Thirteen Western alumni have been named among Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2023, recognized for their leadership, vision and mentorship of others.
The annual list is compiled by the Women’s Executive Network, a national member-based organization which celebrates the advancement of women in all sectors and of all ages.
Categories in which Western alumni have been recognized include executive leaders, entrepreneurs, emerging leaders and professionals.
The winners will be honoured at an awards event on Nov. 30.
Danielle Barran, HBA’98, MBA’02
President, North America potato division, McCain Foods
Danielle Barran has over 25 years of experience in the North American food and beverage industry. She is responsible for McCain Foods’ largest business unit as well as its nine manufacturing plants across Canada and the U.S. Barran is also a noted advocate of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Kimberley A. Mason, BA’89
Executive VP and Canada head, private banking, Royal Bank of Canada
As the head of RBC Private Banking Canada, Kimberley Mason is responsible for shaping business strategy and driving growth. A dedicated community advocate, she has held director and chair roles on boards for the past two decades and currently serves on the boards of the University Health Network Foundation and Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Rosa B. Caputo, BSc’74
Executive chairman and chairman of the board, KeyData Associates
A recognized Canadian expert in cybersecurity, Rosa B. Caputo is CEO, KeyData Associates, a cybersecurity company she founded in 2005. Caputo grew KeyData to become a leader in identity and access management (IAM) services, winning awards and providing IAM security services to Canadian customers including the federal government, banks, telcos, pipelines, utilities and other critical infrastructure companies. Recently acquired by private equity firm CIVC Partners, KeyData is expanding into the U.S. market.
Erin Craven, HBA’98
Founder and CEO, UROSPOT
Erin Craven founded UROSPOT, which offers pelvic health services. She left a 20-year career in health care to launch her idea that combines non-invasive technology, education and health coaching to change lives. UROSPOT now has 20-plus clinics which are either open or in development.
Lisa A. Melchior, BA’90
Founder and managing partner, VERTU Capital
Lisa Melchior is the first woman to launch a private equity firm in Canada and one of the country’s leading private equity technology investors. Before founding Vertu Capital in 2017, she led the North American technology group for OMERS Private Equity. Over the course of her career, she has invested more than $1.5B in 30 companies, leading a number of deals in the enterprise software space. She is an award-winning investor and thought leader in her sector.
Allison M. Taylor, BSc’96
Co-founder and CEO, Invico Capital Corp.
Allison Taylor co-founded Invico Capital Corporation, which provides strategic oversight on all investment, compliance and accounting functions. She has helped grow the firm’s assets under management to over $2.5 billion since 2005. Taylor is also an avid runner and has completed over 60 marathons.
Heather Desserud, BA’07
Director of strategy, Research Nova Scotia
Heather Desserud is a strategy professional with a background in innovation, economic development, research programming and strategic communications. Her career spans across not-for-profits, government, research and industry. As director of strategy at Research Nova Scotia, the province’s research support organization, she has developed and led the implementation of a mission-oriented research strategy that mobilizes the strengths of research to solve societal challenges.
Jamie Doolittle, BMOS’07
Head, business banking, Central Region East, BMO Financial Group
Jamie Doolittle has 15 years of experience in business banking at Bank of Montreal. She’s a strong advocate for the advancement of women in business and has led several workshops on financial literacy, franchising, entrepreneurship and business development. A CPA, Doolittle has also won awards for her leadership.
Mahima Poddar, HBA’07
Group head and senior VP, personal banking, EQ Bank
Mahima Poddar combines her experience in consulting at Boston Consulting Group with a vision for transforming banking. She leads EQ Bank’s personal lending, marketing and payments divisions. Under her leadership, the bank has acquired multiple businesses, introduced many new product lines, and surpassed $8 billion in deposits.
Jessica Metcalfe, BSc’10
Founder and CEO, SKYL Group
Dr. Jessica Metcalfe, a former dental oncologist and education director, went from enhancing cancer patients’ quality of life to cultivating clinician well-being. Her book, Speak Kindly, You’re Listening, debunks impostor syndrome and burnout culture. Metcalfe founded SKYL Group, which works with companies to enhance employee well-being and personal growth.
Inka Skinner, EMBA’16
Data, analytics and AI, Accenture
Inka Skinner is one of the leaders at Accenture Canada’s data, analytics and artificial intelligence practice where she enables clients to deliver business value through the strategic application of data, analytics, AI and automation. Skinner is a strong advocate and mentor for female empowerment and is cthe Chair of the Women of Ivey Network at Ivey Business School.
Jill R. Schnarr, HBA’91
Chief social innovation and communications officer, TELUS
As chief communications and brand officer at TELUS, Jill Schnarr leads corporate communications, public relations, government relations, brand marketing, sponsorship, philanthropy and community investment at the company. Schnarr leveraged technology to improve employee experience while fostering a high-performance culture. This has contributed to TELUS being recognized as one of the most valuable brands in Canada.
Dr. Sondos Zayed, resident alum, radiation oncology
Clinical and research fellow, Sunnybrook Hospital Odette Cancer Centre
Dr. Sondos Zayed completed her medical degree at McGill University followed by residency training in radiation oncology at Western. She is pursuing further sub-specialty training in brain, spine and gastrointestinal malignancies as a clinical fellow at the Sunnybrook Hospital Odette Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ont. while completing a master of public health in epidemiology from Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health. She is the co-principal investigator of an ongoing clinical trial which she designed and launched as a trainee, with the intent of helping cancer patients complete their curative treatment.