particularly in a male-dominated industry.

How Can Mentorship Programs Support Women in Tech?

If mentorship programs are available for female employees, the chances of more women entering the field and achieving leadership roles will increase. This is evident in an article on successful mentoring of women, which claimed that mentoring increased the retention rates of female employees and elevated their success in obtaining promotions at work. Moreover, mentorships helped them minimize their feelings of isolation and contributed to increased self-confidence and work engagement.

In fact, a survey from a Forbes article shared that 89% of women who participated in mentoring schemes felt empowered by the experience. It just shows that fostering positive feelings through mentoring in your workplace is a factor in encouraging and creating more female leaders in the tech industry.

How Can You Develop Female-Focused Mentorship Programs?

Developing an effective mentorship program requires you to consider your target demographic since this will help you create a suitable project that addresses the needs and characteristics of the mentees.

When designing a female-focused mentorship program, you must remember to involve your junior female employees in the discussion. Because who knows more about their struggles in the workplace than they do? Besides involving your employees, here are other tips you can do to develop a successful female-focused program:

  • Define your program’s goals and expectations.
    By doing so, you can start your program on a clear and strong foundation. This will make it easier for other women to know about your efforts.

  • Find and match potential mentors with mentees.
    Just having a mentor is not enough. For women to flourish, it’s important that your mentorship program take personalities and nuances into consideration.

  • Evaluate the impact of your program.
    Regular evaluations are crucial to ensure that your initiatives are reaching their goals. Through these you can continue to fine-tune your program and enhance your relevance.

Should You Mentor Your Fellow Colleagues?

Lastly, it’s worth considering having women leaders like you mentor junior women team members. Being mentored by women in senior positions allows female employees to realize from the start that gender has no bearing on business acumen.

This realization from early on in their careers gives women a broader and more rounded perspective, which is an advantage for growing their careers.

Similarly, in our recent interview with Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu, we shared more about the importance of connecting with fellow women leaders. This was specifically important for Esther, as she shares the lessons she has learned herself to help other women accelerate their careers and break through the glass ceiling.

As a woman leading in your field, you can also impact the mindset of female employees by being an example of a woman succeeding in tech.

Ultimately, mentoring your women colleagues in the tech industry will not only disrupt the male-dominated sector, it will also open opportunities for them to grow and lead in the profession they love, inspiring younger women to pursue a career in the field, too.

Jennifer Birch Author WNORTH

About the author

Jacquie Beller is a freelance writer and women activist. She believes that women have the power to become outstanding leaders in the corporate world. Today, she continuously writes articles about women’s empowerment to inspire fellow women to chase their passions.

How To Build Your Network When You Work From Home: Advice From Highly Successful Women Leaders

By | Member Stories | No Comments
line with WNORTH logo

I’ve grown to believe that networking is the lifeblood of career success. However, working from home requires us to lean on virtual connections instead of physical ones common in the office. So, how can we rebuild our work relations and forge new ones in 2022?

If you’ve noticed your network shrinking, you’re not alone. Harvard Business Review released shocking statistics on how the pandemic affected our close relationships. After five months without an in-person gathering, feelings of connection and closeness between friends plummet by 80%.

Now, imagine your professional relationships. A Yale study revealed a reduced network size of roughly 16% in 2021, or more than 200 people during the pandemic.

For many of us, pre-2020, we used events and conferences as a forum to meet new business connections, develop business opportunities and facilitate powerful introductions. The events industry went through a pandemic-induced technology boom, with hundreds of new software options hitting the market that assist with the networking aspect of virtual events. However, virtual events have not quite filled the void of in-person networking.  

You’ll have to get creative if you want to boost your contact list this year. The question is, how do women leaders at the top of their field build and maintain strong professional networks while working from home? I reached out to four highly successful women leaders to find out.

Pay It Forward

One of the most powerful ways to develop new connections is being a virtual matchmaker and paying it forward to someone in your network whom you highly respect. 

“Earlier this year, I focused on using my social platforms to spread recognition and impactful stories,” said Quyen Chang, Global Head of Revenue Enablement at Airbnb. “In March, during Women’s History Month, I shared daily appreciation posts of amazing women. Each day, I shared a story of gratitude to women who have impacted me. I am beyond lucky to have some of the best role models in my work and personal life.”

She encouraged those in her network to connect with the women she featured, and the effect spurred hundreds of new connections. Moreover, the campaign inspired similar movements throughout her network and beyond. 

Build Trust Slow And Steady

April Hicke, Director of Product Operations at ATB Financial, started her new role in 2021, in the middle of the pandemic. This situation made it even more challenging to make new connections. “Studies show it takes three times as long to build connections virtually,” April shared. “As we say goodbye to the days of office chit-chatting and mingling, we have to be present, vulnerable, and intentional about creating time and space for our network.”

What does it mean? Whether you may be starting a role at a new company or simply trying to develop new connections, April believes it’s critical to look at virtual networking as a long-haul game. Otherwise, you risk getting lost in the sea of invitations to connect. What works for me is learning more about the person before adding them on LinkedIn. Dive into their recent posts. Engaging with them directly before clicking the “connect” button works wonders. 

Think Beyond Borders

Before the pandemic halted Carmen Bryant‘s hectic travel schedule, she often lamented about missing certain events in her home city of New York. “Being remote has truly globalized networking,” says Carmen, Director of US Marketing at Indeed.com. “I’ve expanded and stretched my network in less laborious ways than before the pandemic.” 

Those in more remote regions have also benefited from the globalization of networking through online events. Personally, I live two hours outside of a major city with two small children. Even before the pandemic, attending networking events in person had become more and more difficult. The normalization of virtual networking allowed me to double the size of my network in the past two years.

Choose Virtual Events Designed For Networking

Prior 2020, virtual networking was not a popular or common way to meet like-minded professionals. However, these events have grown in popularity in the last years.

“One of the ways to find new connections is through membership communities,” said Natalie Taylor, Senior Lead, Learning Strategy & Operations at Shopify. “These organizations take all the guesswork out of networking and provide a safe space and platform for connections to happen naturally.”

To build quality connections, it’s essential to seek international forums and virtual events where networking is facilitated — events people attend intending to build connections. More than two-thirds of virtual attendees go to an event intending to learn versus network, so select events that call out the opportunity to build your network. Be mindful of the variety of virtual events and choose one that meets your objective to network. 

Seek Connections Through Volunteering

Companies serious about developing and retaining their top talent must consider how they can best support their employees. This includes opportunities to establish new connections to maintain a healthy network during the pandemic. A healthy and supportive community should be considered an essential part of professional development, especially to ensure the career advancement of remote workers. 

Companies can also support their employees’ volunteer experience. These contributions allow like-minded individuals to connect based on their passions and interests.

“Some of the best connections I’ve built were by seeking out volunteer opportunities and events with boards, committees, and organizations that align with your values,” says April Hicke. 

In 2022, building your network won’t necessarily come naturally (or easily, for that matter). Still, engaging and utilizing some of these suggestions will result and form valuable and authentic relationships. 

Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu - GrowthQ - Supporting Underrepresented Overachievers through full spectrum wellness at work

Supporting Underrepresented Overachievers Through Full Spectrum Wellness At Work – Interview with Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu

By | Member Stories

Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu has been the backbone of the WNORTH community and one of our Founding Members. Esther’s energy is easily spotted in the crowd. Former NFL and NBA professional dancer, Esther’s background boasts 16 years in Tech across roles in Sales, Business Development, and Product Management. 

In March 2022, she posted a surprising update on her LinkedIn profile; “I did a thing! I’m putting on new stilettos as an entrepreneur.”

Esther has turned her burnout recovery into a mission to help underrepresented professionals feel empowered in the tech industry. She founded GrowthQ to make tech sales careers more accessible for diverse communities, weaving in wellness best practices and burnout prevention.

We sat down with Esther to find out how she transitioned from the corporate world into becoming a full-time entrepreneur and what we learned can help many women and people of color who are dealing with the challenges of burnout.

Esther, congratulations on taking the leap and founding your startup! What inspired you to do that?

I had two reasons to take the leap. Burnout and realizing the depth of true wellness at work. Women and working mothers were experiencing burnout at dramatic rates during the pandemic. In the UK alone, one in five mothers has quit their jobs over poor parental leave policies. In the US, a recent Forbes article cited Black Women aging 7.5 years greater than their peers due to Burnout from stress, microaggressions, and inequity in pay. Burnout is more real now than ever and costly to companies. 

My experience was no different. Though my career was accelerating and I enjoyed my work, the isolation of the pandemic coupled with a traumatic health experience took me over my limits into burnout. 

Why did you choose to leave the corporate world?

At the end of 2020, I suffered a 2nd Trimester pregnancy loss, which only happens to 2-3% of expecting mothers. I went back to work about a week and a half later, hiding it from those who weren’t close to me. 6 months later, I was rushed to a hospital with what was thought to be a heart attack. After an extensive cardiac workup, my doctors confirmed it was a panic attack, which has almost identical symptoms, and your endocrine system reacts in the exact same manner. My body finally said, “Esther, It’s time.” 

Thankfully, the company I’d worked for at the time was incredibly committed to the wellness of all employees. My boss, my team, and my peers were all highly supportive and helped me have the space I needed to take a step back and heal. 

During my time off, I researched technology that could help me measure all levers of my body, from measuring my sleep with a wearable to using my breath to measure my metabolism. I also spent introspective time rediscovering my ethos, clarifying my superpowers, and writing a new narrative for how I wanted to spend my life. It’s funny how a dose of mortality will redirect your focus to what’s most important. I’d realized I was working so hard, spending time doing things I was great at, and thus others wanted me to do more of but weren’t part of my life’s mission. I needed to rewrite the narrative of my career to fit with my ethos and superpowers.

I’d realized I was working so hard, spending time doing things I was great at, and thus others wanted me to do more of but weren’t part of my life’s mission. I needed to rewrite the narrative of my career to fit with my ethos and superpowers.

How has your burnout recovery shaped the mission of your business?

I heard a quote once that said, “You’re best poised to serve the person you once were.” I recognized an opportunity to share my story and create solutions to problems I’ve faced. Looking back, I needed two things: First, tools and support to help me navigate my physical and mental health to be in the best position to optimize my performance. And second, a support system to help me navigate this new high-performance lifestyle.

This drove the birth of my company, GrowthQ. We are committed to closing the wage and wellness gaps for underrepresented high performers who want to do their best work in careers that showcase their superpowers. We do this by offering three things: 

  • Educational Content in full spectrum wellness: physical wellness, financial wellness, and job readiness
  • Human connection through intelligent mentor matching 
  • Diverse talent placement as fractional interview panelists or full-time roles

 

What other initiatives are you working on right now?

Outside of my work on GrowthQ, I’ve been getting deeper into investing in early-stage startups. Closest to my heart has been my Mentor Cohort which is a month-long intensive where I personally mentor and pour my experiences into Women and People of Color who may feel they have hit a glass ceiling. We focus on breaking limiting beliefs, identifying superpowers, and accelerating careers with the lessons I’ve learned over two decades.

Can you share some advice for women who found themselves at career crossroads?

  1. Build your Board of Advisors as a support system for your career. Your Board of Advisors should consist of a coach, mentor, sponsor, and peer group. Knowing the difference between each of those is important to empower them to support you.

  2. Listen to when or if your body tells you it’s burned out or uncomfortable. If you feel triggered, channel what your body is trying to tell you. Fear is a gift, it informs you ahead of pain or absence of safety. Jealousy is a gift, it’s informing you of something you desire but don’t yet have. Pay attention to your inner voice. It shows you your purpose and where to go.

  3. Financial wellness unlocks creative freedom and confidence. 77% of working professionals making a solid living struggle with financial anxiety. Can you believe that? And that’s not from not having enough, it’s often just from the intimidation of financial literacy. I was no different. Moving from a corporate role to being an entrepreneur forced me to become much more financially literate, but honestly, I didn’t have to wait until now. There are immense amounts of free, simple, and non-intimidating resources to help you learn the basics. Making small changes to your financial wellness does wonder for your confidence to focus on your superpowers. 

Overall, there’s never been a better time to try new things and build muscles to get back on the wagon. If you’re uncomfortable with the space you’re in right now, you can use this opportunity, fear, and discomfort to channel yourself into your purpose.

line with WNORTH logo
  • Find a Mentor or Mentee at GrowthQ.co
  • Looking for tech sales talent or diverse interview panelists to help you hire the best? Connect with us at GrowthQ.co
  • Woman in business looking to elevate her career? Join Esther’s next Mentor Cohort; all participants receive a scholarship for a 1-year membership to WNorth Leadership. Contact iva@wnorthconnect.com

ABOUT

Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu

Esther Ayorinde-Iyamu - GrowthQ - Supporting Underrepresented Overachievers through full spectrum wellness at work

Esther Ayorinde Iyamu is Founder of GrowthQ, the Match.com for mentorship, diverse interviewers-aaS, and tech sales talent. Esther also recently joined as General Partner for VC firm, 1Flourish. Esther is a 16 year Silicon Valley tech veteran, a 7 year NFL and NBA Dancer, and investor known for her wellness advocacy, her connected tech industry network, and her Go-To-Market expertise. Esther was recognized as Diversity Women Magazine’s Power 100 executives and The Network Journal’s 40 Under 40 list. She was the first Black Dance Captain in franchise history of the New York Jets and started her first startup at 19 years old in her dorm room at Santa Clara University. As a Tech Sales thought leader, Esther has been a featured guest lecturer at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Santa Rosa Community College as well as a guest speaker at companies like Facebook, Gong, Snowflake, Cisco, Clozd, and Braze. Her new company, GrowthQ is dedicated to helping close the wage and wellness gaps for underrepresented tech talent by succeeding in a career in tech sales.

A woman smiling while looking at a laptop and writing.

How Women Can Spearhead the Tech Industry Through Coding Bootcamps

By | Blog, Featured

Tech careers are fast-growing careers that everyone wants to know how to get into. Coding bootcamps aim to upskill students’ tech knowledge to prepare them for careers in the tech industry. Women are disenfranchised in the male-dominated tech industry. There’s a glass wall that can feel impenetrable. There are also not a lot of inclusive opportunities for women to feel empowered to learn about the tech industry.

Coding bootcamps are a perfect opportunity for women who want to start building their careers at a low cost. You should also know that there are different options for everyone’s convenience, such as in-person, online classes, full-time, and part-time programs.

What is a Coding Bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is an intensive training program where you gain practical knowledge by developing real-world projects. These programs teach a variety of technology-related topics, such as web development, data science, and cyber security.

Coding bootcamps offer training where you can develop the technical skills necessary to go out into the labor market and get your first job in the technology industry. The programs are taught by industry professionals who share their experiences and knowledge to help you achieve success in this new career choice.

Ways a Coding Bootcamp will help you launch your new Tech Career

Student outcomes tend to indicate that companies rely on bootcamp graduates to hire for entry-level jobs with high opportunities for advancement into new positions. Here are some of the ways coding bootcamps can help you launch your new tech career.

In addition, the salaries obtained in these jobs are in line with those reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in this area. Furthermore, according to PayScale, the average salary of a software engineer is around $88,653. This means that these types of careers are in-demand with high compensations.

Hands-on Practices

During the classes, you’ll be able to put into practice the knowledge you have learned. With various exercises of varying difficulty, you’ll get practice and consolidate your knowledge to then apply it to problem-solving in the projects you’re assigned.

The teachers explain by giving real-life examples of problem-solving and best practices. In this way, you’ll be able to perform your assignments correctly. In addition, you’ll be able to develop the projects and receive feedback, help, and advice at any time from your teachers and guides.

Project Portfolio

At the end of the program, you’ll have managed to develop a variety of real-life projects that’ll help you showcase your work and skills. This way you’ll demonstrate that you have experience, as you’ll be able to send your portfolio of projects to potential employers or clients.

Your first portfolio of work will be useful to get jobs as a freelancer. It’s a usual technique that professionals in the tech industry use to showcase their work and potential to develop challenging projects.

Fast-paced Programs

Bootcamp programs are designed to be completed in a short time, on average about six months if it’s a full-time program. Furthermore, most coding bootcamps offer part-time programs so that students who have a job can take these types of programs. Part-time programs can last up to one year.

These fast-paced programs offer a curriculum based on learning skills and practical knowledge that will prepare you to get a job quickly. Coding bootcamps like Flatiron School provides efficient courses to gear you up for entry-level tech jobs.

Coding bootcamps are an excellent opportunity for women to kickstart a career in the tech industry.

Ways a Coding Bootcamp will help you launch your new Tech Career

Bootcamps offer programs mostly in technology areas. Although initially, bootcamps used to offer programs only in computer sciences, nowadays, the topics have diversified to other areas. Below you’ll see some of the programs that are mostly offered:

  • Web design
  • Software engineering
  • Data science
  • Cyber security
  • UX/UI design
  • Digital marketing
  • Product management
  • Quality assurance engineering

Conclusion

Attending a coding bootcamp offers women the opportunity to meet with many professionals in the technology industry. Both the professors and your classmates will be your network of contacts who can open many doors for you upon graduation, and who could end up being your coworkers.

You’ll end up forming a network of contacts thanks to events such as conferences, lectures, and fairs. In addition, during the program, you’ll have the help of career services to advise and guide you on the path to success in your professional career, and to help you enhance your profile to start looking for your first job.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AJ Condez, from Manila, Philippines, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy from AMA Computer College. He has also taken courses from Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Previously, he worked as a content manager for New Wave Media, handling WordPress websites, publishing SEO-friendly content, and supervising teams of writers and editors. He has also written content for SEO sites and his personal website. At Career Karma, AJ hopes to provide up-to-date information to deliver beneficial content to help readers start new careers. In his free time, AJ enjoys reading, journaling, and playing board games.
How to support your team during Ukraine war and world conflicts

How To Support Your Team During Difficult World Events

By | Blog, WNORTH News
– Article inspired by a Community Letter shared by Manpreet Dhillon, CEO & Founder of Veza Global 


As the whole world watches the conflict in Ukraine unfold, it’s impossible to ignore the effect it has had on people across the globe. Understandably, the Russia-Ukraine war is causing concerns about the impact of this attack for many of us. We also know that these events can trigger hopelessness and PTSD for some members of our community.

During these difficult and uncertain times, employers should be aware of the toll the war and their actions may have on their employees. 

In the times of war, combined with the ongoing Great Resignation, this is your time to show that your workplace works for your staff, too – not just the other way round. This article focuses on what you can do as an individual to lead through complex world events.

What can you do to support your organization and team members?

Recognize signs of distress in your team members

In the wake of the attack, people experience different reactions, and there should be no shame in finding it difficult to return to a regular routine.

It is important to remember that those experiencing the shock of an attack may not function normally until the attack passes. Some people experience heightened emotions, irritability, exhaustion, or physical symptoms, while others may navigate through the experience a little easier. There’s no right or wrong in how we respond.

Check in with the individuals who may have family members in the regions of the world that are impacted. They may be worried about the safety of their family members. They also may be reminded of past wars that may bring up old memories, so it is important to show them support through these times. 

Create a psychologically safe environment to share experiences and feelings

Be aware that team members may have opposing political views towards the mainstream view in the office. Please give them a safe space to express their views and opinions, too. Work with managers and their teams to not exclude them for differing viewpoints.

This is an opportunity to foster an inclusive culture to help your employees feel supported, including stressing out your anti-discrimination policies.

When a disagreement occurs, show compassion and support. This can be done through virtual team meetings, followed by one-on-one discussions with individual employees who are directly involved and other employees in the organization to keep them informed about your efforts to resolve the conflict.

Lead the conversation to show your support

Understand the productivity of individuals may be a little lower as the situation unfolds. They may need to discuss and acknowledge what is happening in team meetings. Lead the discussion. Bring up the topic by asking people how they feel about what is happening. Give them an outlet to express their fears and concerns.

You can decide to establish a temporary support group for your workers to dedicate time to connect regularly and address the situation as it unfolds. 

Alternatively, you can decide where it’s possible to allow flexibility and an altered approach to deliverables or deadlines to avoid burnout or work-related stress.

WNORTH's Response

Like the rest of the world, WNORTH is appalled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Our hearts go out to all victims of the attack.

“Every day, I feel the impact of the horror that Ukrainians are going through right now. As I navigate my day, I can’t help but worry about what happens next. I don’t have relatives in Ukraine, but most of my family resides only one, some two borders away from Ukraine, and are doing what they can to support – either through donations, or directly those who seek refuge around them. Some of my friends invited Ukrainian women and children to their homes. If each of us can do even one small thing, I hope it will make a difference for those who suffer,” shared Iva, our MarComms Manager.

We invite you to support one of the verified fundraising campaign for Ukraine, as shared below.

  • Canadian Red Cross: the local wing of an international emergency-relief organization. The federal government says it will match individual donations by Canadians.
  • Doctors Without Borders: a humanitarian group that’s been supporting Ukraine’s response.
  • Canada-Ukraine Foundation: a Toronto-based group that co-ordinates Canadian charitable aid to Ukraine.
  • Save the Children: an international NGO delivering emergency aid to Ukrainian families.
  • Voices of Children: offers psychological support to children affected by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
  • Come Back Alive Foundation: a Ukrainian NGO that supports veterans and co-organizes the Invictus Games in Ukraine.
  • Phoenix Wings: a charitable foundation that supplies the Ukrainian army with medical treatment and defensive equipment such as vests and helmets.
  • Revived Soldiers Ukraine: a non-profit that funds medical rehabilitation for Ukrainian soldiers.
  • Razom for Ukraine: a pro-democracy group that’s fundraising for medical supplies in Ukraine.
  • Kyiv Independent: a Ukraine-based, English-language independent news media outlet.

Heather Odendaal of WNORTH named a Report on Business magazine Changemaker for 2022 by The Globe and Mail

By | WNORTH News

Changemakers is an editorial award program produced by Report on Business magazine at The Globe and Mail. It intends to showcase the emerging leaders transforming business today.

WNORTH is pleased to announce that founder Heather Odendaal has been named a top 50 Changemaker of 2022 by Report on Business magazine.

“Since its inception in 2015, my mission with WNORTH has been to have those tough conversations with leaders about nurturing the leadership pipeline and build out adequate support structures for working parents, female-identifying individuals, and people of colour,” says Odendaal. “The challenges affecting women from advancing to senior executive leadership were clearly highlighted over the course of the pandemic. It’s an honour to work in this space to provide women with the educational tools, virtual events, membership platform, and resources for them to keep pushing forward on their career trajectories”.

Changemakers were selected by The Globe and Mail’s award-winning editorial team for their ideas, accomplishments, and impact, as determined by their nominations, subsequent interviews, and reference checks.

“The world is facing more challenges than ever before – climate change, racial discrimination, income inequality, not to mention the pandemic,” says Dawn Calleja, editor of Report on Business magazine. “So it’s heartening to meet this year’s crop of 50 Changemakers, who are searching for solutions to many of these problems and offering some inspiration.”

Editorial coverage of all 2022 Changemakers can be found in the March 2022 issue of Report on Business magazine, distributed with The Globe and Mail on Saturday, February 26th, and online now at tgam.ca/Changemakers.

About The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s foremost news media company, leading the national discussion and causing policy change through brave and independent journalism since 1844. 

With our award-winning coverage of business, politics, and national affairs, The Globe and Mail newspaper reaches 6.3 million readers every week in our print or digital formats, and Report on Business magazine reaches 2.3 million readers in print and digital every issue. 

Our investment in innovative data science means that as the world continues to change, so does The Globe. The Globe and Mail is owned by Woodbridge, the investment arm of the Thomson family.

About WNORTH

WNORTH is North America’s premier organization dedicated to developing women on a trajectory towards senior executive leadership. WNORTH connects top female business leaders in corporate, public, and entrepreneurial sectors through The Members’ Club (application-based membership), which provides a 100% Virtual forum for online content and development opportunities, including workshops, leadership masterminds, events, and courses, in-person member meetups and events in 10+ cities and the 7th annual WNORTH Conference in Whistler, Canada taking place April 27-29, 2022.

WNORTH was named Innovative Business of the Year 2021 at the Whistler Excellence Awards. BizBash recognized the WNORTH Virtual Conference as one of the top 10 Most Innovative Meetings 2021 and Best Networking/Matchmaking Platform in their Event Experience Awards.

WNORTH Conference in Whistler British Columbia Canada

The Impact Of Boutique-Style Conferences On Building New Leadership Models

By | WNORTH News

“We need a new playbook that sees people again—that sees above and beyond profits.”
– Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO & founder, Chobani; founder, Tent Partnership for Refugees

Like an arrow, women are uniquely positioned for upward momentum, but the pullback is great. The past year has opened more eyes to the climate crisis, heightened inequality, and failures of governance in emergency response – and minority communities took the hardest hit. 

The 2022 Annual Report Card on Gender Diversity and Leadership shares that in Canada alone, women represent 41.9% of Senior Management roles and slightly more than half of the Pipeline to Senior Management roles (54.8%). 

In sharp comparison, women hold 23.4% of Corporate Director roles and 18.2% of Executive Officer roles of TSX-listed companies that provide disclosure as of July 31, 2021.

We are aware of the gender power gap and unequal access to opportunities for women leaders. The real question remains; “What has a proven record of igniting change?”

In this article, you’ll learn the impact that boutique-style gatherings have on making a tangible difference for women in the workplace.

Addressing the lack of accessible platforms

As we’re witnessing the post-pandemic return of in-person meetings, one challenge persists – the lack of accessible conferences for women’s leadership.

In 2015, Heather Odendaal, the Founder of WNORTH, worked as a Sales Executive for a Fortune 500 company. She looked for an opportunity to elevate her leadership game, navigate to her career, and double down on her confidence. 

To her surprise, finding such a platform turned out to be more complicated than it would seem. But, the lack of global women’s leadership conferences wasn’t the only problem. The accessibility of the existing ones turned out to be a more significant issue. 

When Heather’s application to a global women’s leadership conference, which was also out of her financial reach, was denied, she was left disappointed and out of options. 

Instead of giving up, she decided to fill in the gap and launched the WNORTH organization. Its first boutique-style conference took place in Whistler, Canada, bringing together global leaders business professionals and inspiring women to disrupt barriers that women face in the workplace.

WNORTH Conference 2022

Building A Greater Impact

Large-scale conferences have been around for a while now. They are commonly structured with an agenda, speeches, networking events, and lounges.

Yet, there’s an important drawback to be considered: because of their scale, these events leave little room for meaningful networking opportunities, tailored experiences, and learning that comes mainly from the exchange with experienced professionals.

On the contrary, boutique-style conferences set the tone of community building in a small setting where everyone feels comfortable to connect. Boutique-style conferences are increasing in popularity. Due to their size, they offer more intimate engagements for those who truly want to gain greater business skills and make an impact.

WNORTH Conference in Whistler British Columbia Canada

Promoting Bold Collaboration

When people talk about female leadership, they’re giving the impression that this is only something that matters to women. This goes back to the “women’s problem” or “women’s issue” mindset. 

Fighting the gender power imbalance isn’t a female-only problem. Everyone has the responsibility to catalyze a new leadership model that is inclusive, transparent, urgent, and boldly collaborative – one that places humanity at its heart. 

When we support the brilliance of women’s leaders, it benefits not only themselves but also the families they lead, the teams they manage, and the communities they serve.

We invite you to join the 7th-Annual WNORTH Conference in person or virtually, to engage with visionary speakers, industry experts, and diverse delegates for a powerful agenda surrounding this year’s theme of The New Leadership Playbook for an Inclusive Economy, that will profoundly change your perspective on the future of leadership.

The Conference will return for its 7th installment April 27-29, 2022, in a Hybrid format, in-person in Whistler, and virtually streamed worldwide.

WNORTH Announces the Return of Its Seventh-Annual Conference, Sponsored by SAP

By | WNORTH News

The 2022 WNORTH Conference promises inspirational hybrid programming ranging from panels, workshops, and an opening reception to high-level training and networking opportunities surrounding this year’s theme of The New Leadership Playbook for an Inclusive Economy.

Confirmed speakers include Shannon Platz, Global Vice President, Platform Solutions at SAP (live); Dr. Chitra Anand, Author of “The Greenhouse Approach” (live); Mita Mallick, Head of Inclusion, Equity, and Impact at Carta (virtual); Emily Chang, CEO, China at McCann Worldgroup (virtual); Amy Nelson, Founder of The Riveter (virtual); Dr. Roselle M. Gonsalves, Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at ATB Financial (in-person); Jenn Harper, CEO and Founder of Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics (virtual); Ashley Freeborn, Founder of Smash + Tess (virtual); Jane Stoller, Founder of Organized Jane and Author (in-person); and Hitha Palepu, Author of “We’re Speaking: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris” (live). Read More

Women, It’s Time To Invest Your Money To Build Wealth – Interview with Janine Rogan

By | Member Stories

Meet Janine Rogan, a CPA, Financial Advisor, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, and Financial Educator based in Calgary. A valued member of the WNORTH community, Janine established a niche in helping women become financially independent through financial education and training.

Passionate about coaching women on their financial matters, Janine has over half a million dollars invested, and works with women who want to grow their wealth to achieve their financial goals, such as retirement planning, investing for long-term growth, and managing a growing portfolio.

I had the opportunity to talk with Janine about her approach to helping women become financially independent, and the key financial lessons that she teaches her clients.

Hi Janine! Tell us a bit about yourself, where did your journey start, and where it is now?

My journey started during my studies at the University of Alberta. My friend lent me the book “The Automatic Millionaire,” which piqued my interest in personal finance on the notion that your money could make money for you. Since that point, I started doing a lot of research by myself because there was a lack of resources.

Fast-forward to the present. I’m passionate about building educational tools for women to learn how to build wealth. It’s something that people don’t talk about enough. 

Women, in general, aren’t encouraged to invest their money. Considering the fact that white women are paid 84 cents on the dollar for the same work as men, whereas women of color get only 62 cents – plus, women live longer than men – we have to start educating and empowering women to invest as one of the tools to close the Gender Gap.

Let’s talk about “Financial Feminism.” What is it, and what makes you passionate about it?

To me, the core of Financial Feminism means financial equality for all. Feminism means equality between sexes, which I want to see from the economic perspective. 

Sometimes, we forget that financial management is not just about saving more or spending less. As a society, we have to address many issues to get to the point where we can treat men and women equally when it comes to their finances.

What, in your opinion, are some common mistakes that women make when it comes to their money decisions?

The common mistake is that women don’t talk enough about money, and they don’t invest enough. One of the societal misconceptions is that we need to save more money for women to provide for their children. 

Specifically with the increasing cost of living and inflation, it’s dangerous to leave a lot of money sitting in your bank. You should have an emergency fund, but you’re never going to reach your financial goals by simply saving money.

Have you ever been guilty of any money management mistakes? If so, which ones?

Of course! I made a lot of mistakes, and I still make mistakes sometimes. For example, early on, I didn’t understand the Contribution Room reset limit for the TFSA – it resets every January 1st. I thought you could pull money in and out as you please. And then, I received a letter from the CRA saying that I’d gone over my contribution limit and had to pay a fine. I remember being like, “Oh God, I shouldn’t be making mistakes like this. I should have known that.”

One other mistake from when I was getting started was not understanding investing in general. I pretty much just trusted the guy at the bank to do it for me. And that was a mistake. A couple of years later, I realized that those investments were not in line with what I wanted to have in my portfolio.

Where is a good place to start with investment?

Education is the foundation for everything, from books to educational content shared online. There are a lot of free resources available, whether it’s on YouTube or Instagram, or Facebook groups.

It might seem overwhelming, but I want to caution everyone – you don’t have to go from 0 to 100 in one day. Try to learn one thing at a time, whether learning how to set up an automatic savings transfer or following a Finance Coach on Instagram. One thing at a time will help you move forward.

I teach an investment course called The Wealth Lab, where I walk women through how to start investing. I cover investing from the very basics, like what is a stock, what is a bond, what is a TFSA, all the way to executing your first trade.

Can you tell us more about The Wealth Lab course?

Yes! It’s a 6 module, 40 + lesson course that walks you through everything from the basics of investing to creating a profitable, safe, and sustainable investment portfolio.

Many people are worried they’re going to lose all their money in the stock market, but the entire stock market would have to go to zero for that to happen. If it did, we’d have more significant problems as a society because money would lose all its value. It’s a very abstract concept, so I’d say – don’t worry about that and know that the stock market’s average return has been about 10% per year. So, if you’re not running close to that, it’s time to start looking into getting an investment education.

The Wealth Lab is there to walk you through easily digestible mini-lessons – you don’t have to sit there listening to me for an hour – unless you want to. The course provides you with worksheets, a Facebook support group, and live sessions with questions. I’m supporting participants every step of the way. 

You just recently released your TedX Talk! Tell me about it. It’s so exciting!

It was super exciting – and super nerve-wracking! I pitched TedX in 2019 on this topic. But due to the pandemic, all TEDx talks were postponed. At the end of 2020, I had my baby, and I still haven’t heard from them. And then I completely forgot about it!

Early 2021, they reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate – they loved the topic and thought it needed to be heard! It was a really exciting discussion. I enjoy talking about the issue of Millenials and Money. I am a Millennial myself, and we face different barriers in building wealth than our parents’ generation did.

I think that Millenials, and Gen-Z, too, often feel pressured to buy a house – because that’s what our parents did. And that’s not doable for everybody, and it’s also not always the way of how we can build and accumulate wealth as the next generation.

If you’re thinking about investing in real estate, there are other ways of doing it. Instead of investing all your cash into one asset – a house or a condo, you can invest in real estate investment trusts with companies like Addy Invest. These are trades in the same way as ETFs are. You can invest anything from $20 for a unit without building a million-dollar property.

I started looking into them and invested in two projects, one in Toronto and one in Calgary. They’re longer-term projects, it takes about two years to see a return, so I’m curious to see how it will go. 

You’ve got a one-year-old son at home. When do you think it’s a good time to start educating children about money, and how?

As parents, we have to be mindful that we talk to our children about money early on. I’ve seen many people NOT talk about money or think that their kids are not picking up on it, but kids are smart. If they see you always paying with this magic card at the store, they think that you can have anything you want for free. They don’t understand the concept of money, cash, and how you get it.

My good friend, Robin Taub, based in Toronto, has written a book called “The Wisest Investment,” which is all about teaching your kids about money. She breaks it down into what you should be teaching children at various stages of their childhood. It’s powerful and impactful. Start there.

Susan Steffens: After Losing My Job, WNORTH Was a Game Changer

By | Blog, Member Stories

Susan Steffens loved her job in the events industry. As she watched the pandemic unfolding and events canceling at a rapid rate, one thing was clear to her – the entire industry was going to take a harsh hit.

Early in spring of 2020 Susan unexpectedly lost her job that she was deeply devoted to. Losing your job is emotionally draining and devastating, but to go through it in the pandemic environment of heightened uncertainty adds additional stressors to the mix.

Susan’s story has a happy ending. Not only did she bounce back, but she also elevated her career, her leadership skills – all while finding a community of women that supported her through the difficult transition.

Susan is our inspiration – and so, we’ve decided to sit down with her to find out how she managed to make the shift over the past fifteen months.

Hi Susan! Tell us a bit more about who you are and what you do.

I am a Mom to two boys, I am a wife and I have a deep love for family, friends, music, and wine! I work in the live events industry as a Sales Director. I have worked in this industry for about 25 years – I can’t believe it, wow! My past position involved booking concerts, family shows, film, and trade shows into arenas, amphitheaters, and buildings.  I worked in the non-profit world for a few years as well, organizing fundraising events.

By far, the biggest professional challenge was being unexpectedly let go from a job that I loved and poured my heart and soul into.

I am now working back in the live events industry as it slowly ramps back up.

WNORTH Member Spotlight Susan Stefens events

What is your take on networking and building relationships through community memberships?

I have always loved networking in the business world. Connection means everything to me on so many levels.

This is actually only the second time I have been involved with a community membership.

I have found being a member in WNORTH has been so rewarding and inspiring to connect with like-minded people and generate ideas and have meaningful or poignant conversations.  

What is your experience with The Members’ Club at WNORTH?

An industry colleague told me about WNORTH a few years ago and she raved about the annual Whistler Conference.

During the pandemic, I was looking for connection and inspiration and it was important to me to connect with women specifically, so I decided to check out the first online conference (called Pivot). I found it inspiring, the speakers were so engaging and the range of topics was relatable and timely.  I was hooked!  I promptly signed up for an annual membership.

The advantages of the membership, especially during the pandemic and without a job, really helped me mentally by connecting with like-minded women. I felt like it was a safety net that provided me with inspiration and new ways to look at where I am on my path and how I want to define it going forward.  

Tell us a bit about the connections you’ve made inside of the membership - do any of them stand out?

The connections inside the membership have been fantastic.  Last winter, I was involved in the Leadership Mastermind Program with Deborah Stellingwerff as a facilitator.

We had such a wonderful group of talented, fun, honest, and supportive women, I was so excited for the weekly Zoom sessions and to explore where we were at individually and collectively.

Through these sessions, I decided I wanted to dig deeper and hired Deborah as a business and life coach and that has been a game-changer for me on both a personal and professional level over the last 6 months – I am truly grateful for the opportunity and connection!

What are some of the features of the membership that you enjoy the most?

Definitely, the Mastermind group is a wonderful and inspiring feature that I want to participate in again. 

Also, having the ability to go back into the WNORTH online library and experience some of the sessions that I am not able to attend in real-time is beneficial.  

I really appreciate the range of topics offered in the live sessions, I always leave them inspired. 

Plus, Heather, the CEO, is a gem; I love her energy, insights, perspectives, and her commitment to providing consistently timely and relevant topics, as well as incredibly talented and inspiring presenters.

If you could give advice to yourself 5 years ago, what would it be?

Be gentle on yourself, trust your instincts and get yourself out of the weeds so you can lift up the women coming up behind you.

Share the article: