TORONTO - There were strong themes woven through the panel discussion titled Voices of Experience: Women Leaders Speak Out, part of the Leadership Matters 2012 conference that took place recently in Toronto, Ontario. Among them was the importance of strong leadership, how being passionate and leading from the heart is key to success and the significance of encouraging role models. One of the five voices creating this rich tapestry of knowledge was Dianne Craig, president and CEO, Ford of Canada.
“The sharing of knowledge is one of the most important things that we can do,” said Craig. “From the boardroom, to the conference floor, to the classroom, the more we talk about our successes and our challenges, the stronger we all become.”
Joining Craig on the panel was the Honourable Eva Aariak, Premier, Government of Nunavut; Bonnie Brooks, president and CEO, The Bay and Elaine Campbell, president and CEO, AstraZeneca Canada, Inc. It was moderated by Amanda Lang, senior business correspondent, CBC News and co-host of The Lang & O’Leary Exchange.
It was a lively and engaging session which discussed everything from diversity, to formal vs. informal mentoring, and if young people are prepared adequately for the challenges that lie ahead of them. What was also fascinating, and added another layer of depth to the event, was that each participant brought into the discussion a very different point of view stemming from their background, individual experiences and even physical location.
Aariak spoke about her traditional Inuit childhood and how that’s shaped her approach to the challenges she faces as the first female Premier of Nunavut. Being passionate about what she does is central to achievement for Brooks, but she discussed how it can take a lifetime for your head and your heart to be in synch professionally. As a fourth generation engineer, Campbell described how her success stems from wanting the jobs that no one else wanted. Craig rounded out the panel by discussing mentorship, the importance of listening to and learning from feedback, and that conviction in what you want in life (both personally and professionally) is key to success.
“I’m humbled by the opportunities I’ve earned in my career to grow as a professional and as an executive,” said Craig. “I’ve discovered how to negotiate the bumps in the road, to learn from the challenges and to celebrate the successes. Whenever I get the opportunity to inspire others, I jump at the chance.”