I didn’t have a direct path that led me here, that’s for sure. My experience is varied but what’s interesting is that no matter where I was working or what was happening around me, there were always 2 common elements – women and business.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My dad was the 16th generation in his family to be a fisherman. My parents were passionate about their livelihood – Dad started crossing off the days to the next fishing season for at least two months before it started. But fishing is a funny business – you can be consistent, hardworking and skilled, and still, struggle. Mother Nature is a terrible business partner. Bad weather, the cyclical nature of fishing stock and environmental changes can and did wipe us out from time to time.
So, my dad took an innovative approach to his unpredictable career – he tried different traps; experimental fisheries and started a Boat Tour business where he could share his love of the ocean with tourists visiting our Island (and create a whole new revenue stream for the business).
In the early 1980s, my mom was among the first wave of women to join their husbands on the boat. At a time when it was considered bad luck to have a woman on the boat, my parents ignored the criticism and made the best decision for our family – keeping as much of the fishing earnings as possible.
While my mom’s experience as a woman working in a man’s world opened my eyes to the challenge’s women face, my eight years working at Women’s Network PEI solidified supporting women to make dramatic changes in their lives as my life’s work.
I worked with hundreds of women on dozens of projects. Whether I was creating programs for women to explore careers in traditionally male occupations or managing large national projects featuring strong women like Indigenous leader Pam Palmater and former Prime Minister Kim Campbell women supporting women was the common theme.
It wasn’t until after I left Women’s Network that I understood the business skills I honed – growing a team from two to nine; managing budgets with a sharp pencil; and keeping all the balls in the air, to name a few!
What I do professionally fuels my love for business and supports what I believe to be true: If we have more profitable, women-owned companies, we have a better chance of employing and advancing more women. And we make a world that’s better for everyone.