Search 
 
 
 

Sauder has a strong tradition of accelerating the growth of female leadership in Canada and beyond. With female faculty publishing ground-breaking research and graduates securing high-level positions around the world, this International Women’s Day we wanted to spotlight some of Sauder's outstanding alumnae. In a series of Q&As they provide insight into how they achieved business success.


Sue Paish, Connie Fair, Geri Prior and Susan Yurkovich were recently named among Canada’s 100 most powerful women of 2012. The tenth annual “Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards 2012”, presented by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN), recognize the professional achievements of women across the country - in the public, not-for-profits and private sector.

 

Connie Fair

Connie FairAs President and CEO of BC Assessment, Fair has received the Public Sector Leaders award. She earned her BCom (1984) and her MBA (1988) from UBC. Fair is the trustee of the Sauder Business Club of Vancouver.

Q: What is the one thing to which you attribute your success?
A: “For me, success at work is being able to spend my time in a challenging environment I enjoy where I can make a difference. So, in order to be successful, I have to be able to draw a connection between what I spend my time on at work and how that makes a difference to other people. As soon as I can make that connection, the rest is pretty simple. Success requires me to stay true to a long-term vision and collaborate with others to make it happen.”

Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
A: “I believe that in order to appropriately support women in the workplace, organizations must support and provide flexibility to those female employees who choose to become mothers.
My experience is that working mothers will be incredibly dedicated staff members who will stay with the organization for a long time as long as they have the support they need to also be a good parent involved in their children’s lives.”

 

Geri Prior

Geri PriorAfter graduating from Sauder with a BCom in 1983, Prior has worked for ICBC, holding positions such as assistant vice-president, interim president and CEO, and currently the CFO. Prior has also received the Public Sector Leaders award.

Q: What is the one thing to which you attribute your success?
A: “I have always stayed true to my values and I think I’ve gained credibility as a leader because I’ve operated this way. We all face situations either personally or professionally where occasionally we get pressured to veer away from our values and what we know is right.  It’s easy for a leader to say they have certain values but effective leaders consistently make decisions and behave in ways that align with their values.”

Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
A: “I am fortunate to work in an organization where this barrier does not exist but I know of many sectors, companies, and Boards where this is not the case. Until boards and organizations start to hire and promote leaders who have demonstrated they support the creation of a diverse candidate pool, this change will be slow. The best candidate should get the job, but the pool from which the candidate is chosen should be a fair representation of the diversity in the workforce or the pool from which candidates are drawn.”

 

Sue Paish

Sue PaishA four-time Top 100 Award-winner (2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012), Paish was inducted into the WXN Hall of Fame. She earned her BCom from Sauder in 1981 and is the president and CEO of LifeLabs.

Q: What is the one thing to which you attribute your success?
A: “Being personally happy. As a youngster I had the good fortune to be put in situations where I needed to find my way, figure things out and be innovative. Although it may not have seemed so at the time, these experiences, coupled with the ever present but not overpowering encouragement from my parents and others to do whatever would make me happy, gave me the confidence to determine the kind of life I wanted to live and to grow into that life over the years.”

Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
A: “Personally, I don’t see any. If we choose to live our lives on our terms, to accept that our decisions have consequences, to find the path that leads to our own personal happiness, we can do pretty much anything that we choose to do.”

 

Susan Yurkovich

 Susan YurkovichYurkovich is the executive vice-president at BC Hydro and received the Public Sector Leaders award. She earned her MBA from UBC in 1990 and has previously worked as advisor to the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and the Minister of National Defense. She is the governor of UBC.

Q: What is the one thing to which you attribute your success?
A: “Great parents who instilled in me a strong work ethic and the sense that nothing was beyond my reach if I worked hard and was open to opportunity.”

Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
A: “I think that a lot of barriers have come down for women in leadership roles which is really great.  I do think though that sometimes we can be more risk averse which can prevent us from taking advantage of opportunities that may be outside of our comfort zone.”