What does it take to make it to the upper echelons of executive roles in Alberta’s power industry?
Hard work, mentorship, ingenuity, grit, courage, community…
No two career journeys are the same, and there is much we can learn from this female executive who has made it to the top in her field.
Don’t miss this fascinating conversation with Nicole LeBlanc, Vice President, Markets, at the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) where Nicole will share her experiences and challenges and offer advice on how to successfully navigate your career path in the power industry.
Do you have a question Nicole? Please email your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, June 16 and we’ll do our best to have your questions answered.
“There is nothing like a concrete life plan to weigh you down. Because if you always have one eye on some future goal, you stop paying attention to the job at hand, miss opportunities that might arise, and stay fixedly on one path, even when a better, newer course might have opened up.” – Indra K. Nooyi
Thank you to our event partner, AESO and AMP It Up!
Nicole LeBlanc is Vice President, Markets for the Alberta Electric System Operator. She is responsible for leadership of the AESO’s market design and implementation, forecasting, market analytics, commercial procurement and the ISO Tariff.
Ms. LeBlanc has nearly 20 years of experience in the energy and electricity sectors. Through her career with the AESO she has been involved in forecasting, transmission planning, electricity market analysis and design, policy development, tariff design, regulatory and strategic business planning.
Since joining the AESO in 2006 she has played leadership roles in the development of scenario planning processes and the modelling and analytics foundations used within the AESO. She has contributed to numerous government policies, spearheaded market and tariff design files, and represented the AESO at regulatory proceedings in a forecasting, markets, tariff and transmission planning capacity. Her service to Alberta’s electricity sector was recently recognized by the Alberta government with the Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal. Nicole is committed to making the AESO a great place to work – she’s fostered many new leaders on their development journeys and championed AESO’s first employee resource group whose vision is to amplify women’s career at the AESO through the power of connection.
Prior to joining the AESO, Ms. LeBlanc worked as an economist at the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI), where she focused on economic research and analysis of Alberta’s oilsands sector for client-funded projects.
Ms. LeBlanc holds a Masters of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics, both from the University of Calgary.
When taking a break from the interesting challenges of decarbonizing Alberta’s electricity system Nicole enjoys time outdoors with her husband biking, hiking and skiing and going to music concerts with friends.
Osler’s Paula Olexiuk and John Valley will use Osler’s eighth annual diversity disclosure report as a springboard to discuss key data points and developments relating to the representation of women on boards and in senior management positions of Canadian companies.
“After eight years, the change to board composition in Canada is now obvious and widespread as Canadian boards have surpassed several important diversity milestones on their journey to include more diverse perspectives in decision-making at senior levels within the organization. There is still much work to be done to achieve board and executive leadership that reflects the mosaic of Canada.”
Osler’s report provides detailed disclosure on the representation of women in senior leadership positions at TSX-listed companies as well as the representation of women, members of visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities at publicly-traded corporations governed by the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA). They also highlight disclosed best practices to improve diversity and inclusion and samples of excellence in disclosure.
A Q&A will follow the presentation and you will have the opportunity to ask questions that are relevant to the report methodology and findings, your industry, and your career. You are invited as a guest of Osler to join 75 of your fellow Women+Power members for a casual networking reception with food and refreshments.
Paula Olexiuk | Partner, Energy & Construction at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Paula is a Partner in Osler’s Commercial Department specializing in energy and construction law and is Co-Chair of the firm’s Construction and Infrastructure practice group.
Paula’s practice focuses on the construction, development, acquisition and divestiture of energy and infrastructure projects in Canada and abroad, with a particular focus on renewable energy and energy transition projects. She has experience in oil, gas, oilsands, LNG, power and renewable energy transactions and project development and engineering, procurement and construction matters.
John M. Valley | Partner, Corporate and Chair of the ESG Practice at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP | 2022 Diversity Disclosure Practices report co-author
John practices corporate and securities law, with a particular emphasis on corporate governance (including ESG-related matters) and mergers and acquisitions.
He is the Chair of Osler’s ESG Practice, and a member of Osler’s cross-disciplinary Risk Management and Crisis Response practice. He regularly advises companies and boards of directors on a range of corporate governance and ESG-related matters, including with respect to directors’ duties, D&O indemnification and insurance, stakeholder disputes, climate-related disclosure, crisis response strategies and other governance matters. John is also a co-author of Osler’s 2022 Diversity Disclosure Practices – Diversity and Leadership at Canadian public companies.
Women+Power is pleased to announce that we are hosting a Networking Reception on Day 1 of the IPPSA Conference at the Fairmont Banff Springs from March 12 – 14, 2023. Our reception will occur on Monday, March 13, 2023, from 5 to 6:30 pm in Mt. Stephen Hall.
Macquarie is a global financial services group with over 19,000 employees, operating in 34 markets. Macquarie’s purpose statement is to empower people to innovate and invest for a better future. “That’s why we ensure that our work has positive outcomes for our clients, teams, investors and the communities in which we live and work.”
Within Canada, Macquarie has completed over $33 billion of financing and M&A transactions since 2017, across power, resources and infrastructure. Macquarie supports 200+ natural gas clients, moving ~2.5bcf/d. Each year, Macquarie is consistently ranked among the top power and renewables advisors globally.
In no small part, this is a result of the value Macquarie places on developing and #empowering female talent within and outside of its organization. Macquarie shares the same vision as Women+Power and is proud to be part of a professional community in building a more diverse and inclusive future.
Women+Power looks forward to welcoming you to this event and we thank IPPSA for their support.
“It is a privilege to share company with the accomplished leaders and members of Women + Power. The success and influence of Women+Power within Canada is a reason to get excited for the future of power and energy markets. “
Women+Power is pleased to announce that we are hosting a Networking Reception on Day 1 of the IPPSA Conference at the Fairmont Banff Springs from November 13-15. Our reception will occur on November 14 from 4:45 – 6:15 pm in Mt. Stephen Hall. Appetizers and drinks will be provided. Please note that a conference pass is required to attend.
Based in Calgary, Alberta, Maskwa provides professional consulting services to power-sector clients in western Canada. The combined solutions offered by these organizations include regulatory strategy development and implementation, planning and permitting, environmental and GIS services, and comprehensive engineering services focused on the design and execution of high-voltage power and transmission projects.
While Maskwa has seen significant success and growth over the past few years, its leadership team is committed to ongoing improvement and exploring ways to create a corporate culture that fosters continued profitable growth. They acknowledge that this requires multiple initiatives versus any single initiative alone. However, one of the more salient, recent actions they have undertaken is to encourage diversity and inclusion in their workplace. One of the ways this is being done is by supporting Women+Power and our goal to empower women in the power industry to achieve their full professional and personal potential.
We recognize that the desire to have increased inclusivity and diversity in the workplace is not unique to Maskwa. We also believe that our commitment to this overall initiative, and the support of Women+Power, will at least contribute to the larger movement of driving transformational change to create a more diverse and inclusive power industry in Alberta. Success here will result in positive outcomes for our staff, overall company performance, and our industry.
Vice President, Maskwa
To learn more about Maskwa Environmental Consulting Ltd., click here.
Featuring Carolyn Dahl Rees, Chair of the AUC, and AUC Commissioners and staff
Thank you to everyone who attended our Educational Networking Event + Wine & Cheese, Behind the Doors of the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) Hearing Room, on September 28. The event provided a ’sneak peek’ into the hearing process and featured Carolyn Dahl Rees, Chair of the AUC, and AUC Commissioners and staff. The event was open to members only and sold out quickly. Participants enjoyed a networking session with presenters following the formal presentation.
Here are some of the comments we received following the event:
It was interesting to see the different aspects of the hearing process. I particularly liked how the commissioners talked about authenticity in the hearings.
Great tips and tricks from the Commissioners about participating in a proceeding. I think my team members gained some comfort with the AUC process and space.
As a regulatory professional, it was very helpful to hear exactly what the Commissioners are looking for from applicants/interveners.
This event was fantastic! It was great to hear about some of the changes the AUC implemented to improve efficiency and some of the dos and donts during a hearing. Great insights on what makes for a more efficient and compelling case.
It was great to hear AUC Commissioners and staff speak candidly about the application and hearing process.
If you missed this Women+Power event, please consider becoming a member to receive invitations to our exclusive offerings (membership is free!).
Featuring the Honourable Sonya Savage & the Honourable Whitney Issik
Thank you to everyone who joined us on October 4 at The Hudson for an exclusive luncheon with The Hon. Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy and The Hon. Whitney Issik, Minister of Environment and Parks.
We hosted approximately 300 attendees who listened intently to a discussion about the energy industry’s transition to net zero, and the valuable contribution women can make toward this goal and in the post-pandemic economic recovery. The event was emceed by Elaina Eifler, Chair of the Women+Power Events & Programs Committee and moderated by Sharleen Gatcha, Founder & CEO of Women+Power.
W+P would like to extend heartfelt thanks to both ministers for generously donating their time and sharing about the work of each ministry as it relates to the energy transition. Both of these women have moved into new roles following the recent appointment of Danielle Smith as Premier, and we wish them both tremendous success!
Here are some of the comments we received following the event:
There is a lot going on currently within the energy industry, and it’s good to see that impactful discussions are being had at all levels and not just on issues related to the environment.
The room was full of an incredible network of highly intelligent and successful women, which was amazing to see. That is a testament to Women+Power and the team running it.
The luncheon was a well-executed event at a fantastic venue. Both speakers were terrific, informative and highly engaging. I appreciated the comment about equity targets and the caution around setting targets without a strong plan to get there. Also tremendously informative to hear about the industry and the importance of energy security. Well done.
We need more of these types of events in the industry!
If you missed this Women+Power event, please consider becoming a member to receive invitations to our exclusive offerings (membership is free!).
A big thank you to The Hudson and Encore (AV team) for their work to ensure the event was a success and to our photographer, Fern & Pine Studios, for the outstanding photography! Finally, we thank our sponsors, partners and members for their continued support. We have more exciting things in the works for 2023. Stay tuned!
Executive search consultants say the No. 1 ask from boards recruiting new directors is CEO or CFO experience. In many sectors, where relatively few women attain CFO and, especially, CEO positions, this can hamper companies seeking to cultivate a diverse roster of directors.
But then there is St. John’s-based Fortis Inc. — a utility with $8.9 billion in revenue, $56 billion in assets and operations in five Canadian provinces, nine U.S. states and three countries in the Caribbean. Fortis has six women on its 12-member board. In addition to their diverse range of director experience, one is a former CEO, two are former CFOs, one is a former president, one is a former COO and the other is a former Chief Digital Officer.
How did they get there? The short answer is that Fortis didn’t restrict its search to women from its own sector. It’s a practice that many diverse boards have applied — yet, at first glance, one that seems more widely embraced in utilities and pipelines, which leads all sectors both in terms of the percentage representation of women directors on boards and in executive officer positions in the C-suite.
Along with Fortis, for example, boards at companies like Enbridge, Emera, TransAlta, Hydro One and Capital Power all count four or five women directors — former CEOs, presidents, CFOs, managing directors, group heads and the like.
However, even in this sector, there are examples of boards with only one woman director or none. The results achieved by other companies in this sector suggests those boards either just aren’t trying hard enough or aren’t making diversity a priority.
Latest diversity data
As noted, overall sector data compiled for Osler’s 2021 Diversity Disclosure Practices report establishes utilities and pipelines as the industry to emulate. In terms of the percentage of women directors, it leads with a mid-year 2021 mark of 35%, compared to 22.1% for the entire group of 614 TSX-listed companies that disclosed. The average of 3.71 women directors per utilities and pipelines board is more than double the TSX-listed average of 1.83 (629 companies disclosed).
Breakdown of number and percentages of women directors in 2021
In terms of women executive officers at mid-year 2021, utilities and pipelines ranked first overall in the average number of female executive officers per company at 5.08, compared to 1.69 for all the TSX-listed firms in Osler’s report (575 companies disclosed). On a percentage basis, women made up 30% of executive officers in the sector as of mid-year 2021, leading the pack in first place. The average for all the TSX-listed companies reporting in this category (565 companies) was 18.2%.
Breakdown of number and percentages of women executive officers in 2021
Trends since 2015
This sector’s positive story is also reflected in gains for women since 2015, both on boards and in the C-suite. The percentage of women directors at mid-year 2021 was up by 75% (35% versus 20% in 2015). The average number of women directors per board increased at roughly the same rate (3.71 at mid-year 2021 versus 2.06 per board in 2015). The percentage of women executives in the utilities and pipelines sector also doubled, according to Osler’s data (30% as of mid-year 2021 versus 15% in 2015) while the number of women executive officers per company increased at a more modest but still significant rate (5.08 versus 3.0).
Women executive officers in the utilities and pipelines sector
Similar data compiled by the Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC) [PDF], focusing exclusively on FP500 companies, shows a slower rate of change — at least among large utilities, which the CBDC measures separately rather than combined with pipelines. In that group, the percentage of women on boards grew from 27.1% in 2015 to 30.1% in 2018. The change was even more gradual for female executive officers (which the CBDC only started tabulating in 2016), going from 23.2% to 24.3% in 2018.
Best practices and sector leaders
The CBDC’s annual report card points to a couple of sector-wide trends that might help explain the relatively high rates of diversity in utilities and pipelines. According to that report, the utilities sector ranks first in the percentage of boards (55.6%) that have diversity targets for the number of women directors and second for boards that have a written diversity policy (66.7%).
Osler’s research has highlighted a pair of individual companies that have shown leadership in these specific areas.
Inter Pipeline Ltd.
In 2019, the corporation developed a diversity strategy with respect to the construction and operation of its Heartland Petrochemical Complex and also partnered with Women Building Futures. In 2019, Inter Pipeline invested $580,000 to support Women Building Futures in raising awareness and providing pre-apprenticeship training to women in Alberta’s Heartland area.
Inter Pipeline describes various initiatives intended to support its diversity strategy and commitment to advancing women and other individuals of different backgrounds at all levels of the organization. These include a formal internal networking group, formal leadership programs and its support of and partnership with Women Building Futures, an organization offering training for women looking to enter the construction, maintenance, transportation and home building industries. In 2020, the company established a Council for Diversity & Inclusion and introduced a mandatory unconscious bias training program for all employees.
To foster a more equal, diverse and inclusive environment, Emera annually analyzes pay equity, including (a) a wage gap analysis to track progress and identify challenges by affiliate, (b) the exercise of selective pay increases if wage disparity exists and (c) annual monitoring of the rates of women in leadership and senior leadership roles. As part of the company’s governance practices, a minimum of 30% of the board must be comprised of women — a target the organization has surpassed for many years. Currently, four of the directors on the 12-member board are women, including the chair.
Periodically, international consulting firm EY publishes a Women in Power and Utilities index that tracks diversity at the top 200 global utilities by revenue. Based on that data, women are under-represented in this sector in all regions around the world. But there are some significant differences.
The percentage of non-executive women directors on power and utility boards in North America (25%) and Europe (26%) is high, but those figures dwarf percentages in Latin America and the Caribbean (7%); Africa and the Middle East (11%) and Asia-Pacific (13%).
North American utilities have the highest percentage of women in senior management (22%) according to EY, followed by those in Europe (15%), Latin America and the Caribbean (13%), Africa (9%) and Asia-Pacific (9%).
The uneven progress between regions, and at a remaining handful of companies in Canada, is a target for further improvement. But in this sector, unlike some others, leaders and role models are close at hand.
We couldn’t be more thrilled with the support we received from our guests at our first member-only in person event on June 16, 2022! It was so great to meet so many of our members in the flesh and we thoroughly enjoyed connecting over some great conversation. We know this event has been a long time coming and we thank you for joining us at The RoofTop YYC!
Women+Power would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their support and donations. Your contributions made the event possible and allowed us to provide giveaways to our members in attendance:
Mr. Brett Wilson and The Rooftop YYC for providing us with a venue for the event at the most popular (and fully booked til forever) patio in town! It was many of our attendees first visit since the Rooftop’s expansion, and everyone was impressed. The food and drinks were delicious!
Anna Marie Chocolates for the generous donation of 10 boxes of beautifully hand-made chocolates . Anna-Marie has been creating chocolate delights for over 10 years. She attended a variety of chocolate courses, including “Bean-To-Bar” and Showpiece Creations. She is an avid culinary traveler and has tasted chocolates all around the world. To place an order or for more information, contact Anna-Marie at email@example.com.
A big thank you to Divine Creations for donating the exquisite flower arrangement that adorned our Network Event sign-in table until it was raffled off to one of our lucky attendees!
If you missed this event, please consider becoming a member to receive invitations to all of our exclusive offerings. Click here to join as a member today (membership is free!).
A big thank you to our sponsors for their continued support, and shout out to our newest sponsor,Enfinite, for recentlyjoining Women+Power at the Megawatt level. We have some exciting things in the works. Stay tuned!
I can’t say enough about this book or the author, Jessica Nordell (aka “JD”)! Goodreads describes The End of Bias: A Beginningas “a transformative, groundbreaking exploration into how we can eradicate unintentional bias and discrimination, the great challenge of our age”.
I had the opportunity to hear Nouman Ashraf (He/Him/His) interview Jessica about her book and it highlighted her findings which are nothing short of monumental! Anyone who wants to understand how unintentional/implicit /unaddressed bias impacts the workplace, everyone in it, the work we do, and the world in general (Hint: That’s ALL OF US!) needs to read this book. Some spoilers:
Implicit bias: persistent, unintentional prejudiced behaviour that clashes with our consciously held beliefs. We know that it exists with a corrosive and even lethal effect. We see it in so many places but are we able to step beyond recognition of our prejudice to actually change it?
With fifteen years’ immersion in the topic, Jessica Nordell digs deep into the cognitive science, social psychology, and developmental research that underpin current efforts to eradicate unintentional bias and discrimination. She examines diversity training, deployed as corrective but with inconsistent results. She explores what works and why: the diagnostic checklist used by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital that eliminated disparate treatment of men and women in disease prevention; the preschool in Sweden where teachers found ingenious ways to uproot gender stereotyping: the police unit in Oregon where the practice of mindfulness and specialized training has coincided with a startling drop in the use of force.
Thankfully, the book does bring good news. Biased behaviour can change; the approaches outlined in the pages can transform ourselves and our world.
We’re thrilled that Jana Mosley, President of ENMAX Power & Women+Power Board member, was honoured as the winner of the Influential Women award for Large Enterprises. Jana is a passionate leader and an incredible role model. She is currently completing her Executive MBA at Harvard while also being the President of ENMAX Power and a full-time mom to her three daughters.
“We need leaders who walk the talk. Who stand up for equality, no matter the personal discomfort. As someone who’s career has been enhanced by this woman’s mentorship and sponsorship, I can attest to the power that comes from the actions by this amazing leader, not just the words. (Although the words on Wednesday night were pretty amazing!) The biggest re-congratulations to Jana Mosley on this major recognition at the CIWB Awards!”
In addition to Jana’s award, the CIWB’s Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed upon Dawn Farrell, former President & CEO of TransAlta and current Chancellor of Mount Royal University.
Dawn retired as CEO & President of TransAlta Corp. in March 2021 after serving in the role for over 9 years. She helmed one of Canada’s largest independent power producers. Dawn led the transformation of the company to competitive power focused on low cost, low-emission and reliable solutions for large commercial and industrial customers.
As a large company CEO with a decade of experience, Dawn has led multiple complex mergers and acquisitions transactions, including floating TransAlta Renewables, completing a company-wide complex cultural transformation, critically evaluating and negotiating a complex off-coal transaction with the government, building a significant business presence in Australia, and executing private and public financial transactions to advance TransAlta’s strategic shift away from coal-fired generation.
As a community leader, Dawn is known for her deep policy work in electricity, the environment and ESG. She is a co-founder of the Alberta Business Council, has worked with the Canadian government on a roadmap for advancing renewable wind technology, and was a member of the Canada-U.S. Council for the Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. She also has extensive experience in negotiating agreements with First Nations in British Columbia.
Women+Power offers its profound congratulations to both of these remarkable women!
April 12, 2022, marked Equal Pay Day in Canada. The day symbolizes how far into the calendar year the average woman needs to work to earn what men, on average, earned in the previous calendar year. In other words, women, on average, need to work almost 15.5 months to earn what men, on average, make in just 12 months. Equal Pay Day represents pay inequity in Canada, also known as the gender pay gap, and is a day to bring attention to this persistent issue.
It is important to note that there isn’t just one pay gap — pay inequity is worse for women who are Indigenous, racialized, living with disabilities, immigrants or migrants, LGBTQI2S+, or elderly. Multiple forms of discrimination, in addition to gender, shape pay inequity. Pay inequity not only represents discrimination but is also a key contributor to economic insecurity.
Women+Power is committed to tackling pay inequity through the power of community and mentorship. We believe we can work together to address the challenges that result in and from the under-representation of women so that we can begin to develop opportunities to promote increased diversity and inclusion.
Post Author: Cherise Nielsen, Women+Power Board Member Book Author: Michael D. Watkins
Starting a new job is an exciting experience, but the transition to a new role can also be a very challenging time in a leader’s professional career. The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins provides “proven strategies for getting up to speed faster and smarter” for new leaders embarking on what Watkins describes as a “leadership transition”.
The two most common leadership transitions are (1) getting promoted within your current organization and (2) onboarding with a new organization.
Watkins provides essential tasks that will help you accelerate your transition and create momentum for greater success. These include:
Prepare yourself. Make a mental break from your old position and prepare for the new role.
Accelerate your learning. Climb the learning curve as fast as you can – be systematic and focused on how you learn most efficiently.
Match your strategy to the situation. Different situations present different challenges – is it a start-up or a turnaround?
Secure early wins. Early wins build credibility – identity ways to create value and improve business results.
Negotiate Success. Have critical conversations with your boss about the situation, expectations, resources, working styles, and resources.
Achieve alignment. Ensure the organization’s strategic direction is in line with the strategy.
Build your team. Be both systematic and strategic in your approach to team building.
Create coalitions. Supportive alliances are critical to achieving your goals.
Keep your balance. Maintain your equilibrium and perspective.
Accelerate everyone. Help everyone around you – direct reports, bosses, and peers accelerate their own transitions.
Watkins also provides helpful exercises and questions to help you set yourself up for success. One of these is a Transitional Risk Assessment. As you prepare for this transition, take note of the challenges and complexities that could pose risks to your success. These might include moving to a new industry, joining a new company, leading former peers, moving geographically, or entering a new organization where major change is already ongoing. Detailing and ranking these sorts of transitions will help you get a sense of the overall magnitude of the challenges you may face and the areas you should focus on.
Another exercise Watkins suggests is mapping out your first 90 days as a planning horizon. Begin by thinking about what you would like to accomplish on your first day, your first week, then the end of the first month, the second month, and finally the end of the third month. These plans can and will change, but the act of simply writing them down will help you focus on your goals and clear your mind.
The Economist has called The First 90 Days an “onboarding bible”, and I hope it helps you navigate transitions and growth opportunities throughout your career.