Christina Anthony, Vice-president, director, portfolio manager and investment advisor, Odlum Brown; chair, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs

As vice-president, director and portfolio manager at Odlum Brown, and with spots on the boards of BC Lotteries and the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation, Christina Anthony’s resumé alone commands attention.

But it is her work as chair of the non-profit Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, which she founded in 2002, that has earned the 39-year-old mother of four her most high-profile recognition. Since its inception, the FWE has provided nearly 15,000 women with access to mentorship, support and industry expertise. Graduates include YYoga co-founder Lara Kozan and Caren McSherry of Gourmet Warehouse.

Through FWE, Anthony has become a public champion for women in business, but she’s careful to point out her success is emblematic of overall efforts in the sector—on the part of both women and men—to improve visibility and opportunity for women.

“I think there’s a ton of mentorship happening below the radar,” she says, naming Joe Segal, RBC Global Asset Management’s John Montalbano, Farris Law’s Al Hudec and CAI Capital Management’s Tracey McVicar as influential figures in the movement. “I like to think I’m a very small cog in that wheel, trying to do a little bit in that regard.”

Anthony has never been one to coast below the radar, however. Growing up in Richmond, as the third of four children in a “super-high-achieving” family, her path to finance started with an interest in presenting at science fairs. Twice she won provincial competitions and went on to compete in the Canada-Wide Science Fair. It was there that she discovered her knack for business.

“I realized while doing these science fairs that I loved explaining the math behind it but also selling the idea and selling the business concept behind the science experiment,” she recalls. “I realized later I was effectively explaining what the competitive advantage of that experiment was.”

After high school, one semester of physics at UBC confirmed for her that pure science wasn’t her passion. She transferred to what was then UBC’s faculty of commerce, now the Sauder School of Business, and there was no looking back: “I loved it—I just got the bug.” After landing a spot in the school’s prestigious Portfolio Management Foundation Program, she interned with Deutsche Asset Management in Frankfurt and Phillips Hager & North in Vancouver. That led to a job with Goldman Sachs in Seattle and New York, and later back to Vancouver with Odlum Brown, where she’s a member of the executive committee.

Her decision to bring FWE to Canada—a version exists in the United States—came after realizing many women weren’t aware of the support that’s available to them in the business world.

“It was not that women needed different help or more help than men needed,” she says. “It was that some women didn’t feel that they had the same access to that help that anybody needs.” More than a decade later, Anthony says that perception has started to change as FWE graduates pay it forward.

Also helpful, she adds, is that more women can see the myriad options for building a career and having a family, if that’s what they choose. For Anthony, switching from the high-pressure sell side of finance to the more predictable asset management side allowed her to prioritize having a family. In fact, as we speak in Odlum Brown’s downtown Vancouver boardroom, two of her kids—William, 8, and John, 6—are munching on McDonalds in her office: a special treat over spring break.

“The reality is, we’re driving our own buses here, girls—and we need to be aware that we always have choices.”

To see who else made our list of the 50 Most Influential Women in B.C., go here >>