Monday, 22 August 2016

Fearless Females: Kimothy Walker

Kimothy is an award winning journalist, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and Ottawa local. She has it all, a career she is passionate about, a family she loves, and a voice to inspire women of all generations. We had the opportunity to chat with Kimothy and as her some questions. Here’s what she had to say:

You worked for 25 years as a journalist for CTV. In fact, your news broadcast was one of the most successful local weekend newscasts in our generation. What kinds of challenges did you have to overcome to achieve such success?

“Most of my early challenges were sparked because I was too young and inexperienced to truly know how to build effective teams. At 24, I was one of the youngest anchor/producers in the entire network. I just figured if you had enough people you could get the job done. I didn’t know anything about supervising individuals, or getting the right people into the right positions.  Most very talented people have really visible strengths. But, they are pretty good at hiding their weaknesses. So, as a supervisor or mentor, it takes some real work to understand the specific skills of each individual. You need to allow that person to feel safe in order to help feed their real passion and allow them to thrive on your team. It also helps if you buy them ice cream periodically.  

I dismiss entirely the attitude that you can’t work with people you care about. In fact, I work ONLY with people I care about in my own business. I also authentically care about my clients and I feel bonded to my partners and associates.  I need to trust people in order to partner with them. I need to trust they will do their best for me, and in turn I will do my best for them. Generally I find people work a heck of a lot harder for you if you’re kind to them. “

Talk about your biggest failure and how has it shaped your success?

“I was generally an A to B+ student at the Carleton University School of Journalism. Then, I failed (less than a B-) second year television. Yes, television! Ironically, it is the profession that provided my financial security for 25 years including 2 documentaries since leaving CTV.   My professor said that perhaps I should find another “calling”.  While I ended up getting an A on my supplement exam it always stayed with me that your life can change direction because someone else has decided you’re not very good at something.  So….I decided not to listen to all of those people. Many people didn’t think I could do it. Despite having three jobs I got into the prestigious program as, perhaps, the very last person on the list. And in the end only 75 people graduated of the more than 300 people who entered. I was one of those who graduated. I wasn’t smarter than all of the scholarship kids or those who studied night and day. What I did have was perseverance and resilience. I did not give up.  You could argue I was just stubborn. My parents would not argue against you.

When I left television in 2014 I applied that exact formula to my new company, Ottawa Media Group, with my business partner Eric Collard and 21 associates. We do consulting on everything from media relations/production to event management and fundraising. People seemed to think I just read out loud for a living. They didn’t know I ran the newsroom two days a week or that I knew about management and strategy. Now we have dozens of prominent clients and many worthwhile causes. We are proving that if you want to be good in business you need to do good things in your community. “

 What advice would you give to your younger self?

“I wish I had not wasted as many days, weeks, months, years and decades worrying about how I looked. Most of the time I was one of the 91 per cent of women who, according to a recent documentary, hate their bodies. What an unbelievable waste of time.  My body has taken me up 12 mountains, including Mt. Kilimanjaro. It helped me start triathlons at 40 years old.  I took me to Hera Mission’s Asembo Bay in Kenya to work on a community centre, named after my charity Amazing People. And, it helped me twice build schools in Nicaragua for SchoolBOX. My body made a baby human who is now 19 years old. “

                Dear Younger Self: Someone else’s version of perfection is a ridiculous waste of time. I can assure you that you are not perfect, so why bother pretending that you are.

  If you have daughters or young women in your life, what changes would you like to see in today’s society before they enter the working world?

“I dream of a day that your gender, your race, your religion and who you love are not considered factors, whatsoever, in your ability to do a job. I want my two daughters to look at Fortune 500 companies, where the vast majority of CEOs are men, and know that that’s just not good enough. I want them to feel entitled to the job if they are the most qualified and to not feel they need to “ask” for equality. I want them to know that their gender has absolutely no bearing on their ability to achieve their goals. I want them to understand that if Canada has not achieved full equality yet we have not yet earned the right to hold ourselves up as examples to other countries of how things should be done. I just don’t think we are there yet.”

Are there any words of wisdom that you would like to impart on today’s millennials?

“Slow down! Your time on this Earth is not just about your career while living on this planet. It’s about your LIFE. And it is usually shorter than you would like. I have friends and family members who have been handed surprising and devastating health challenges. You cannot take for granted that there will be time to live out your dreams somewhere down the road, so move up your “must dos” on the priority list.  That said, I don’t recommend driving an RV over the Alps….I tried it. It’s very frightening.                                                                                                              You need to find the balance between moving forward to celebrate humanity and enjoying the precise moment you are in.”

Do you have a passion project you’re currently working on? Tell us a little about it.

I am Chair of an incredible group called “Amazing People”. We host fun events to honour amazing people in Ottawa and we have raised more than $200,000 for three organizations, SchoolBOX, Hera Mission and Project North. In October we are announcing a major new event in partnership with Ottawa Race Weekend 2017.  So far, our charity group Amazing People has built several schools in Nicaragua and a community centre in Kenya, and now we’re also going to be helping aboriginal, Metis and Inuit children. 

We are also helping amazing people in a number of other ways. For example, right now we’re supporting the boy known as Ottawa’s Butterfly Child Jonathan Pitre. He has the worst disease anyone has ever heard of… his skin doesn’t stay on his body. It’s as fragile as a butterfly’s wings. His mom really needs some financial assistance to help pay for living expenses in the United States during his stem cell transplant.  It is his last hope. So, we’ve started a fundraiser!

Kimothy will be joining us on August 25th at 6pm as WiL presents

Thirsty Thursdays at the Heart & Crown.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Funny How We Changed the Rules By Picking Up Our Toys and Going Home

Point A to B 

Points of Interest. Shortest Point. Get the Point.

post by Tina Crouse
Head, WIL Ottawa 

Photo: Authentic Parent

Funny How We Changed the Rules By Picking Up Our Toys and Going Home

(Originally posted Nov. 2013)

The business world is full of criticisms of women: we don’t go after capital or go into debt; we don’t stay at our post (we actually take maternity leave and don’t come back); we don’t play the game. Yep, heard it before; men’s rules and the demand that we follow them. But with the uptick in female-led businesses exploding all over the world and people coming to realize the value of having women AND men work together and the positive impact on the bottom line, well, I’d say the rules are changing. Finally.

Interestingly, these changing rules are spreading, even into places that are considered sacrosanct like investment.  So while I stated that women don’t go after investment, there is a new kind on offer, the type that comes with understanding, mentoring, coaching, SYMPATHY and yes, money. Women held out for the good stuff and it’s arrived (see Forbes article Accelerate Women Now )

I like this shift. Those old rules weren’t made for us; they didn’t make sense and they made us uncomfortable, so a lot of us wouldn’t play and sure enough, the other team got tired of playing by themselves. Now this is not to say that all the other players are on onboard; many like the old game where they made the rules and got to win most of the time. We also have to remember that there were a lot of women who had to change sides and learn the game inside out in order to succeed within those rules. Luckily, those women then decided to help the rest of us. And, here we are.

  • Over the last 20 years, Canada has seen a 200-percent increase in the number of women-owned firms. 
  • In 2001, nearly half (47 percent) of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada had at least one female owner 
  • Firms with at least one female owner employed 2.6 million people producing annual commercial revenues of $72 billion.  

I say, ‘Let’s Keep Going’. Why not? We’re finally rounding 3rd and we’ve got 2 more on base: our daughters and our sisters. Surely, we’ll win the game this time.

Monday, 9 February 2015

STEM Mentorship for Canadian university women

 Point A to B 

Points of Interest. Shortest Point. Get the Point.

Guest Post by Katharine Cornfield

 How to Develop Leadership 

Outside of Work

It’s not often that I find myself in a room full of scientists.  Honestly, I think the last time was high school chemistry class, and yes, I realize that is stretching the definition of ‘scientist’.

Fast forward a few years (let’s not count how many),  and I find myself part of the Women in Leadership - Women in Science and Engineering (WIL/WISE) project team working to develop a mentorship program for university-level women in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.  Needless to say, it has been an amazing window into a world I don’t   know well.

Apparently, the path forward for the intrepid women who choose to move into STEM is fraught with challenges, from classroom culture and job options to professional development and advancement outside the lab.  But, with the right nurturing and support, there is plenty of reason for optimism and hope.  Enter WIL/WISE’s new mentorship program, designed to help tomorrow’s leaders get a head start today.

To launch the first session, each project lead had an opportunity to speak to the full group of participants. With nothing much to say on the subject of STEM careers, I shared a few reflections on what I believe to be the essential ingredients to developing leadership, regardless of professional path.  

So, here are my top “to-do’s” for developing your leadership outside of work.

1. JOIN:  Become a member of an industry or issue-based association, organization or community group.  Be bold and try the unexpected.  Expand your horizons beyond your usual subject areas of expertise.

2. LEARN:  Cover ground you haven’t considered.  Take advantage of any and all formal and informal opportunities to learn. Uncover how organizations work.  Unlock the secret to good marketing & communications.  Brush up your presentation skills.  Follow the money and learn finance.  Get comfortable with being a beginner.

3. APPLY:  Put yourself forward to speak at conferences or events. Apply for leadership programs.  Have your friends nominate you for awards.  Look for and apply to any opportunity that comes your way, and don’t wait to be noticed.    

4. CONTRIBUTE:  Pick a cause or a favourite organization and volunteer your time.  Serve on a Board of Directors or a sub-committee.  Join a political party or community association.  Flex your good citizenship muscles.  While you’re at it, develop your skills and your network.

5. PRODUCE: Make something. Publish a blog, take photos, or pen poetry. Buy a url and own your content.  Build a body of work outside the office, and let it evolve in parallel to your professional career. Consider that someday, the two may intersect.

6. CONNECT:  Do not underestimate the power of your professional and personal network. Your classmates or colleagues today are the leaders of tomorrow.  Nurture your network, by always adding value, and stay in touch.  Together, you may change the world.

Katharine Cornfield is a small business owner and social entrepreneur; and is a member of the Women in Leadership –Ottawa executive team.  She believes cities should be vibrant, welcoming, inclusive places for people; that good citizenship means taking action; and that business can be a force for good.  Follow Katharine on Twitter @girlaboutOtown.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Point A to B 


Points of Interest. Shortest Point. Get the Point.

L-R Mary McGrath, Nancy Neamtan,
Itifo Engulu, Tessa Hebb, Tonya Surman

 Celebrating Women in 

Impact Investing

On Thursday Nov. 6th, an evening reception was held at the Social Finance Forum 2014, by the Women in Leadership Foundation for four outstanding women who work in the impact investing field in Canada. Partnered with MaRS Centre for Impact Investing in Toronto, the celebration highlighted the years and dedication plus vision needed by the women to create the industry that exists today. 

The evening was an opportunity for Forum attendees to celebrate the achievements of the four successful women and their tremendous contributions to the sector. Without them, Canada could not be providing the opportunity for people to invest in businesses and causes that benefit society. Social Finance leads the way in doing business differently and the four women represented have taken the steps to make it possible.

Emceed by the ever popular Allyson Hewitt, the Awards ceremony began with Itifo Engulu of CIBC and formally of the Montreal Community Loan Fund, providing terrific summaries of the many achievements of the award recipients while emphasizing that these achievements had formed the foundation for Canada’s impact investing field today.

Nancy Neamtan has been working to develop investment in the social economy in Quebec since the late 1980's. Currently, she is the President and Executive Director of the Chantier de l’├ęconomie sociale. She was the first person to convince government and various corporate funders to invest millions of dollars in the non-profit and cooperative sector, laying the groundwork for future investments and providing a model for partnership for the social finance sector.

Tessa Hebb is currently the Director of the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation and also a full-time professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. In the mid 1990's, Tessa attended Harvard and Oxford universities pursuing post-graduate degrees in her field now known as Impact Investment. However, at the time of her studies, this term and everything associated with it did not exist. As Canada’s longest standing academic in the field of impact investing, Tessa had the vision to work in the field before it had words. She has since helped to form the policies, structures and terminology for impact investing in Canada.

In 2007, Mary McGrath, working in collaboration with Ruth Richardson, co-founded and developed Canada’s first crowdfunding site ‘Small Change Fund’. Pre-dating Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Small Change Fund allows Canadians to fund issues of environmental sustainability and social justice. The organization has enabled support for grassroots projects, mostly in rural and isolated locations. Mary’s leadership has given the sector its best tool to engage Canadians to connect to, care about and support the environment.

In 2009, Tonya Surman created Canada’s first community bond to buy and renovate the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. Now with three additional locations including one in New York, CSI leads the sector in innovative finance development made available to all people who want to build their communities. With facilities housing more than 800 social enterprises and non-profits, CSI has given impact investing a large scale, direct way for individuals to enact change.

The women were awarded certificates of achievement for their outstanding efforts in the field of Impact Investing. The 200+ crowd signified loudly that the awards were well-earned. From the achievements of the award recipients, it is obvious that Canada has had tremendous female leadership for many years in the social finance sector. The Women in Leadership Foundation was proud to have participated in a significant night of recognition.
Tina Crouse
WIL Ottawa

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Point A to B 

Points of Interest. Shortest Point. Get the Point.

from WE magazine
Impact Investing: Women and Millennials: Here comes the money – FINALLY!

While I can only find US statistics on the new wealth now in the hands of women, the numbers are fantastic. American women now own and control 60% of private assets, which amounts to $16 trillion dollars. (see the article ) And why do I find this good news? Because more than 70% of married women fire their financial advisors within one year of their husbands’ deaths (Pershing Investments Women are not a niche market )  The main reason? Women find the advisors don’t understand them because truth be known, women are value-investors and that’s good news for the Impact Investment field.

I watched a YouTube video called Mainstreaming Impact Investment on the sector's new reality. Again, it’s US content for women and new investors but the numbers are unbelievable.  What’s even better is the expected long-term gains that will come from Millennials. Yes, these young people who receive so much bad press for living at home, avoiding the corporate world and delaying major life events are intent on using money for good and they are set in the next few years to begin impact investing with $1 Trillion US dollars. Think what this will do for the world of social innovation, poverty reduction, healthcare improvements, affordable housing. The list can go on ~ and it will.

These two populations have been left out of the traditional investment world but they will suddenly become the power brokers. Considering their interests, it gives me faith that the world will become more balanced and money will be used in the service of human kind and not just to make more. What gives me such confidence? There are new studies indicating that women, by nature, are better investors. Their long-term gains are better, they outperform men in their portfolios and they reduce volatility in the market. You can read the information yourself form TD Bank ’Are Women Better Investors? and MSN.

And the long-term gain part? The number one indicator of successful women who manage their own money was that someone taught them. Do you really think all these wealthy Boomer mothers will forsake their children?

The world just got richer in the best way possible – through caring.