Friday, June 24, 2011

All the Opportunities to Succeed

Earlier this week we attended the Canadian Briefing. The day was full of information, networking  and unbelievable energy!  I noticed there was a significant increase in people from last year’s trip, but it was great to see the returning businesses too! We received a profile booklet with all the Canadian companies and delegates at the conference. Everything you needed to know was in the booklet!

The morning started with networking opportunities and speakers throughout the day who were all very informative and extremely supportive. One of the speakers was Josie Mousseau, Deputy Director of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT). DFAIT has many programs that are supportive of women in international trade. Another speaker, Mary Grossman, the Deputy Consul General and Senior Trade Commissioner, also offered her assistance to the participants. We had the chance to meet with over twenty new businesses at the set of roundtables that day, as well. Kenyatta Lewis, Director of Supplier Diversity at MGM Resorts International, discussed how to do business with MGM, and now two Canadian businesses have meetings with Kenyatta this week. What an opportunity!

I also had the opportunity to speak on the behalf of TD’s increased footprint in the United States and the importance of having a Foreign Exchange Risk Management Strategy. Overall, I was amazed at the collaboration that was going on with the women business owners. There was no competition, rather, everyone working together.

- Shelley LeBrun
TD Bank of Canada

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Embrace WEConnect, Get Certified

The Export for Success participants joined women business owners from across the country at the Canadian Briefing here at the WBENC Conference.   Josie Mousseau, Deputy Director, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) did a fantastic job organizing a full agenda that allowed the business owners to network, learn and share best practices on how to leverage business through supplier diversity programs.  WEConnect Canada's Betty Wood and Mary Anderson were present to lend their expertise to both certified and non-certified women business owners. They also welcomed the new President and CEO of WBENC, Pamela Prince-Eason.  The combination of presentations from the Consul General Los Angeles, Shelley LeBrun of TD Canada Bank and round table "speed networking" set the room buzzing with chatter about how to access global supply networks.

The highlight of the afternoon was a presentation by Kenyatta Lewis, Director of Supplier Diversity of MGM Resorts International.  Kenyatta was incredibly engaging, funny and a great source of information for the audience.  With over 62,000 employees, MGM Grand operates a multitude of properties and purchases everything from frozen appetizers to cleaning services. Looking for innovative, sustainable products and services, MGM Grand spends billions of dollars every year.  She encouraged the women business owners to embrace certification through WEConnect Canada.  Several Canadian companies had prearranged meetings with Kenyatta through the Consul General's office in LA and were hoping to access new business through their supplier diversity program.

Another engaging presentation was made by a panel on how to leverage supplier diversity programs through WEConnect certification.  Numerous tips were given by three successful business owners including Ruth Grady, Northern Abrasives, PEI; Leslie Meingast, The Personnel Department, BC, and Stephanie McLarty, REfficient Inc., ON.   They all shared their personal experiences on making connections with Fortune 500 companies and encouraged the women to be persistent in their pursuit of new business.   

The day wrapped up with an International reception with delegates from China, India, UK, Peru and of course Canada. 

- Tanya Priske
Lead Project Manager
Centre for Women in Business

A Whole New Level of Collaboration

Great first day of Canadian delegates – a whole new level of collaboration in the room.  We had very focused and informative roundtables to explore our needs from the conference and learn more about each other.  We had fabulous roundtable meetings with corporate last night, as well.  I walked right into one of my top 5 corporate meetings, had a great conversation with the diversity supplier and now know exactly who to ask for at their trade show booth! Business owners love the support we're getting at the trade mission.

- Judith Richardson
PONO Consulting International 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All Businesses Today are "Global" - The First Day at Export for Success

The first official day of the WBENC conference provided more business opportunities for the participants of Export for Success than they had imagined.   Definitely a learning curve, the conference is so much more than just a conference.  The women who attend WBENC are there to do business, but also know building connections with corporations and other women business enterprises is as equally important as signing the contract. 

Our first keynote speaker was Annie Duke, one of the leading personalities in professional poker today.  What does poker and running a business have in common you ask?  Annie showed us the correlation between making important business decisions and making the winning bet.   But she wasn't the only jaw-dropping speaker we heard from.  Janice Bryant Howroyd, Chairman and CEO of Act-1 Group, a global leader in human capital solutions, shared why she embraces supplier diversity and WBENC.  Ms. Howroyd has built a $1.4 billion dollar business, and continues to attend WBENC each year, with her team, to network and develop valuable business relationships.  Another speaker who stood out to all of us was Patricia Rodriguez-Christain, CRC Group Inc.  A powerhouse not only on the women's front, she also supports the Hispanic Business Enterprises', the majority who are also women-owned businesses.  The one common theme from all of the speakers that resonated today was no matter what business you own, what sector you work in, all businesses today are "global" by the nature of the world we live in. 

One comment that was expressed by our own women business owners was they never would have made the contacts with corporations (like AT&T) and other powerful women business owners if they hadn't attended the WBENC conference. 

While we thought the day couldn't get much better, we met with the Indian delegation from Bangladore.  These charming ladies belong to a group called EMERG (similar to CWB) and all are either certified wbe's or in the process of becoming certified with WEConnect India.  Raji Rajalakshmi, President of eMERG and several of the women traveling with her, will be coming to Atlantic Canada in September as part of an inbound trade mission.  They are looking for opportunities to build strategic partnerships with women business owners in our region.  A huge shout out to Julie Fournier, ACOA, for bringing us all together and allowing us the opportunity to build our connections to this important trading partner.  The Centre has invited the members of EMERG to network with us via Skype!

- Tanya Priske

Lead Project Manager
Centre for Women in Business

From the Rooftop in Las Vegas

The reception on Sunday night was held for Canadian delegates to get to know each other in an informal setting. We met on the roof top, which had a spectacular view of Las Vegas! There were business owners from all across Canada: from Vancouver, British Columbia to Corner Brook, Newfoundland! One company I met had really innovative business cards; each card had a scanner code on it, where you would scan it with an iPhone and it’ll connect straight to your website. There were lots of WEConnect certified business owners from Canada who were happy to give us advice, as well as WEConnect certified businesses from Europe. It was a very relaxing evening with lots of great opportunities to network!

- Shelley LeBrun
 TD Bank of Canada

Ready to do Business!

When the invitation came for WBENC 2011, I registered right away.  As a member of WeConnect, in my first year, I have been exposed to major corporations in the US, Canada and the UK.  I took advantage of the Tuck Business School and spent over a week with WBE’s from the US learning how to run our companies more effectively and productively and profitably!!  I was working with a client in London, called WeConnect UK and had meetings there as well – WBE’s travelling in by train to meet with me.  At the Toronto Conference I met a diversity supplier from the US and asked her to mentor me and we’ve been meeting by teleconference.  My company’s exposure has doubled, we have won contracts, we have developed an export strategy.  This all has built my confidence and ability as CEO to extend a growing client company who asked me to serve as EVP to the CEO and in this year’s meeting, my accountant described my company as “in better shape than ever – the banks will love this”!  All of which shows big business – we are ready to do business….

- Judith Richardson
PONO Consultants International

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Catching Up at the 2011 WBENC Conference!

It was great to see some returning businesses from across Atlantic Canada in the in-class training this year which was held in May!  Nice to share in their successes from the last trade mission – the trip to Baltimore for the WBENC Conference in June 2010.  I think that everyone who attended this year walked away with some good information.  Some of the tips in the two-day training program included how to be prepared for such an immense trade show.  You need to put yourself out there – this type of experience is not the time to be a wall flower – meet as many people as you can because you never know where it will lead.  Take a box of business cards with you and make sure they are the right kind of card for this type of trade show.  Follow up immediately after the show with the contacts you met.  

The training program also reiterated that you need to have a plan before you go – who do you want to meet and what is your goal?  If you don’t ask for business, you will never get it.  If you are successful in getting new business from the trade mission, make sure you do a business plan to ensure that you are increasing your bottom line.  It is important to have a foreign exchange plan so you can protect yourself from adverse fluctuations in the dollar.  Really, it’s everything we need to do normally when trying to get new business, just in a much bigger, high-energy atmosphere!

- Shelley LeBrun

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pre-departure message from Shelley LeBrun!

TD Bank is pleased to once again be involved with the Centre for Women in Business and WBENC as Atlantic Canadian women head to Nevada for this year’s trade mission. We decided to get involved with the initiative last year as we saw this as a great opportunity for Atlantic Canadian businesses.  Myself, and everyone here at TD Bank, hope our support will help to continue the wonderful work the Centre does.

At last year’s trade mission in Baltimore, I was amazed at the relationships that were formed!  The experience was AMAZING! There were so many people eager to help everyone else succeed; it was truly an uplifting and motivational experience to be a part of.

Whether you get direct business from the conference, or not - I think the trade mission has been, and will continue to be extremely beneficial for these women. There was just so much to learn from the experience and so many extraordinary women to meet.

The CWB team takes very good care of their participants while abroad. You will never feel on your own with all their support! This is a team that will help you with anything and everything.  I am proud that TD Bank is once again apart of this exciting event!

Stay tuned for more from Nevada!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Trade Mission to Nevada!

Excitement is in the air as Centre team members; Tanya Priske and Sonia Menendez prepare to lead a group of women business owners to The Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBENC) Conference in Nevada. Tanya Priske, Project Manager, and the Centre’s new Executive Director, Sonia Menendez, will accompany representatives from our partners ACOA, TD Bank and NSBI. Travelling with these partners will be 6 Atlantic women who own diverse businesses ranging from HR services, to promotional products, to tea! At the conference they will learn of many opportunities available to women-owned businesses through supplier diversity programs in place at many Fortune 500 companies.

The conference, being held June 20-23, in Nevada, allows an opportunity for 3,000 women-owned businesses to pitch their products and services to Supplier Diversity representatives from Fortune 500 companies across the USA. It will be an action-packed few days with workshops, networking activities, and keynote speakers. The conference will end with a trade show at which more than 330 exhibitors of major companies will set up booths and allow the women to work the floor, promoting their products and services to these interested buyers.

This is the third trade mission ACOA has supported and the Centre for has been involved in. Karen Donnelly, Project Manager at the Centre, led a group to the Caribbean in 2009 in partnership with EduNova. Last year, Tanya Priske and Gordia Macdonald joined partners to lead a similar group of Atlantic Canadian women to the WBENC Conference in Baltimore.

Over the next few days these Atlantic Canadian women will share some stories from the road and experiences from the conference, as they head off to showcase their wares and tell the world who we are!
Have fun ladies!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Successfully Speaking

Ever listened to someone speak, marvelling at how smoothly they conveyed their ideas without an um, ah or pause? Ever observe a peer speak at a moment’s notice with poise and eloquence? Ever marvel at that individual in a business meeting that accurately makes a motion for a decision to be made? Ever envy the facilitator of a meeting for their ability to preside over the proceedings, keeping the meeting on track and on time? Are you nodding? Are you thinking, “yes! I want to be able to do those things!”?

For the women of Successfully Speaking Toastmasters Club - business owners, Mount faculty and staff, and women from the community employed in various organizations - these are just some of the skills that they have been honing on a bi-weekly basis for the past two years. Each club meeting is run as a business meeting with a chair, there are prepared speeches delivered by members, and there is feedback given throughout the meeting . You might say that Toastmasters embodies the 4-H motto of “learn to do by doing”.

Members take turns at each meeting doing different roles so that they learn how to chair a meeting, deliver a speech, or evaluate a speech. The interesting thing is that feedback is given through the use of various evaluators: there’s someone listening and counting how many times people say um, ah or those other filler words that we so often use when speaking; someone else is listening for the proper use of grammar; there’s another person timing the various parts of the meeting to keep it on track and on time. (You’ve probably been in a meeting or two in your past where you’ve wished that the chairperson had better time management skills!) There’s a ‘word of the day’ and members are encouraged to use it when speaking during the meeting so that they can build their vocabulary.

The Centre got involved in Toastmasters in 2009 at the suggestion of a member, because it provides an opportunity for women in business to develop the communication and leadership skills and confidence that are so important in managing a business. With support from the Centre, Successfully Speaking was launched and continues to meet on the Mount campus on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Why not try out a meeting and see what it’s like to learn hands-on. Visit for more info or email the club.