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Executives offer ‘flexible’ career strategies at Toronto event

Wednesday, March 6, 2013  
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Senior executives from some of the industry’s largest companies offered nearly 300 Network of Executive Women members advice on navigating the path to success -- and staying in the driver's seat during that journey, at the NEW Toronto spring networking event March 5, 2013 in Mississauga, Ont.

The sold-out event, held at the Mississauga Convention Centre, marked the one-year anniversary of the NEW best practices report "Women, Leadership and the Power of the Purse: Gender Diversity in the Canadian CPG Retail Industry.” Findings in the groundbreaking report fueled discussion among the panelists, including Mary van Praag, general manager of Coty Canada; Carol Stewart, president and CEO of Kellogg Canada Inc.; Chris Vickers Tucker, president and general manager of The Clorox Company of Canada Ltd.; and Miyo Yamashita, partner, enterprise risk at Deloitte. NEW President and CEO Joan Toth moderated the discussion. The panelists shared their own career experiences and spoke to themes integral to success, including strategic flexibility, diversity of experience, and sponsorship and mentorship.

"Leadership is about being open to new experiences and about frank discussions,” Yamashita said. "It's also vital to be able to help people get 'on the bus,’ including people who would not be inclined to get on the bus together.” Speaking to the importance of having a sponsor, Tucker said: "Women tend to approach things with, ‘If I do a good job I will be noticed,’ whereas men will do a good job and make sure it's known. It's important to strike that balance. Career is 50 percent content and 50 percent luck and you have to spend time cultivating relationships. Sponsors have skin in the game.”

Go 'global'

Panelists agreed: Career mobility can be enhanced by working on teams and assignments that offer "global experience,” without requiring actual relocation. "Put yourself out there,” Stewart advised. "You have to get out of your comfort zone. It is also vital to have a support system that will support your success.” The executives said a combination of learning, self awareness, reflection and a wealth of experiences both inside and outside the industry shaped their lives and leadership skills. They also agreed on the importance of speaking up.

"It's important that women need to ask for what they want,” van Praag said. "Find your voice and your passion. Speak from that voice and show up and have an opinion. Take risks. To be a leader you have to be visible.” "Ask more questions,” Stewart added. "As a leader you have to ask for the hearts and minds of your people and you have to be willing to give them yours.”

Among the organizations sending delegations to the event were The Clorox Company of Canada, ConAgra Foods, Coty Inc., General Mills Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, The Hershey Company, Kellogg Canada Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kraft Canada, Nestlé Waters Canada, SC Johnson and Walmart Canada. 

NEW President and CEO Joan Toth leads a panel discussion with
Miyo Yamashita of Deloitte, Chris Vickers Tucker of The Clorox
Company of Canada, Carol Stewart of Kellogg Canada Inc. and
Mary van Praag of Coty Canada.


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