Lessons from women of influence


Merkato consultant Sacha Gudmundsson attended  The Art of Leadership for Women conference and the Women of Influence luncheon series. Here’s what she took away:

Having graduated with a degree in gender studies, I have an interest in the ever-changing role of women in the workplace and how women find success. I was fortunate enough to recently attend both The Art of Leadership for Women conference and the Women of Influence luncheon series. The Art Of is an organization with the mission to provide business professionals with the tools, techniques and knowledge they need to be successful. The focus is on sharing knowledge from the world’s leading experts in various fields. The Art Of hosted its inaugural Leadership for Women conference on May 29th with Wendy Mesley, host of CBC’s The National, and award winning journalist. In addition to being a skilled journalist, Wendy Mesley is hilarious! She had me cracking up throughout the day with her little quips here and there. Throughout the day we heard speeches from:


We also heard from the executive panel:

  • Julie Barker-Merz – President, BMO InvestorLine and Head of Direct Investing Wealth Management – BMO Financial Group
  • Staci Trackey Meagher – Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group – Microsoft
  • Tara Fine – Director for Commercial Channels – Dell Canada
  • Brenda Rideout – Chief Customer Officer – Tangerine

During the day, the discussion ranged from topics like failure, fear of failure and how our confidence plays such a large role in that fear. Katty Kay said “confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.” She continued to say that perfectionism is a confidence killer as it makes us fearful of failure and imperfection. Kay outlined that confidence comes down to: acting more, thinking less and being authentic. While most of the speakers addressed their issues with confidence, Martha Stewart was sure to point out that she never lacked confidence and when she said it, I believed her. That woman could bottle her confidence up and sell it.

katty kay One of the major topics was the idea of ‘balance’ or should I say the myth of balance. From what I could tell, in order to be successful in your career, other things will suffer. It doesn’t seem to be a question of will they or wont they, it came across as a cold hard fact. It makes sense though, juggling isn’t an easy task – trust me, I’ve tried to teach myself how.

Sacha Juggling Did you know that there are only 28 women who run fortune 500 companies and of that 28, only one is married. Many of the speakers commented on missing major life moments in pursuit of one’s career. To counter that, there were also many comments on how society has changed in recent years to allow women to have a better chance at ‘having it all.’ After listening to everyone speak, I came to the conclusion that I can have it all. I just have to determine what ‘all’ means to me. A couple weeks after The Art Of conference I attended Women of Influence luncheon series with Bonnie Brooks, Vice Chair HBC. She spoke about her experience in the workplace, her vision for HBC, her love of dreaming and insecurity around age, being too young and being too old. The most significant moment during the day was when she asked us to grab a piece of paper and write down write down these questions.

  • What are you doing in 5 years?
  • What company are you with?
  • What’s your role and your income?

Then she asked us to do some homework. Using the answers to those questions, she told us to pretend it was 2019 and that our favourite magazine/paper was interviewing us. Why were we being interviewed? What story did we have to tell? It’s scary to think about those questions and what those answers might be. After having attended those two events, I see the importance in asking ourselves these difficult questions. In order to take charge of our direction, we need to not be afraid to dream, embrace our confidence and shake away the fear of failure.

(posted by Sacha)

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