Top 10 female Canadian entrepreneurs
Canada is second only to the US in entrepreneurial activity, and women in this sector are on the rise. Here are the top ten female Canadian entrepreneurs according to the PROFITguide.com W100 2016 list.
10. Ratana Stephens
Co-CEO, Nature’s Path
As co-CEO, Stephens has seen Nature’s Path grow into North America’s largest organic breakfast food company with a revenue in 2015 of $250 million-$500 million USD. The company began in 1985 selling manna bread, and has since appeared on many official lists of both the best and greenest Canadian employers.
9. Shantal Feltham
President and CEO, Stiris Research
Stiris Research offers biotech and pharmaceutical companies the clinical trial solutions required to further medical knowledge, and Feltham is the President and CEO. Last year the company’s revenue was between $5 million and $10 million, and boasts strong ethical values which ensure the finest possible team is employed and retained.
8. Sue Bennett
Principle and CEO, Bennett Design Associates
Bennett began her company in 1997 in a quest for a greater balance between her home life and her work. The company quickly became a popular choice for customers, and a strong player in the interior design industry. Bennett enjoyed a revenue of $5 million-$10 million last year, and the business continues to grow apace.
7. Laura Araneda
President and CEO, Vic Progressive Diamond Drilling
Beginning in 1987, Araneda took over the family mining business in 2008 and has expanded the business exponentially since, growing the team and introducing a business development manager with expert knowledge of geology. Revenue for 2015 was between $10 and $20 million.
6. Rachel Mielke
Mielke’s young jewellery company was formed in 2007, and once she expanded her team with two full-time customer service staff, online sales increased by 205 percent. Last year Hillberg & Berk enjoyed a revenue of $5-$10 million, and to date has donated over $500,000 to women’s charities in the pursuit of female empowerment.
5. Allison Grafton
President, Rockwood Custom Homes
The multi-award winning Rockwood Custom Homes threw caution to the wind in the face of a resource downturn, as Grafton and her business partner chose instead to throw themselves into ambitious construction projects regardless. This positive attitude paid off, as the company enjoyed a revenue of $20-$50 million in 2015.
4. Leigh Timel
Co-CEO, Gravity Partners
Himel’s company provides strategic consulting and marketing communications services to some huge international businesses, ensuring 2015 revenues of $5-$10 million. Himel is a big believer in entrepreneurial spirit, and that watching and learning market trends will lessen any potential business risk when starting out.
3. Mia Pearson
Co-Founder, North Strategic
Pearson and her team buck the often short-lived PR and social media agency trend by negotiating budgets with clients on a case-by-case basis, setting the tone for a highly customizable service. This has ensured a tiny five percent customer turnover, and revenue last year of $5-$10 million.
2. Shannon Rogers
President and General Counsel, Global Relay
Global Relay is a technology services company, which was merely a newborn start-up when Rogers left her lucrative career in law to lead the business as President. The international company now boasts a hugely impressive client base – including 22 of the world’s top 25 banks – and 2015 revenue of $50-$100 million.
1. Tonia Johshan
President and Founder, Steeped Tea
Johshan launched her unique tea business in 2006, starting off by hosting 15 tea parties a month. Now – and particularly since securing a partnership with investors from Dragons’ Den – Johshan offers premium loose leaf tea and accessories that are only available through in-home ParTEAs hosted by independent consultants and online. Steeped Tea enjoyed revenues of $10-$20 million last year.
Read the July 2016 issue of Business Review USA & Canada magazine
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.