When it comes to women in business, Edmonton has its fair share of leaders – three of which were recently recognized for their hard work.
NorQuest College president and CEO Dr. Jodi L. Abbott, Enbridge Liquids Pipelines senior vice-president of operations Cynthia Hansen and TEC Edmonton business development associate Kirsten Poon were all named to the 2015 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 list, an initiative of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN).
While Abbott says the award is humbling and a great recognition of what she and the team at NorQuest have accomplished, it’s also a reminder that there’s plenty more work ahead.
“It’s great to take a moment to celebrate, and then get back down to doing what’s important,” she says.
WXN was founded in 1997 to help women in business connect with one another, and the Top 100 awards began in 2003 as a way, founder Pamela Jeffery says, “to make women in leadership roles more visible.” Since then, a number of high-profile Canadian women have been honoured, including author Margaret Atwood, astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar, former governor general Michalle Jean and business leaders Arlene Dickinson of Dragons’ Den fame and Sleep Country Canada President Christine Magee.
To have her name mentioned in the same sentence as some of those remarkable women is a big honour for Poon.
“I got to meet some of the women you read about, and it’s truly a list of female leaders who are trailblazers,” she says. “They’ve really paved the way for young leaders like myself to climb up the ranks in different organizations and really make a change in society.”
All three locals on the list say they consider themselves role models in their respective industries, and want to help others up the corporate ladder.
“I recognize that we don’t have parity [in the oil and gas industry] , although I think we’re moving toward it, and I have a non-traditional role in operations,” Hansen says. “I recognize with that comes some responsibility and accountability to represent the female demographic well.”
It’s a role that Abbott takes especially seriously, considering 70 per cent of the students at NorQuest are female.
“We are making a significant impact on this group of women, and I think I have a role to be a mentor and a role model [to show that] anything is possible,” she says.