As their mentees can attest, these leaders are staunch friends and allies. In fields ranging from finance and law to science and visual art, they mentor formally, informally—and selflessly
Vice-president, director and portfolio manager, Odlum Brown Ltd., investment firm, Vancouver
Mentorship roles: Founder and chair, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Vancouver
Shout out: “Christina has this story, I think it was when she was working for Goldman Sachs, and they had a meeting in L.A. and another meeting across the city, and traffic was so horrible that they couldn’t possibly get there by car. So she said, ‘How else can we get there? Helicopter!’ And she went about finding one. I’ve learned so much from her about seeing challenges. It’s not, ‘Oh, we can’t do this because there’s a challenge,’ it’s, ‘Oh, there’s a challenge! What needs to happen for us to overcome this challenge? Let’s put a plan in place.’” —Lisa Niemetscheck, general manager, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.
Managing partner, PurposeSocial, web development social enterprise, Victoria
Mentorship roles: Chapter lead, Ladies Learning Code, Victoria; entrepreneur in residence, Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre, UVic
Shout out: “I look at myself as a social entrepreneur, I’m out to make a social contribution to the world, and not all mentors want to talk that language. Having Erin as a mentor was so great because she never tried to pull me out of my context. She would constantly pull me out of the mechanics and my approach, but she never asked me to sidestep my values. So it felt like a really safe place to bounce ideas around, to try things on, to consider new perspectives. I never felt like I had to compromise.” —Jason Guille, producer, Stream of Consciousness, livestream broadcast service, Victoria.
CEO, YWCA Metro Vancouver
Mentorship roles: Women’s Executive Network; former chair, Women’s Leadership Circle, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade; Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland
Shout out: “She didn’t just influence my leadership journey, but she definitely has influenced how I mentor people and who I mentor. I probably do more of it because of her mentorship. Her generosity with her time and her willingness to always be there for me, when you consider what she’s got on her plate and how busy she is, encourages me to make time for people and try to not say no to anybody when they want to meet.” —Fiona Douglas-Crampton, president and CEO, Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, Vancouver; chair, Women’s Leadership Circle.
Associate professor, Department of Computer Science, UVic
Mentorship roles: Teaching and advising; Ladies Learning Code, Victoria chapter
Shout out: “Yvonne is obviously different from any other professor. She wears shorts all year round because she has so much internal energy. I did a final project with a partner for my bachelor’s, and she was our adviser. I thought it would be a five-minute video and that would be it, but Yvonne’s vision for it was much bigger. She encouraged us to try to get it into a conference, and we did get in, and it was a big success. After having her as a professor, it was like, ‘What else can I do to be around this person who is so inspiring and makes everything so fun?’” —Rebeca Dunn-Krahn, developer, Semaphore Solutions Inc., software firm, Victoria.
Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering; associate dean, Faculty of Applied Science, UBC
Mentorship roles: Teaching and advising; in 2003, launched a mentoring program for women in engineering that has grown to include men; former National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chair for Women in Engineering, B.C. and Yukon
Shout out: “I spent four years getting my PhD in her lab, working on human-robot interaction….Now, as a professor advising students myself, I strive to be as good at advising them as she was to me. Even though she was much more experienced and knowledgeable, she always treated me as an equal and gave me the opportunity to come up with my own ideas….Even now that I’m more senior and advanced in my career, whenever I need advice I know I can always go to her.” —Dana Kulić, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, University of Waterloo.
Director, FortisBC, TransLink; deputy minister to former premier Gordon Campbell
Mentorship roles: B.C. government; Women’s Executive Network; helping to set up a mentoring program at UVic for women in economics
Shout out: “When you think about someone of her profile, you question whether they’re approachable. But Brenda will answer whatever question you have. She’s not blunt in a harsh way, but she’s very to the point, and she’s very open to giving her time back to other women who are coming up behind her.” —Parveen Khtaria, project manager, B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.