B.C.’s Most Influential Women in Finance: Trailblazers

B.C.'s Most Influential Women 2019 - Trailblazers

Anne Giardini

Chancellor, SFU; former president, Weyerhaeuser Canada

Anne Giardini’s foray into the world of economics is of another time. In 1977, as a first-year student at the University of Ottawa in her hometown, she took the subject on the advice of the woman at the admissions desk. “She asked me a few questions about my interests and suggested that economics would be something I’d enjoy,” Giardini recalls.

It turned out to be a savvy choice. Giardini would transfer to SFU (where she now serves as chancellor) a year later, but she relished the chance to be taught by another trailblazer, world-leading economist and South African expat Irene Spry, who passed away in 1998. “Why she took on a bunch of runny nose first-year students, I have no idea,” Giardini says. “But she took an interest in me; I guess I asked the right kinds of questions. And she instilled in me a deep interest in economics and money— how it works in society, how wealth is generated and how it gets deployed.”

Though she later completed two degrees in law, Giardini has remained entrenched in the world of finance. Starting in 2008, she spent six years as president of the Canadian arm of Seattle-based forestry giant Weyerhaeuser. She recently finished an eight-year term as chair of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, and this year she became chair of TransLink‘s finance committee.

“Anne is intellectual, curious, kind and generous,” says panellist Tracey McVicar. “A large community of women in finance, law, the non-profit sector and academia have benefited greatly from her mentorship and sponsorship.”

Asked what she tells young women at SFU and elsewhere who are at the proverbial admissions desk, Giardini notes that she often recommends accounting or another related field. “I think this is an area where women can excel, and do excel, and do shine. They still run into the problem that many women face, that question of hitting a ceiling, or running into their child-bearing or family-rearing years, when things get more challenging,” the mother of three adult children explains.

“I often say, ‘Call me if you’re thinking of quitting or dropping out; I’ll talk you into keeping at it.’ And I mean it. It’s so easy to step aside and go off your career path almost unintentionally and think there will be so many on-ramps back. Those onramps might not be there.” —Nathan Caddell

Beverley Anne (Bev) Briscoe

President, Briscoe Management; chair, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers; vice-chair and lead director, Goldcorp; director, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs; former CFO, operating divisions, Jim Pattison Group

Leslie Cliff

Founding partner, chair and portfolio manager, Genus Capital Management; former board member and former investment committee chair, Insurance Corp. of B.C.; Order of Canada recipient

Elizabeth Harrison

Partner, Farris, Vaughn, Will & Murphy; former chair, British Columbia Ferry Services

Debra Hewson

President and CEO, Odlum Brown; industry director, Canadian Investor Protection Fund; former chair, national advisory committee, Investment Dealers Association of Canada (now called Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada)

Alice Laberge

Director, Royal Bank of Canada; former CEO, president and CFO, Fincentric Corp.; former CFO and senior VP finance, MacMillan Bloedel (now Weyerhaeuser Canada); former director, BC Hydro and Power Authority; former chair, board of governors, UBC

Valerie Lambert

Director and former treasurer, BC Hydro; former VP and treasurer, BC Gas (now Fortis BC); former manager of finance and senior auditor, MacMillan Bloedel (now Weyerhaeuser Canada)

Fiona Macfarlane

Managing partner, B.C., and chief inclusiveness officer, Ernst & Young; member, executive committee, Business Council of British Columbia; former Americas COO, tax, EY

Nancy McKenzie

Chair, finance committee, and member, executive committee, board of governors, UBC; director, UBC Investment Management Trust; director, Coast Capital Savings; former CFO, Seaspan

Nancy McKinstry

Former portfolio manager, partner and director, Odlum Brown; former director, HSBC Bank Canada; former chair, ICBC; co-founder and former chair, Minerva Foundation for BC Women

Joanne McLeod

Director and chair, audit committee, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority; former director, British Columbia Investment Management Corp. (BCI); former VP and treasurer, Westcoast Energy

Sarah Morgan-Silvester

Corporate director, CWB Financial Group, Canadian Western Bank; former EVP, personal financial services and wealth management, HSBC Bank Canada; former president and CEO, HSBC Trust Co. (Canada); former chair, Port Metro Vancouver 

Beverlee (Bev) Park

Former EVP and CFO, TimberWest; former president, Couverdon Real Estate; director, Teekay LNG Partners

Carol Newell

Co-founder and principal, Renewal Partners; co-founder and investor, Renewal Funds; member, SheEO, Canadian Women’s Foundation and Social Venture Circle; member, Order of Canada

Gerri Sinclair

Managing director, Kensington Capital Partners, which manages the BC Tech Fund; founder, NCompass Labs (acquired by Microsoft); director at large, Vancouver International Airport

Sandra Stuart

President, CEO and director, HSBC Bank Canada; member, board of governors, Business Council of British Columbia

Elizabeth Watson

Founder and leader, Watson; selection committee member, Canadian Excellence in Governance Awards; former director, Institute of Corporate Directors