Rona Ambrose doesn’t mince words when speaking about the dearth of women leaders in key decision-making roles, and the reason she created the She Leads Economic Council of Alberta.
“I don’t think women in leadership get enough exposure. I look at the Chambers of Commerce, the Economic Council of Canada, and they’re almost entirely male. My view was to create a group of women business leaders, so that when we meet with key decision-makers, they are going to be exposed to the most accomplished women in this province and get brilliant advice on how to run this province and this country well.”
The Alberta-led, first in Canada council, is co-chaired by former Saskatchewan Minister of Finance Dr. Janice McKinnon. It brings together accomplished women business leaders and innovators who have a tremendous impact on the Alberta economy – they are experienced job creators and wealth generators.
Demand creates innovation
The Alberta-born former federal environment minister was the youngest woman ever appointed to a federal cabinet in Canadian history. Her upbringing and experience give her an unique perspective on the resource development challenges Alberta faces today.
“I think Alberta is suffering economically, and the times when people need to really innovate are when times are toughest,” she says.
“People start to look for other ways to create revenue. And so today we have people who are starting new businesses, whether it’s because they have lost their job in another sector, or decided they no longer want to be part of the boom or bust cycle associated with the energy business.”
The She Leads Economic Council of Alberta promotes innovation to advance the ideas coming out of a new economy, in which diversification is important and solving problems with new ideas is critical.
“We are harnessing the power of these great women leaders to promote the great work and innovation of incredible women.”
Changing the way we do business in Alberta
Ambrose is inspired by Council members who are finding new ways to solve long-standing problems. She cites a Council member who was determined to advance the idea of using railway cars to transport oil to market as an alternative to pipelines.
“This particular woman was one of the driving forces behind convincing the government to actually buy railway cars to be able to move oil to market and create thousands of jobs and help Alberta’s economy,” she says.
The innovative solutions being incubated by the Council areas diverse and interesting as the women involved. Several women are working in cooperatives, promoting their importance as a business model in diversifying the provincial economy,for example. Another woman is working on climate change and environmental issues in the oil and gas sector – using leading edge technology to create incredible new uses for oil and gas byproducts, like healthy additives for smoothies to plastics we use in our day to day lives. The design engineer ensures that everything in the extraction and development process is used, from end to end, and that nothing goes into the environment.
“We are making use of things right here in our back yard and creating a ton of value. Women are changing the way we do business. It’s really inspiring.”
Inspired by fearlessness
Inspiration comes in many forms, and Ambrose has many role models she looks up to in both her political and personal lives. She speaks of former Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell paving the way for female leadership in federal politics.And about her grandmother, who started a school for Aboriginal children who would otherwise not have easy access to education.
Ambrose believes that pushing through fear is key, whether it’s raising your hand in class or running for public office.
“You’ll be better for it. You will accomplish what you want to accomplish, but you’ll also become an incredible role model. Our world is full of incredible role models, and the women that we’re highlighting in Alberta though this UN initiative (SHEInnovates Alberta) are perfect examples. They’re incredibly accomplished, diverse, smart women who have so many things on the go in their lives, and who also happen to be accomplished in their careers. It’s important for women and girls to see examples of women accomplishing their goals in so many different ways.”
For further information please visit: www.RonaAmbrose.com
The number one way to create opportunities for others to succeed: Be a mentor.
There are a lot of important things that go into creating a healthy, supportive and positive environment for girls and women.
Research shows that the most effective way to create a supportive environment for women to succeed in is mentorship. Mentorship programs become all the more important when we see research showing that it works and works better than any other strategies we can employ. Mentorship can happen at informal and more formal levels.
“If you have an opportunity to mentor someone, do it.“