The lyrics of the song “In his hands he’s got the whole world, in his hands he’s got the whole, wide world…” were playing in my head this week, as I witnessed the achievements of women entrepreneurs. Time to change the words to “In her hands…
Between the W100 event and the Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala, I had the amazing pleasure of hearing the stories of truly exceptional, successful and award-winning women entrepreneurs. While each was in a different type of business, from making roads to working in the mining industry, what struck me was the passion and tenacity with which the women led and drove their businesses. Several were working in male-dominated businesses where they had to work hard, show their grit and determination to prove themselves.
All of this emphasized to me how much you have to believe passionately in yourself, your dream and your vision, because without doubt you will be tested along the way, if not by others, definitely by yourself. Even one of the award winners, Tamara Barker Watson, admitted that there were times when she was riddled with self-doubt and she couldn’t believe she was a finalist for the Sustainability Award, let alone win it.
I have been attending the Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Gala for years now and it is quite fascinating how it has evolved in terms of the finalists for these prestigious awards. First they seem to be getting younger – now this could be reflection on my age – I mean I am getting older, but one finalist, Michele Romanow of Buytopia was just 28 when she started her business a couple of years ago. Twenty-eight. I was home having my first baby at that age, not building a business that was ranked #3 on the Profit Hot 50 ranking.
There is also more diversity in terms of what the women actually do. While at one time we seemed to gravitate to human resources or service-based industries, today’s entrepreneurial women are venturing into businesses that were once in the male domain such as drilling, mining, ocean research, freight logistics and technology.
Women are also recognizing the wealth of potential beyond Canada and are reaching out beyond our country. Momentum Award winners Victoria Sopik and Jennifer Nashmi of Kids & Company will be opening their first child care centre in Chicago. And as for Shannon Rogers of Global Relay, the majority of her work is outside of Canada and she works in 90 countries, providing cloud-based message archiving.
All of this speaks to the fact that as women we can get into any business we want, anywhere we want and what likely holds us back is ourselves. So let’s celebrate and honour these role models and just go for it, as they’ve paved our way.