What do The Veteran, The General, The Chief and The Commissioner all have in common?
They’re women who have been or are currently in top roles within Canada’s military or security organizations and they shared their insights about leadership at a Famous5 Enbridge Speaker Series event held in downtown Ottawa on Oct. 26, 2016.
Famous 5 Ottawa, a volunteer organization that honours women as nationbuilders, partnered with Women in Defence and Security, a volunteer organization that promotes the advancement of women leaders in defence and security professions across Canada. to host the lunch-hour panel discussion at the Shaw Centre, a sold out affair with more than 350 guests.
The panel featured Canadian Forces Lt.-Gen. Christine Whitecross, Greta Bossenmaier, Chief of the Communications Security Establishment, and Canadian Coast Guard Commissioner Jody Thomas. The discussion was moderated by Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. McCrimmon is a veteran and also the first woman who to command a Canadian Forces flying squadron.
Women and Leadership was the theme of the luncheon and the impressive panel enlightened the crowd with stories of their personal leadership learnings, how they have been challenged and grown as leaders, as well as offering advice based on their experiences.
They stressed how being engagement-oriented, helping colleagues achieve success, learning what works and what doesn’t work shaped how they became successful leaders. It is also important to remember, they said, that leadership is not about an individual but rather a reflection of how a team works together.
The event was kicked off by the 2016 Norton Rose Fulbright Mentorship recipient, Cadet Hyunji (Ann) Lee, a fourth-year business student at the Royal Military College, who introduced the panelists. Lee noted that it was great to be growing up in a time when it is not unusual to see women in senior positions in the military. She credited Whitecross, Bossenmaier, Thomas and McCrimmon as role models who have set the standard in breaking down barriers for women seeking opportunities in non-traditional careers.
The packed house included a number of Members of Parliament and Senators, as well as Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Liberal MP Roger Cuzner. Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan prepared a video greeting, which was played at the luncheon. Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Johnathan Vance and several members of the Canadian Forces also took in the event.