Career Advice From Extraordinary Canadian Women


Over the years, women have made leaps and bounds in the workplace.

Although gender income equality and the infamous glass ceiling is still an issue, society as a whole is slowly but surely moving in the right direction. More and more women are rising into management positions, gaining influence one executive role at a time.

In fact, statistics show that women between the ages of 25 and 34 hold 59.1% of all university degrees among their age group, which is incredible! However, when you’re just starting out in the working world, it can be difficult to find your place and the motivation to succeed in your field.

To get a much-needed dose of career inspiration, we looked to some powerful Canadian women for some insights into hatching a successful career.

Carol Wilding

Having graduated from the prestigious Schulich School of Business, Carol Wilding comes from a very strong background in Accounting. From there, she went on to hold four different CEO positions over the course of her career. Most notably, she was CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade for seven years from January 2007 to September 2014.

After that, she returned to her Accounting roots. She currently resides as CEO of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario. Carol is a true role model when it comes to female leaders, and she’s inspired many to achieve great things too.

Maintaining your reputation is vital, particularly in tough times. A reputation is built on integrity. Your integrity is your biggest asset and you must protect it. It’s about being authentic and trustworthy. Your word is your guarantee. Carol Wilding, [Source]

Carol really values integrity – to her, qualities like morality and sincerity are just as important as being successful. Plus, the satisfaction of reaching your goals while taking the high road is much greater than gaining success through quick and easy shortcuts.

Anne Sado

As a graduate from the University of Toronto’s Engineering program, Anne started her career with Bell Canada and eventually worked her way up to Senior Vice-President, Business Processes and Operational Effectiveness, where she played a key role in exponentially increasing the company’s income by $450 million in 2001 and $550 million in 2002.

Now, Anne is the President of George Brown College, which has dramatically grown in size and reputation since she’s stepped into this influential role. From earning an Engineering degree, to helping a leading telecommunications company grow, to becoming President of a reputable learning institution, Anne has accomplished more in her career thus far than most people do in their entire lives.

Don’t be daunted by the math and science. You can do it. Engineering seems to be the last hold out in terms of having equal participation of men and women. The Engineering profession needs the balance of diverse views – and our economy needs STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) graduates to ensure we continue to innovate and grow.Anne Sado, [Source]

With her background in Engineering, Anne is a huge supporter of women pursuing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic) fields. A career in STEM can be challenging, but the reward of doing work that impacts people’s daily lives makes it a worthwhile path to pursue.

Did you know? There are a lot of resources and initiatives available nowadays for women pursuing Engineering careers. For example, the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation has awarded scholarships to over 200 female Engineering students!

Eve Tsai

Eve first obtained her Medical degree and completed her residency in Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. However, she’s never really left her love for academia behind. Over time, she’s become a highly qualified medical practitioner with a Master’s degree, a PhD, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada designation.

Presently, she works as a Neurosurgeon at The Ottawa Hospital – she has been since 2006 – and is an Associate Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Her research mainly revolves around subjects like spinal cord repair strategies and effects after spine surgery, all of which are related to the type of surgery she specializes in.

While there are more women working in Healthcare today than ever before, few of them are professional Surgeons. Eve has taken a career path that is highly rewarding but also very challenging. Considering the fact that she saves lives for a living, she is pretty much a real world superhero!

Look for and take advantage of the opportunities. If all you see are the barriers, you will never be able to see and take advantage of the opportunities.Eve Tsai, [Source]

Whether a student is looking to become a Surgeon or a leader in any other industry, this advice should be taken to heart. If a woman only focuses on the obstacles stopping her, she’ll never see what’s beyond those walls. The very first step to overcoming barriers is to look for the chance to do so, even if it takes a lot of perseverance and hard work. Trust us, it will be worth it in the end.

Fiona Macfarlane

With a Bachelors of Arts, Commerce, and Law degree from University of Cape Town and a Master’s degree in Law from Cambridge University, Fiona Macfarlane has gone on to become a key player at Ernst & Young. Interestingly enough, she first joined their company as an employee at their South African branch before relocating to Calgary. Two years later, she moved to Vancouver, which is where her career fully blossomed.

In 2005, after a few of working at Ernst & Young’s Western Canadian commodity tax practice, she was appointed Managing Partner of their Canadian Tax practice. What’s more? She’s the first woman to ever hold that type of position in any of the Big Four firms! How inspiring is that? She currently holds both titles of Managing Partner, Vancouver and Western Canada and Chief Inclusiveness Officer.

Fiona’s also been a member of various committees and boards. For instance, she used to be a cabinet member of Pathways to Education, which helps disadvantaged individuals finish their education – she’s a huge supporter of diversity!

“You’re going to be most successful if you do things because you care about them – because they align with your values. You’ll give more.” Fiona Macfarlane, [Source]

This is valuable advice for any student who’s still looking for their true calling. The majority of students and grads today want to love what they do and do what they love. Fiona’s success is hard proof that your passions can fuel your drive!

When these women first started their careers, they were no different than you are right now. Their achievements may seem out of reach for a professional who’s just starting out, but who’s to say you can’t become a role model for the next generation of students?