Sponsoring Women to Executive Positions

Time and Date: 4:00-5:30 PM on Friday, May 22
Session Type: Panel
Location: Blusson Hall, Room 10011

Studies have shown that women are just as likely as their male peers to have had at least one mentor at some point in their careers, but are they finding the right mentors at the right time? And, if women are being mentored as thoroughly as these studies suggest, why aren’t they moving into higher management positions?

There is a special kind of mentorship—called sponsorship—in which the mentor goes beyond giving feedback and advice and uses his or her influence with senior executives to advocate for the mentee. High-potential women are undersponsored relative to their male peers—and they are not advancing in their organizations. Furthermore, without sponsorship, women not only are less likely than men to be appointed to top roles but may also be more reluctant to go for them. So how do we effectively mentor and sponsor those women?

Moderator: Anna Stukas
Panelists: Amy Gonzales, Michael KennedyCheryl Kristiansen, Louise Turner

Anna Stukas is an independent consultant who works with technology companies to develop, grow, and expand their business. A mechanical engineer by training, Anna’s work focuses on bridging the gap between technology and business: from patent portfolio management to navigating the regulatory landscape for emerging technologies, to playing an instrumental role in the creation of international regulations that now allow carriage of fuel cell powered portable devices onboard passenger aircraft. Previously, Anna worked with the BiC Corporation - an international consumer products company, and Angstrom Power - a privately funded start-up focused on developing micro fuel cells, and was a key member of the team that negotiated the successful acquisition of Angstrom by BiC. Anna’s belief in the need for strong, positive role models to inspire women and girls to enter, and stay, in non-traditional fields led to her involvement with organizations including the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST), Minerva and the University of Victoria’s Leadership through Diversity programme in the Faculty of Engineering – where she also earned her Bachelor’s Degree. Anna is also the Program Chair of Creating Connections 4.0.

Amy Gonzales is Vice President of Global Learning and Development for WOMEN Unlimited, Inc., where she oversees the development, delivery, and impact of learning programs worldwide for their acclaimed leadership development programs for women. In addition, she consults globally to F1000 companies and multinational agencies in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific, specializing in executive presence, personal power, and influence. She brings over 15 years of experience as a senior manager in technology and service companies.  

Amy holds degrees in Organizational Behavior and Management from the University of San Francisco and Lasell College in Boston. Her research study findings on the glass ceiling, mentoring, and career advancement for women have been cited in Working Woman and Business Week magazines as well as various trade journals. Amy has been honored by Lifetime Television for Women in recognition of her commitment to achieving parity in the workplace. Bottom line: she loves her work!

Michael Kennedy is the Regional Leader for Stantec in British Columbia, providing leadership to a 950 person group of architects, landscape architects, engineers, planners, project managers, and environmental scientists. His 20+ year career has specialized in project and construction management leadership roles for Owners.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Management from the University of Manchester. He is a member of the UK-based Chartered Institute of Building, a Chartered Construction Manager and a Project Management Professional.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Michael is a dedicated member of the community. He is a founding executive committee member of the BC District Council of the Urban Land Institute, a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Victoria and serves on the Executive / Governors of the Business Council of British Columbia. In addition, he is a Director of the BC Cancer Foundation. In 2007, Michael was recognized with a Business in Vancouver “Forty under 40” award.

Through his family, he is past Chair of the Building Committee of Holy Trinity School, a member of the Development Committee of St Thomas Aquinas High School and he coaches rugby at the Capilano Rugby Club in West Vancouver.

Cheryl Kristiansen from SCWIST brings diverse expertise in project management, engineering innovation and leading transformative change in STEM.  She has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, hands-on experience in alternate fuels technology and senior leadership experience in the oil and gas sector, and has benefitted from both mentorship and sponsorship throughout her career. As Managing Director of the Mitchell Odyssey Foundation, Cheryl developed an effective network of Odyssey-supported schools across BC with innovative programs that motivate and inspire high school students to pursue careers in STEM. Cheryl is Project Manager for the new Make Possible Mentoring Network that encourages women to connect, collaborate and lead through a dedicated mentoring network in STEM.  The Make Possible Program is well aligned with SCWIST goals to empower women and girls in STEM, and incorporates the concept of 360 degree mentoring, as well as facilitating sponsorship opportunities to help advance women.

Louise Turner is the President of the Premier’s Technology Council. The Council reports directly to the Premier of British Columbia, recommending policies and programs to build BC’s knowledge economy and support the growth of our technology and knowledge- based companies.

Louise began her career working for the British Government and the European Union, creating and negotiating international trade policy. Arriving in Canada, Louise worked for Sir Terry Matthews at the telecom company Newbridge Networks Corporation, negotiating mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and corporate venture capital investments. Louise was the Director of Business Development for telecom start up Abatis Network Systems. She has worked with high tech startup companies and not for profit organizations in BC and led a three-year national policy initiative to enhance economic development in Western Canada through the growth of life science and medical device companies.

Louise has an MBA from Cranfield University, a leading European Business School with an emphasis on personal development, leadership and management skills and is a Certified Executive Coach. Louise is on the advisory board of THNK Vancouver, An international creative leadership program and on the board of the Rick Hansen Foundation.