Deakin, seven alumnae named to Most Powerful Women list

Special to Western News

Janice Deakin, Western provost and vice-president (academic)

Janice Deakin, Western provost and vice-president (academic), along with seven university alumnae have been named recipients of the 2014 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award, the Women’s Executive Network announced this morning.

Co-presented by Scotiabank and KPMG, the awards celebrate the professional achievements of women across the country in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

“Despite ever-changing styles and tastes, great leadership is timeless,” said Pamela Jeffery, Women’s Executive Network founder. “Top 100 award winners are a testament to the incredible range of female talent and leadership in Canada and proof that change is happening, with more women earning a place at the highest levels of Canadian organizations.”

As provost, Deakin, one of Canada’s foremost researchers in the area of elite athletic performance, oversees 12 faculties/schools, institutional planning and budgeting and IT services at the university. She was honoured in the Public Sector category.

“Within my own sector, progress to increase representation of women at the highest levels is exceedingly slow,” Deakin said of the ability to overcome barriers within postsecondary education. “Boards influence the hiring of university presidents and they have different records around diversity, including the representation of women. Organizations that recognize and embrace the value to be found in having a plurality of perspectives – in setting strategic direction and making the big decisions – are the ones, I believe, that will be best able to serve society and succeed in the global marketplace.”

Other Western winners included:


Stacey Allaster, BA’85, MBA’00, LLD’14
Women’s Tennis Association, chairman and CEO
Women’s Executive Network Hall of Fame

A consummate tennis professional named by Forbes Magazine as one of the Most Powerful Women in Sports, Allaster has held virtually every position imaginable in the world of tennis: from a junior to a collegiate player; to tournament director in Toronto; to vice-president of Tennis Canada; to president of the WTA; and now she serves as chairman and CEO of the world’s leading professional sport for women, the WTA. In 2011, WTA’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to extend her contract, setting her up to become the second-longest serving chairman and CEO in WTA history.

“You own your destiny. Be a trailblazer. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone,” she offered as advice to young leaders. “Your effort, your determination and your ability to strategically and politically navigate your career is your responsibility. Life’s journey is never straight or easy and if you can get your foot through the door – any door – you can make adjustments. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Go for it, create and seize opportunities, and be ready to challenge the status quo. Above all, love what you do.”

Rosemary McCarney, LLB’77
Plan Canada, president and CEO

Women’s Executive Network Hall of Fame

McCarney is one of Canada’s best-known ‘missionaries’ for social and economic progress in the Developing World. She has worked in more than 100 countries as a development consultant. For the past seven years, she’s been president and CEO of Plan Canada, an arm of Plan International, the global NGO that champions children in developing countries. McCarney has transformed Plan Canada from a low-key operation focused on child-sponsorship – it used to be called the Foster Parents Plan – into a sophisticated fundraising machine. She has tripled its annual donations from $50 million to $162 million and built a solid administrative structure.

“(My top achievement would be) getting the United Nations to agree to declare Oct. 11 of every year the ‘International Day of the Girl’ so we can shine a spotlight on the power and potential of girls everywhere and the barriers and abuses that prevent them from achieving their full potential in every country,” she said.

Kerry Peacock, EMBA’99
TD Bank Group, executive vice-president, retail banking products and services
Women’s Executive Network Hall of Fame

Peacock started her career almost 30 years ago as a loans clerk. Her tenacity and drive earned her increasingly responsible roles, leading to her current position as EVP Branch Banking TD Canada Trust. In this role, she develops, oversees and directs plans and strategies to optimize sales and customer experience, market share, revenue and profitability in TD Canada Trust’s more than 1,100 branches.

“The key barrier remaining for women is creating their own glass ceiling,” she said. “We limit ourselves by assuming we can’t do something and not taking the risk to try. We need to consistently assume we can. For example, I didn’t think I could ever take on a senior role leading a large group of people because I am not good at public speaking. A supportive boss told me I was the only one who assumed that and very few people are natural public speakers. So, I took the chance and moved to a large people leadership role that required me to do a lot of public speaking. I was able to engage the hearts and minds of my team.”

Laura Dottori-Attanasio, BA’88
CIBC, senior executive vice-president and chief risk officer
Corporate Directors category

Dottori-Attanasio brings 20 years of experience in the finance sector and three key leadership qualities – honesty, integrity and courage – to her role overseeing CIBC’s enterprise-wide risk management.

“I think we still have to tackle biases (for instance, hiring in your own image) in the workplace,” she said. “To overcome those, we need to hold management accountable and be persistent in creating the culture and environment that supports diversity. And you absolutely need leadership from the top.”

Catherine Karakatsanis, BESc’83, MESc’91
Morrison Hershfield, chief operating officer
Corporate Directors category

Karakatsanis brings extensive engineering and management experience to her role as COO, member of the board and secretary at Morrison Hershfield, an employee-owned (Top 100 North American engineering firm) consulting engineering and management firm.

“I am very grateful that I chose a profession that I truly find rewarding and that makes a difference,” she said. “I am proud that I have found acceptance and success in this male-dominated field, both within my firm as the first female partner, the first female executive and first female board member, and the profession at large, having been elected the chair of three regulatory and advocacy engineering organizations in Ontario and Canada.”

Kim Mason, BA’89
RBC, regional president, Atlantic provinces
Corporate Directors category

Now as regional president of Greater Toronto, Mason leads a team of 4,000 employees in providing financial advice and services to RBC’s personal, small business and commercial clients.

“Biases need to drop, both in the workplace for women and in the home for men, who may choose to stay home or take on a bigger role supporting the family unit to enable and support an aspiring woman leader,” she said. “The support system for men who choose this role is not yet well established or widely accepted in some areas. Women also need to find their assertive and confident voice to ask for consideration on roles for which they are competing.”

Angela Simo Brown, HBA’90
Air Miles for Social Change, Loyalty One, co-founder and general manager

Trailblazers and Trendsetters category

Since co-founding the AIR MILES for Social Change program in 2010, Simo Brown has been leading the social change and cause marketing program for the Air Miles Reward Program, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program. She has spearheaded numerous innovative cross-sector partnerships that use the powerful reach and popularity of the Air Miles Reward Program to drive positive social change in Canada. These innovative partnerships have established the Air Miles Reward Program as a powerful social behaviour change agent in Canada.

“Find your voice. Speak up and speak often,” Simo Brown said. “It’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Know it is all up to you to make it happen. Expect more from yourself. Develop an expertise and feel confident that you have the power to make great things happen.”


The Western winners join a historic group on the 2014 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award list that includes some of Canada’s most iconic women trailblazers, including Roberta Bondar, astronaut; Arlene Dickinson, chief executive officer, Venture Communications; Christine Magee, president, Sleep Country Canada; Kathleen Taylor, chair of the board, Royal Bank of Canada; and Michaëlle Jean, former governor general of Canada.