Danielle Leroux and the She Summits Forum

August 22, 2022

Danielle Leroux, CMNS alumna, is a founder of the She Summits Forum, an impact-driven community platform that reduces female burnout and champions women in the workplace. The She Summits Forum platform provides access to coaching, industry experts, tools, and resources to help women reduce burnout, increase joy, and thrive in work and life. Their platform also hosts live virtual events and in-person meetups in nature and is home to a thriving online community. The She Summits Forum team have even curated powerful short films designed to engage and empower. Their mission? To ignite the untapped potential within one million self-identifying women by 2025.

Danielle sat down with us to chat about her company and experience at SFU's School of Communication.

Why do you think it's important to have a company like the She Summits Forum?

More women are burnt out than ever before. According to a 2022 Deloitte study, 46% of women feel burned out in 2022, and 53% say their stress levels are higher than a year ago. Burnout is the top factor driving women away from employers. In fact, nearly 40% of women who are actively looking for a new employer cited burnout as the main reason.

At the same time, companies are struggling to retain and engage employees, but replacing an employee is a huge hit to your bottom line. Replacing a mid-level employee can cost 20% of their annual salary, while replacing a high-level employee can cost over 200% of their salary.

We also know that investment in employee wellbeing and female leadership drives profitability, engagement, and retention. Companies with women leaders are more profitable, companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable, and engaged emplyees are 59% less likely to seek out a new job.

Through our programming, community, and resources, the She Summits Forum helps reduce female burnout and engage women in the workplace so that organizations can increase profitability and retention.

Did you always know you wanted to go into this sort of field?

The short answer? No. But in hindsight, my career and education choices have all been driven, consciously or not, by a passion for innovative community engagement and community building and wanting to make a positive impact. I feel very fortunate to be in this role as co-founder.

Since leaving SFU, you have been super successful. How did your SFU experience in the School of Communication help shape your success?

That is very kind. My experience has been integral to my success! I think having strong communication skills is one of the best assets an entrepreneur and business owner can have and has truly made me a more well-rounded founder.

My degree has served me in many ways, particularly from a critical thinking and writing point of view. From being able to write pitch decks, emails, and business plans to marketing and communications strategies to research and data collection.

What is something you know now that you wish you would've known when you first graduated and entered the workforce?

You're exactly where you need to be. When I graduated, I was sure I would get a job in the arts, based on my undergraduate degree in music and my master's thesiss on a community arts project. But I ended up working for eight years for an industry association that lobbies on behalf of the private liquor industry. This gave me invaluable work experience and exposure to what it is like to run a business.

What is your favourite memory from SFU?

Ine of my earliest memories from grad school is when our entire class decided to do the Grouse Grind the first week of school. I had only just moved to Vancouver and while heard of the Grouse Grind, had never attempted it. It was a bonding experience to say the least!

What personal experiences have shaped your career goals?

In 2018, I traveled to the Alps to do the Tour du Mont Blanc: a 170km hike through France, Italy, and Switzerland. Prior to the trip, I had been thinking about starting a business around my passions, and the trek was a turning point for me. I returned from the trip, ended a former business partnership, and started my previous business Renew Retreats -- #1 hiking retreats for women in BC. Renew would later lead me to my now business partner in the She Summits Forum, Laura van der Veer.

Long distance hiking and running have been integral to my personal and professional growth, improving my resilience and helping me embrace hard things.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I love running on the seawall and local trails and hiking in the Sea to Sky region.

Who is someone that inspires you and why?

I feel fortunate to be surorunded by incredible female founders who inspire me daily with their grit, scrappiness, and kindness. From a business perspective, I am inspired by Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. She pushed past people's questioning and limiting beliefs, has done things her own way, and has given back in big ways along the way.

What advice do you have for current CMNS students?

Take advantage of everything school has to offer -- outside of just your courses -- and the freedrom in your schedule. Build relationships with people in other disciplines and get involved in different community groups.

What projects are you currently working on?

We recently closed our pre-seed funding round for the She Summits Forum to facilitate our growth over the next twelve months. We are focused on solidly establishing the She Summits Forum brand and working with organizations in BC in 2022 so that we are ready to expand to new provinces in 2023.

What are your five-year aspirations for the She Summits Forum?

Besides our mission of igniting the untapped potential within one million women by 2025, we want to be in provinces across Canada, employing a small team of women, and working with 300+ organizations. In the future I would love to be able to invest in other female-founded companies.

Are there any She Summits events coming up?

Every month we host a hiking meet up in the Lower Mainland, coaching workshop, and virtual panel discussion.

 

Learn more about and join the She Summits Forum here by visiting their website here, or by signing up for a free six-month membership trial here.

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