Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Celebrating Canadian Female Investor & Founder Trailblazers – Part 1: Childhood

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The CVCA’s Celebrating Canadian Female Investor & Founder Trailblazers is a five-part series celebrating the success of Canadian women in business as part of International Women’s Day.

Today is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women all over the globe. However, progress has slowed in many places across the world, so global action is needed to accelerate gender parity.

The Canadian federal government, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has made headlines for its approach to gender equality. The government took meaningful steps to support women’s leadership by appointing Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet and deciding to restore funding for women’s rights advocacy,” in November 2015.

While the government has put an increased focus on gender-based policy analysis and women’s rights in international development, there is still room for improvement.

Female leaders are important for the attitudes and ambitions of young women. According to a 2012 study from MIT, Seeing women in charge persuaded parents and teens that women can run things, and increased their ambitions. Changing perceptions and giving hope can have an impact on reality.”

The theme for International Women’s Day in 2017, is #BeBoldForChange; a call on the masses, or call on yourself, to help forge a better working world and a more inclusive, gender equal world. On ways you can declare bold actions to help progress the gender agenda, visit the International Women’s Day website for a list of resources.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, the CVCA reached out to successful female investors and entrepreneurs to expand on their career stories, address current roadblocks to success, and to provide some advice on how to combat inequality in 2017.

The CVCA’s Celebrating Canadian Female Investor & Founder Trailblazers series begins at the innocence of childhood.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

I wanted to be a long-haul truck driver. I was intrigued by the sense of adventure, self-reliance and accomplishment of driving trucks across the country. Later, I realized that creating new businesses would also require a sense of adventure, self-reliance and lead to an even greater sense of accomplishment, so I shifted my focus. – Janet Bannister, Partner, Real Ventures

Journalist. In the era of real news, they brought the world to me. That world was a complex, exciting place and journalists seemed to be the only people that got paid to travel to exotic locations. – Shirley Speakman, Partner, CYCLE Capital Management

My dream job was to always have my own business. I never wanted to work for a large company. When I was a child, I thought I wanted to run a modelling agency. While that specific dream never materialized, I did start McRock Capital and couldn’t be happier. – Whitney Rockley, Co-Founder & Managing Founder, McRock Capital

I was interested in many things so my dream jobs included archeologist, travel agent, detective, lawyer, writer as well as teacher and business person, with inspiration on the last two from my parents’ careers. I think the common thread among them is that they would let me continue to be curious, discover and learn but also provide the opportunity to teach and mentor others. I didn’t know venture capital existed back then, but I believe my curiosity and keen interest in mentorship has positioned me well to succeed in the venture and start-up community. – Kerri Golden, Partner & CFO at Information Venture Partners Inc.

I vividly remember studying Mme Currie’s – the first woman to win a Nobel prize – when I was in primary school. Because of her, I believed I could be a great scientist who would make some ground-breaking discoveries. I also wanted to be an astronaut – that sounded cool as well. – Michelle McBane, Director, MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund

As a kid, I had two dream jobs. My ambitious plan was to become a paediatrician, since it felt so noble. That quickly changed after learning how long I’d be in school. My creative’ side wanted to be an interior designer (creative being in quotes because I’m really not all that artistic). – Neha Khera, Partner, 500 Startups

I always wanted to be an educator which is exactly what my first career came to be. From a very early age I used to play school” with my friends and I always wanted to be the teacher. I enjoyed creating activities for my students” and leading the class through a lesson. At that age, I was known to be a little bit bossy ;). – Tami Zuckerman, Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer, VarageSale

To run Lincoln Center in New York City. As a former student at the Juilliard School of Music, I always dreamed of running a major arts institution. I wanted to bring the creative and business worlds together. What I’m doing today is certainly an extension of that! – Jen Lee Koss, Co-founder and Builder of Business, Brika

Forensic scientist! I was an avid reader of Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie and other mystery” authors and always thought I’d pursue that as a career. Carol Leaman, President & CEO, Axonify

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a pilot. I think Robert Munsch’s book Angela’s Airplane” had a big impact on me. Isn’t it incredible the ideas that books can put into little girls’ minds? You see another girl flying an airplane and start to get the idea you can too …I guess as I grew up, I still saw flying as the entry to the rest of the world, and it always felt like a dream. By the end of high school, I wrote in my yearbook that I wanted to make it on wall street”. Sometime after graduating from high school, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I watched my parents working so hard every day and it really rubbed off on me over the breakfast table. I still laugh at the pilot dream today, as I probably almost fly as much as a pilot in my role running OMX. – Nicole Verkindt, President, OMX

I wanted to be a marine biologist so I could take care of other species and discover a world that was completely unknown to me. – Stephany Lapierre, CEO, tealbook

I was the most indecisive kid with so many dream jobs! I went from wanting to be a cashier when I was 6 (because I loved collecting money), to a teacher when I was 12 (because I liked helping people), to an entrepreneur when I was 15 (because I loved building things). – Jaclyn Ling, Director of Partnerships at kik, Co-founder of Blynkstyle

As a kid, I wanted to be an actress or a singer. I think I always loved the thrill of being in front of an audience. Sadly, I was a terrible singer and a pretty mediocre actor. Looking back though, my time in musical theatre will have prepared me well for the pressures of boardroom presentations and large pitch competition. – Marie Chevrier, Founder, Sampler

I wanted to be an astronaut. I went to Space Camp when I was 12 – and we trained at a real astronaut training centre. I loved the idea of space being so unknown and it represented the biggest adventure possible. It was very cool. – Lindsey Goodchild, Founder, Nudge Rewards

This article was part one of the CVCA’s Celebrating Canadian Female Investor & Founder Trailblazers. Celebrating Canadian Female Investor & Founder Trailblazers is a five-part series celebrating the success of Canadian women in business as part of International Women’s Day.