As a woman, mentoring other women is one of the opportunities in my career that brings me tremendous satisfaction and joy. I am proud of my continued success in an industry that is still very male-dominated at the executive level. When I was selected as the successful candidate to lead Shaw Centre after a nationwide search several years ago, that was definitely a career highlight for me. The fact that I was joining an organization that was also ready to help many women forge successful careers made my new job that much sweeter. I feel privileged to be able to pass on some of the lessons I have learned in order to help other women at all stages of their careers.
When I am asked what tools or skills are necessary to succeed at the top in this industry, I often cite communication first and foremost, which to me means ensuring my employees know they can always count on me to listen. This is vital because I know that our staff – the majority of whom are female – are the heart and soul of our organization and perform best when engaged and happy. Maintaining a good work environment through honest, open dialogue is something for which I take personal responsibility.
Another key element to running a business such as this is managing risk, and that’s a daily task just like communication. We face risks from our competitors, from the ripple effects of global events and from unforeseen emergency situations. Our building is open to the public which means that each day my team and I have to walk a fine line between being welcoming and being vigilant. Learning to trust your instincts – whether it’s stepping up to manage risk or in addressing career challenges – is a message I emphasize when mentoring others.
The many young women on our Shaw Centre team tell me they are inspired to see a female leader that projects corporate strength coupled with friendliness and inclusion. I have honed my management style is to be as inclusive and open as possible. Whether I’m delivering a keynote address, presenting aggressive sales targets or celebrating a happy milestone in an employee’s life, I believe there is always room to balance business with humanity. At Shaw Centre, we have employees from all over the world, including countries where women are oppressed. They feel empowered to work in an organization where success and growth are possible for women, in an environment where being kind is as important as being strong.
Mentorship is important to me in a female-centric organization, especially in middle management. I look to women who have the desire and potential to grow within the organization and personally strive to help them build their confidence plus identify the resources they are lacking to get to the next level or to execute their responsibilities more effectively. This is a role that I genuinely cherish and having a leadership team that includes lots of strong women really helps in this industry. I truly believe the old adage “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. I am also pleased to serve as a mentor for talented interns from the hospitality and event planning industry; we have developed a program to get their careers off to a promising start because they represent the future of our industry.
On International Women’s Day, as I do throughout the year, I find myself reflecting on the unique, creative and heartfelt support that women can offer each other, providing valuable tools to help a wide range of skills develop. I believe that there are unique obstacles that women encounter in the business world and it is gratifying to not only be able to share my hard-earned wisdom and experience, but also to watch women helping each other succeed on a daily basis. While there is much work to be done to ensure gender equality becomes entrenched in Canadian workplaces, I am optimistic when I see the gains that are being made.