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I finally realized the only person who didn't understand my value was me

Posted By WXN, Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Vinnie Recile blog post

“I finally realized the only person who didn’t understand my value was me” - Meet WXN member Vinnie Recile

Ask Vinnie Recile who she is, and the first thing she’ll say is a mother, a wife and a best friend to her husband (though in no particular order). She’ll also say she’s a daughter of immigrants. An accountant and a CFO. A freelancer. A professor. A volunteer. A creative. A cook. A martial artist. A supporter of the arts.

We could go on and on, because Vinnie has much to share about helping others, keeping her perspectives fresh, discovering her own value, earning her CMA while balancing a full-time career with a family, and how true leadership paves a path for others.


WXN: How did you discover your love for numbers?

Vinnie: I don't know that I had a love for numbers in the beginning, but I was interested in the problem-solving component of accounting, of what numbers represent. I like taking the numbers and understanding the story of what's happening. I like finding those underlying issues and helping shape strategic decisions that can help a business pivot the numbers to where they want them to be. That's where being a CFO is quite different from being an accountant.


WXN: How does teaching fit into what you do?

Vinnie: My children are both in Scouts, and I became a leader for the Beavers group. I didn't realize I would enjoy it until I started, because leading preschoolers and kindergarten kids is completely different from anything I do. Lo and behold, I fell in love with teaching.

One of the things that really drives me is helping others, which is why I find teaching so rewarding. I want to focus more of my effort on leaving an imprint in the community, helping others in some way through being able to impart my knowledge. This is the next segment of my life's work: teaching and being a part-time CFO, helping clients, helping graduates and students, and helping women bridge into a career.


WXN: Can you share a bit about the importance of pursuing different pathways like teaching?

Vinnie: As a very logical, pragmatic and numbers-focused person, it's really important to expose myself continually to people with different skills, in different professions that are far more creative or humanistic. In business and in finance, we can get tunnel vision because we end up spending our time with like-minded people, which is great, but it really doesn't broaden our perspective. I really make an effort to volunteer in areas that are completely opposite to what I do, and hopefully, that will help balance that out a bit.


WXN: What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Vinnie: When I was consulting independently, I understood that I was reasonably good at what I was doing, but I remember one time as a full-time CFO, I was having difficulty trusting my own judgment and recommendations. I felt like my confidence was plummeting. I wasn’t sure if I was capable of being a good CFO. The executive team was all super alpha males and me. Although others could not see it, I really struggled with my own personal confidence.

At one point, there was some conflict and debate about a few decisions. I got quiet with myself and went, I'm not crazy. These decisions are wrong and I don't agree with them. It came to a head, and I finally said to the CEO, “I stand by my decision and I'm willing to hand in my resignation if you feel that it was wrong. I'll have it to you this afternoon.” It was dead silent for a full 60 seconds before he said, “That won't be necessary. I don't think we could do this without you.” I finally realized the only person who didn’t understand my value was me.


WXN: Once you realized that, what changed?

Vinnie: I said I'm never going to put myself through that again. I have to understand that I'm good at what I do. I have to trust my judgment. It's okay to make mistakes – don't beat yourself up and tell yourself that you're horrible at what you do for a living if you make one. And understand the difference between when it's you who has to evolve versus an environment that's not working for you.


WXN: What about your proudest moment – can you tell us about that?

Vinnie: While I was a full-time CFO, with my two young children and my super supportive husband, I decided that I needed to finish my accounting designation. I felt I really needed it to prove to myself that I was good at what I did. I would study, literally, from 9 p.m. to midnight every day, doing lectures, taking notes, doing practice questions and taking timed practice tests over and over again, to the point where my hands would ache and I'd have to tape up my arm from overwriting. It was brutal. It's basically like studying for your degree, condensed into two exams.

As much as I studied, the exams were still challenging. I was nervous as hell. But when I passed on the first try, I was shocked. I was elated. I was accomplished. I was proud of myself. I had come out the other end, and I was able to share that challenge with my kids.


WXN: What are you working on next?

Vinnie: In talking to more women in my community through COVID, I've become acutely aware of the struggle with going back to work because they don't have daycare, or they have a child who can't go back into school, or they’re working from home with a child but can’t balance that with 12-hour shifts. And then I hear from clients who are frustrated, who need support, who need someone who's smart, who can multitask and has initiative.

A colleague and I are working on bringing together a network of really skilled people who need to work in a way that's flexible. There are ways to find flexible work and employers or clients. There are ways for you to have a skilled workforce in a flexible way that's cost-effective. We've been trying to piece together how to do that in a way that's effective during a pandemic.


WXN: Since becoming a WXN member, what has the “X” come to mean to you?

Vinnie: The “X” means being a leader. Part of being an executive – I think the biggest part of being executive – is being a leader and demonstrating leadership by creating a path, providing mentorship and education, and sharing personal development so we can pave a way for women that's easier than the path we've had. Rather than us standing on our soapbox – thou shall do this, thou shall not do that, or you're not doing this enough – let's help each other and pull each other up. If each of us does that, the cumulative effect of that is so much greater.


Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


What’s your “X”? Join Vinnie and the rest of the WXN community!

Get 30% off individual memberships in 2020!

During tough times, it’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of “now” and lose sight of what's important. What we need. Where we are going. How we'll get there. Who will help us along the way.

That’s why, for the remainder of 2020, WXN is offering an annual Individual Membership at a discounted rate of $99. That's just $8.25 per month - a 30% savings!

Take advantage of this limited time offer, because there's never been a better time to invest in yourself.

Learn more and join us today!


About Vinnie:

Vinnie Recile, CMA - Part Time CFO, The CFO Centre

Vinnie RecileVinnie Recile is a finance and business leader with 25 years of corporate management and consulting experience within the financial services, manufacturing, CPG and technology sectors. She has served in several senior financial roles within some of the best Fortune 500 companies globally. In the past 10 years, Vinnie has also served as a CFO, COO and senior business adviser, helping fund, launch and support growth in the technology and e-commerce sectors. She has led financial operations for e-commerce and private sector clients from seed to multi-million dollar organizations, specializing in securing private debt and equity funding, government funding and lending and has worked with startups and mid-market organizations. Vinnie has a proven track record of success in developing the necessary financial and operational infrastructure needed to scale for rapid expansion and growth. She holds a black belt in Six Sigma and has implemented operational and efficiency initiatives that have driven millions in cost savings for organizations; and she was recognized by the California Senate as a CFO of the year in the Southern California region for my efforts in driving cost savings, improving cash flow and securitization of funding and debt restructuring. Vinnie is also a professor of management accounting in Southwest Ontario, serve on the board of directors for Arts Milton and am a Scout Leader. Vinnie holds a CMA accounting designation and an Honors Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting from Brock University.

Tags:  female leaders  individual membership  leadership  member  membership  redefining the x  Women in Leadership 

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The more we break, the less breakable and more resilient we become

Posted By WXN, Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Diane Craig blog header

“The more we break, the less breakable and more resilient we become at the places we break” – Meet WXN member Diane Craig

As an advocate for tissue and organ donation and transplantation, she’s worked with Don Cherry and former Speaker of the House Gilbert Parent on this important cause. As the president of Corporate Class Inc., she travels the world to help leaders develop their Executive and Leadership Presence – or as their motto says, they “systematize the predictable and focus on the exceptional.”

Read on to learn why Executive Presence is more than leadership abilities alone, what she learned from 35 years of entrepreneurship, and how she honoured her daughter’s memory. This is Diane Craig, and she’s not retiring – she’s refiring!


WXN: What was your path from Image Consultant to Executive Presence and Leadership Trainer, Facilitator and Coach?

Diane: My claim to fame when I first started in business was working with politicians in Ottawa. I was at the House of Commons and on Parliament Hill frequently. It is also when I realized that the old saying, “You can dress them but you can't take them anywhere,” was true for some. As I worked with politicians, I developed a passion for helping leaders show up at their best. I started reading, researching, studying and taking courses on leadership, presence, showing up at your best, authenticity, social and interpersonal skills, neuroleadership, emotional intelligence, inter-cultural skills, body language and speaking with impact. What does it take to have great presence? To connect faster and better with people? To win people over? Is charisma a myth?

There’s so much more to your presence than your image alone. Image is not a substitute for your credentials. The way you dress might be your price of entry, but without substance, you will lack gravitas, an important pillar of Executive and Leadership Presence.


WXN: What made you decide to take the leap into entrepreneurship?

Diane: My husband was an entrepreneur, and he really encouraged me to start my own business. He would say, “If you're good enough to do this for others, you can do it for yourself.” I had my reservations, but then I thought, he's right. And I did.

A year after I started the business, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He was 44 years old and he passed away three months after being diagnosed. My son Kenny was 12 and my daughter Sandrine was seven years old when my husband passed. I had a big decision to make: do I go back and work for somebody, or do I continue on my entrepreneurial journey? I felt that the flexibility of having my own business, while raising two children as a single mom, was worth taking the risk. So I continued on the path I was on.


WXN: And that wasn’t your only loss.

Diane: Indeed, and little did I know that I would have to go through the grieving process again, even before I was done with this one. Four years after my husband’s passing, while away on business, I received a call that my daughter had been in a terrible school bus accident. A pick-up truck hit her school bus in a rural area of Kanata, just outside of Ottawa. She was 11 years old. The bus had rolled over three times and the ICU doctor told me over the phone that her chances of survival were slim.

I flew back to Ottawa immediately – the longest flight I ever took from Toronto to Ottawa. The next morning, the doctor told me there was no function left to her brain. The swelling had taken over. She was breathing by the help of a ventilator. After she was pronounced brain-dead, I was asked if I would donate her organs. I did – both my son and I felt it was the right and only decision. I went back to the grieving process. And that's when I became involved with organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

I did remarry in 2018 to a wonderful man, and sadly, two weeks before we were married, he was diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer. He passed away one week after we were married.


WXN: What did your involvement with organ and tissue donation and transplantation look like?

Diane: With the help of several friends, business acquaintances and our caring community, I built my own foundation shortly after my daughter died, Sandrine's Gift of Life, which I ran for six years. And then I thought, maybe I would be more influential sitting on boards. I sat on several boards nationally and provincially, including the Trillium Gift of Life for 12 years. I did a lot of speaking engagements nationally and internationally about organ and tissue donation and transplantation. I also become involved with Intriciti – an organization that helps professionals integrate their faith and business. I have been on the board of Intriciti for over 10 years now and the opportunity to contribute to this organization is most rewarding.


WXN: What advice do you have for building strength out of loss?

Diane: We all break. But we have the ability to put ourselves back together. I think of the Japanese art of kintsukuroi where they take broken bowls and put them back together with gold and silver lacquer. I believe the more we break, the less breakable and more resilient we become at the places we break.


WXN: Looking back, what is your proudest accomplishment?

Diane: You know what they say: "It took 20 years for this person to become an overnight success!" For me, maybe it took a little longer because of my personal traumas, but I pushed through. And I must say, my son was my biggest motivation factor. I developed and built a unique Executive and Leadership Presence model. I have licensed this program to individuals globally and delivered it to Fortune 500 companies internationally.  I've worked with the CEOs of multi-billion-dollar organizations all around the world. I am so blessed. Because of my work, I have been places and met people I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet if it hadn’t been for this business.

At the personal level, my biggest accomplishment, besides my son and my daughter, is the impact we were able to make with organ and tissue donation and transplantation. In 2004, I received the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada for my volunteerism. I received the Volunteer of the year award from Canadian Living Magazine, and my foundation, Sandrine's Gift of Life was chosen by the New Millennium Project in 2001 to represent volunteerism in Canada and archived at the National Library of Canada. This was a wonderful award honouring Sandrine’s life and the impact she had on so many others.


WXN: What’s next for you?

Diane: We're staying on top of current trends, and as thought leaders in our industry. At Corporate Class, we are thinking about what the leaders of the future are going to look like and how we will help them evolve. We believe they will be skilled at being human-centered, inclusive and leading globally in radical times of uncertainty and crisis. They will leverage their intellect for the interpersonal and social connections as command-and-control will be gradually phased out. They will develop more complex skills and competencies related to developing self and others. And this will be for the brave-at-heart leaders. These leaders are going to be flexible, agile in relation to diversity and inclusion as it is ever-changing, and they will be attuned to the market and the emergence of all by embracing the power of human creativity for their business and teams. They will spark personal insight into behavioural evolution.


WXN: What does the “X” in “WXN” represent to you?

Diane: We know it was always meant for the word executive, but we could also say it is the X factor in each one of us, and I like the idea that it is where thousands of inspiring women cross paths.


Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


What’s your “X”? Join Diane and the rest of the WXN community!

Get 30% off individual memberships in 2020!

During tough times, it’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of “now” and lose sight of what's important. What we need. Where we are going. How we'll get there. Who will help us along the way.

That’s why, for the remainder of 2020, WXN is offering an annual Individual Membership at a discounted rate of $99. That's just $8.25 per month - a 30% savings!

Take advantage of this limited time offer, because there's never been a better time to invest in yourself.

Learn more and join us today!


About Diane:

Diane Craig – Founder and President, Corporate Class Inc.

Diane CraigFor over 30 years, Diane Craig has been providing leadership development training to multi-national businesses, Fortune 500 companies, business schools and government agencies to optimize performance and potential across every organizational level.

Recognized internationally for her Executive and Leadership Presence Training System, Diane facilitates customized coaching, workshops and seminars to organizations around the world: from Europe to the Gulf Region, Asia, Australia, South Africa and across the Americas – North, Central and South.

Diane has witnessed firsthand the global corporate acknowledgement that leadership skills coaching and development encourages talent retention. It enhances capabilities and opportunities – and increases performance to stimulate development of the next generation of leaders. The nucleus of her training philosophy is to align and leverage academic and technical expertise with personal potential.

From C-Suite and senior executives to new professionals Diane has helped elevate the success of some of the most influential people in the world. She has worked privately with the C-suite executives of multi-billion dollars organizations such as Huawei, Wargaming, General Motors, KPMG, Deloitte and Publicis-Sapient. 

An acclaimed speaker, in March 2019, Diane was the guest of the Embassy of Canada in Kuwait, in collaboration with Canada’ s Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) during a special Women’s Empowerment event in Kuwait City. Diane delivered the keynote address, “Advancing a global key initiative to prosper politically, economically and socially,” where she spoke about how leaders can advance this key initiative to ensure all citizens prosper politically, economically and socially.

In addition to international corporate workshops and presentations, Diane facilitates leadership training at university business schools: Richard Ivey School of Business, McMaster University; Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto; Schulich School of Business, York University, Fox Business School, Temple University.

Diane is a member of Women Presidents’ Organization and the International Coaching Federation. The WPO is a membership organization for women presidents, CEOs, and managing directors of privately held, multimillion-dollar companies. She is a regular speaker at national and international business meetings and conferences.

Her perspectives on executive and leadership presence are frequently sought after by media. She is often quoted in The Globe and Mail and National Post, Forbes Magazine, CNN Business News and appears regularly on CBC and CTV.

Diane holds a Certificate in the Foundations of NeuroLeadership from the NeuroLeadership Institute. Her facilitation methods utilize its scientific, brain-based coaching techniques that combine the science of the brain, neuroscience, with leadership. This impacts team dynamics and interactions to drive individual performance.

Diane studied haute couture at Ottawa’s prestigious Richard Robinson Academy of Fashion Design. She continued her education at the Protocol School of Washington – and at University of British Columba, Vancouver, BC, Canada and the Pacific University in Oregon, US. In 2010, she completed the NFP Program for Corporate Directors: governance of not-for profit boards. This intensive program, jointly developed by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and the Institute of Corporate Directors, focuses on key accountabilities and responsibilities for Board Directors.

For 12 years, until December 2016, Diane served as a Board Member for the Trillium Gift of Life Network, the province of Ontario’s organization responsible for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. In 2006, she became a member of the Intriciti Board of Directors.

Frequently heralded for her inspirational role in leadership, Diane is the recipient of many awards including: Governor General of Canada Meritorious Service Medal; Canadian Living Magazine and Avon Canada’s Women of Inspiration Award; Toastmaster International’s Communication and Leadership Award.

Diane may be contacted at dcraig@corporateclassinc.com


Tags:  female leaders  individual membership  leadership  member  membership  redefining the x  Women in Leadership 

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Inclusion is so important

Posted By WXN, Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Haritha Murthy blog

“Inclusion is so important to me because I know how it felt to not be included” – Meet WXN member Haritha Murthy

Haritha Murthy’s journey has taken her across five countries and three continents – India, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. She’s earned her FCCA and CPA and holds the title of Senior Manager, Canadian Banking Financial Control, with RBC, but she’s also a “closet journalist” and an active volunteer who bakes a mean banana bread!

Get to know Haritha as she talks about a life of travel, what she loves to write, how she rebounded from her lowest point by hitting one of her highest, and why the “X” in WXN means setting an example for others.


WXN: What has living all over the world been like?

Haritha: I've always had this identity crisis, where if someone asks where I’m from, it's very hard to say. I always default to Dubai, but I look Indian. I speak with an Indian accent with a British or American lilt. So, who am I? Where am I truly from?

I was a fish out of water when I first moved to the U.S. It was a shocker, coming from a heavily Eastern philosophy, but I’ve come to love living in different countries because it's a different feeling to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle, culture and people, as opposed to spending a couple of days and leaving. That's something I’ve enjoyed through this journey of moving around, being able to resonate with so many different cultures.


WXN: How did you get started as both a CPA and a writer?

Haritha: I’ve been writing poetry since grade seven - one of my first poems is about a pearl from an oyster! My mom has a book of my old poems, and she'll occasionally send me photos from it, asking "Do you remember this?" I silently ask myself, "What was I thinking?!"

I took up accounting because I come from a family of accountants, including my dad who I have always looked up to. Journalism was an option I never explored because of the Indian philosophy and upbringing where certain professions are put on a higher pedestal. I did my FCCA in the U.K., CPA from the U.S., and worked for EY and Deloitte, but my passion for writing never died.


WXN: You also host a podcast for Ascend Canada. What’s that like?

Haritha: In one word: thrilling. I used to be afraid to reach out to people – you know, the cold email. Now I'm not. I have a genuine reason to reach out because I'm inspired and I want to know more about their story. Everything from reaching out to coming up with a topic, brainstorming ideas, drafting it, putting some speaking notes together, and then recording and launching… the whole experience is end-to-end creativity and my passion for writing, all mingled together.


WXN: Across all those cities and continents, what’s been your biggest challenge?

Haritha: When I started off at EY UAE, I was a top performer, getting double-promoted and on cloud nine of my career. When I moved to EY US, I went in with the same confidence, but I was in for a shock. Everything was so much more intense – the regulations were heavier and we pulled in 80, 90 hours a week sometimes. The new country, new city, minus 40 degree temperatures, abundant traveling and lack of belonging led to depression. I started underperforming and was asked to be put on a Performance Improvement Plan. That was one of the biggest “aha!” moments of my life: to know that, oh boy, I can actually fail.

I was at an all-time low where I felt that I was good for nothing. So, I left. I took two years off to self-reflect. That's when writing came back to me, and I found my love for volunteering.


WXN: What did you do next?

Haritha: I could only do pro-bono work due to visa restrictions, which was a blessing in disguise because I found opportunities to work with my local community. The most impactful experience I've had was while volunteering with the Pan-African Association, a small non-profit that helped refugees from Africa and South Asia settle in Chicago. One of the things I did there was help refugees with their citizenship test. This one refugee had failed her citizenship test about eight times because English was new to her. It was heartbreaking because she had two children back home in Africa and she didn't know if they were alive or not. She needed her citizenship to even get out of the country.

I took it upon myself to help her pass the test. And she did. When I heard the news, I literally broke down because that was the most rewarding experience I've ever had, just to know that she could finally go find her family. I was a small instrument in that. That's also when I realized that I do have something to offer; my diminished self-worth and confidence went up.


WXN: You mentioned that writing came back to you as well. What did you write?

Haritha: I started looking for inspiration everywhere. In those dark moments in my life, I started a blog something like the Humans of New York. I was looking for people who had treaded the untrodden path. I started writing about people I came across, who were true to themselves and followed their passion. Sharing each other’s stories, I found a new love for storytelling and realized everyone has incredible experiences that make them who they are.


WXN: What’s the biggest lesson you learned during that experience?

Haritha: I realized the value of self-worth and self-love. You're bound to have ups and downs in life, but you will overcome it. All I had to do was look deep inside and tap into what I brought to the table. I had been going with the flow: if everyone did X, I also wanted to do X. But I never thought: hey, I've got Y, too. I realize that now, being a huge advocate about diversity and inclusion. I now encourage people to bring their Y to the table.


WXN: What are you learning these days?

Haritha: Inclusion is a new concept to me, having moved to Canada, but it has been a very strong value that I admire and I want to build in everything I do. That's why I'm a member and ally of RBC’s CFO Pride Committee. I mentor new immigrants and professionals within the BIPOC community. I have friends who identify as persons with disability.

For me, inclusion is so important because I know how it felt to be not included. I've been attending in-house training, webinars, panel discussions, anything that can help me move the dial on inclusion. RBC even has its own hashtag, #speakupforinclusion, which is something I really live by.


WXN: Looking back on your experience, and now as a member of WXN, what does the X mean to you?

Haritha: We're constantly surrounded by examples of bravery, confidence, creativity, resiliency and curiosity in our lives. We’re learning from examples that have been set before us, and we’re also setting examples for those around us. For me, X really means “example.” The WXN community is setting an example for everybody around them and for future generations. I hope to learn from and build on the examples of others in the community, so I can be an example myself. 


Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


What’s your “X”? Join Haritha and the rest of the WXN community!

Get 30% off individual memberships in 2020!

During tough times, it’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of “now” and lose sight of what's important. What we need. Where we are going. How we'll get there. Who will help us along the way.

That’s why, for the remainder of 2020, WXN is offering an annual Individual Membership at a discounted rate of $99. That's just $8.25 per month - a 30% savings!

Take advantage of this limited time offer, because there's never been a better time to invest in yourself.

Learn more and join us today!


About Haritha:

Haritha Murthy – Senior Manager, P&CB Financial Control, RBC

Haritha Murthy

Haritha Murthy is a Senior Manager in RBC’s Controller group, advising the business on financial risk, process improvements, contract negotiations and SOX compliance. She has lived in multiple countries (India, UAE, UK, USA) before immigrating to Canada in 2016. As a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion, Haritha volunteers her time with Ascend Canada, TRIEC and various committees within RBC, including the CFO Pride Committee. Outside of work, Haritha loves to bake, sing and blog.


Tags:  female leaders  individual membership  leadership  member  membership  redefining the x  Women in Leadership 

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Don't be afraid of your vulnerability

Posted By WXN, Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Erin Crerar blog

“Don't be afraid of your vulnerability” – Meet WXN member Erin Crerar

Erin Crerar first fell in love with geology as a university student finding her groove. After earning her Masters, she’s since spent time as a technical geologist, mapping the earth’s subsurface in western Canada in the oil and gas sector, and most recently as a leader in her profession, where she found her groove again developing teams and mentoring the next generation of geologists.

Keep reading to hear how she handled the transition, why geology rocks, how losing a baby helped her build more authentic relationships, and why finding your “yes” matters.


WXN: What was it like moving from a technical role to a leadership role?

Erin: As a professional, sometimes it's hard to transition. Sometimes you don't acknowledge it yourself. Sometimes you don't know definitively what you want to do. I was on the fence for a long time: do I want to be a geologist or do I want to go into a leadership career? I was fortunate to have some great leaders and mentors who supported me as I experimented with both paths, who believed in me and encouraged me to do more of what I was most passionate about. But if you don't take the time to think about what you want, what drives you and what your values are, someone else will make that decision for you.


WXN: How did you fall in love with geology in the first place?

Erin: When I was doing my undergrad in university, I had the advice to take a bunch of different courses. I stumbled across an intro to geology course. I loved learning about the earth and life through time, how life evolved and the earth formed. It was very much a combination of hard science and a history of change. I registered in geology after that, and I never looked back.


WXN: And how did you end up in the energy sector?

Erin: I worked a couple of summers in Drumheller, Alberta at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, digging up dinosaur bones and running science education programs in the gallery. I loved it but also wanted to be able to try different types of jobs while I was still in school. 

I got a summer job at an oil and gas company, and I really liked the applied science part of it. I got to solve all these cool technical challenges by applying what I learned in school. I loved that you could put together a geological interpretation based on the rock and seismic data and then when new wells were drilled or new production data collected you could learn if your interpretations still made sense. I saw potential for continuous learning and improvements to your ideas and interpretations. It also had a very economic purpose to responsibly develop natural resources. I wasn't sure if I would like it, and I think testing it out was really great.


WXN: Through that time, what has been your biggest challenge, personally or professionally?

Erin: Three years ago, I lost my baby in the second trimester of pregnancy when the risk is so low that few people speak of it. The grief that I experienced was profound. I was grieving the loss of my daughter but also the potential of growing my family as this pregnancy came after a two-year year struggle to conceive. And I am a pretty private person. I would have liked nothing more than to hide what had happened, but my pregnancy was known to so many people. It made me feel exposed.

The support and compassion I received were unbelievable. I experienced the spectrum of people comfortable and seemed to know exactly what to say to those who were uncomfortable but said something anyway. It takes courage to show that you care when you don’t know what to do or say. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to experience, but it also shows you compassion and that people understand. You see the compassion and support that others give and that comes across in much more authentic relationships afterward. Others share their stories with you, and you get closer to a lot of people. You need those people to help you get through.


WXN: How did you handle that difficult time, and what advice do you have for others going through something similar?

Erin: I became much more comfortable talking about difficult situations, difficult feelings and knowing that it's okay to admit that you're having a tough time. When you're honest about it, other people can be honest too.

Everyone is struggling with different situations in their lives that others don't know about. You don't have to share what you're going through with everyone, but if you say, “Hey, I'm going through something hard and things are tough for me right now,” people can empathize and you open up a place for a much more connected relationship. Don't be afraid of that vulnerability.


WXN: Can you tell us about a moment that made you feel proud?

Erin: Two years ago, I was asked to take on an interim role to lead a large team of reports while my manager was on leave. I jumped on that because, of course, I would help her any way I could. It was also an opportunity to take on significantly more responsibility and show some of my skills. And then the perfect storm happened – our senior manager left the organization, and the business was going through a big organizational change. I went from leading a small team on an area well within my comfort zone to reporting directly to our VP and leading the geoscience function through a major organizational change. 

I wanted to do right by the people and make sure that I could support them as best as I could. I wanted to do right by these two leaders that I admired so much that weren't there. I wanted to do a good job. It was terrifying. You feel like you're on this cliff and you're looking around, saying, “Okay, who's going to make that decision?” And then you realize, “Oh, that's me.” I was part of some really tough decisions but found my voice to influence some really positive changes.  I am most proud to have been able to be there for the people on my team.


WXN: How would you redefine the “X” in “WXN”?

Erin: When you think of the word “executive,” you think of people on the board and women who are really established. For me, to understand how they got there, you need to understand where they started from because people didn't just magically end up in these positions. I think the X is that enablement and encouragement. It's finding your “yes” when there are so many reasons to say no to opportunities. It’s encouraging people that they can progress in a way that's really meaningful to them.


Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


What’s your “X”? Join Erin and the rest of the WXN community!

Get 30% off individual memberships in 2020!

During tough times, it’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of “now” and lose sight of what's important. What we need. Where we are going. How we'll get there. Who will help us along the way.

That’s why, for the remainder of 2020, WXN is offering an annual Individual Membership at a discounted rate of $99. That's just $8.25 per month - a 30% savings!

Take advantage of this limited time offer, because there's never been a better time to invest in yourself.

Learn more and join us today!


About Erin:

Erin Crerar – Professional Geologist

Erin Crerar


Erin Crerar is a Professional Geologist with over 17 years of experience working in the energy sector. She is highly accomplished in both technical and leadership roles. Most recently, she was passionately invested as a Geoscience Manager for an international company where she successfully led and inspired teams to collaborate and solve complex technical challenges in subsurface reservoirs.

Erin holds a B.Sc. from the University of Alberta and an M.Sc. from the University of Ottawa. She loves to travel, run, and spend time outdoors with her husband, daughter and rescue pup in Calgary.

Tags:  female leaders  individual membership  leadership  member  membership  redefining the x  Women in Leadership 

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I Had to Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Posted By WXN, Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Isabel Lee redefining the x

“I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable” – Meet Isabel Lee

Isabel Lee may have a degree in theatre, but her success is anything but an act. She’s spent the past 20 years in the world of payments, first in a sales-related role and now as Interac’s Head of Enterprise Compliance, where she has responsibilities for compliance programming, the privacy office and the Ombudsman’s office

We asked her about her experiences – and she delivered! Here’s what she shared about making a major mid-career pivot, why she’s always learning something new and why redefining “X” means redefining the word “executive” itself.


WXN: Can you share a little about the world of compliance at Interac?

Isabel: Typically, people hear the word “compliance” and they think about audits and checklists. That's not the approach we take. At Interac, our team is viewed as a business partner to all business units rather than an enforcement arm. We partner to go beyond providing the parameters of regulations, rules and policies. We collaborate with internal teams to seek and identify solutions that help mitigate any corporate risks.


WXN: What has been your biggest challenge in your career so far?

Isabel: Two years ago, I decided to do a 180-degree pivot in my career by changing disciplines. Doing that, while I was midway through my career, I’d have to say, was probably the most challenging, humbling and rewarding experience I've ever had. When you spend close to two decades years honing a skillset, you get to be the resident expert. Then, to take on a completely different discipline – in a newly created role to the organization, no less – well, let’s just say the learning curve was steep!

I think you can't think about it too much. Just do it. I knew this is what I wanted, and I knew the outcome would be worth it. I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I had to ask a lot of questions and I had to be willing to be wrong sometimes. And that wasn’t easy. But my advice to anyone considering a similar change? Know that you will get to that point where everything is clicking and everything's making sense. Know that one day, suddenly, a picture will fall together – and that feeling is unbeatable. You just need to have the confidence to know you will get there.


WXN: You’ve worked directly with one of your mentors. Can you talk about your experience as a mentee?

Isabel: I actively promote mentorship and have seen first-hand the benefits of being a mentee. This isn’t just about propelling your career forward and it's not just about finding someone who is going to give you your next job. It's about creating a relationship with somebody who is looking out for your best interests with an objective opinion, someone who can see further down the road than you can because they've had life experience and business experience. Someone who can give you the hard truths. But as a mentee, you have to do the work as well. You have to bring the questions and be receptive to alternate options.


WXN: You’ve done a lot of learning over the years. What’s the value of continuing education in your career?

Isabel: I’ve always enjoyed being a student but as I get older, real fulfillment comes from learning more about the things I’m truly interested in. Everyone needs to continue learning. Advancements being made in technology continue to change and disrupt every facet of our economy and our businesses.

But completing executive education courses have an added benefit beyond the content that you’re learning; it’s the people you meet at these courses. You’re put into an environment with your peers, but your peers from different industries all over the country. And it’s a wonderful opportunity to gain perspective and insights from those you wouldn’t meet otherwise.


WXN: Why did you decide to pursue a degree in theatre?

Isabel: My thinking was after the first year of university was, if I'm going to pay to go to school, I want to pay for things that I enjoy – and I'll figure the rest out after. That probably wasn't the best career advice, but I really wanted to enjoy my learning experience.  And I did!

Having said that, I do put my theatre degree to use all the time. I was taught skills like how to think quickly on your feet, how to speak in front of a crowd, how to have a presence and how to create the experience for your listeners. These are little skills that I wouldn't have learned anywhere else, but they've been very practical and I’m very grateful for the training I’ve received.


WXN: Looking back, what makes you feel the proudest?

Isabel: I’ve had a number of moments in my professional career that I can think of over the course of the last few years that have made me feel pretty good, but the first thing that comes to mind is my successful pivot from a client-facing relationship world to a corporate governance one. I made the decision to diversify my executive tool kit and I knew it would require learning and comprehending a lot of new information and enrolling in continuing education courses.  The role was new to the organization, and as such, I had to create a lot of the foundational documentation, policy statements and training materials while putting in place new processes and protocols. This all culminated when I shepherded the organization through its first enterprise-wide assessment that was approved by the Interac Corp. Board of Directors.

On a personal front, I’m really proud of my 13-year-old son, Daniel. He’s a kind, thoughtful kid who may love video games a bit too much, but still remembers to call his grandma. I’m excited to see what’s in store for him.


WXN: At this stage in your career and in your life, what does the “X” in “WXN” represent?

Isabel: That X represents not “executive” in the traditional sense. To me, it’s a representation of many meanings. It means being a people leader, but it also means being a thought leader, being a champion for your peers and a champion for your network.

People can lead by being examples or laying down the groundwork so that innovation can happen. All of those things combine together and form this new world of women who really focus together, and I think that, at least in my experience, when you work together with a group of strong women, you only rise together.


Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


What’s your “X”? Join Isabel and the rest of the WXN community!

Get 30% off individual memberships in 2020!

During tough times, it’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of “now” and lose sight of what's important. What we need. Where we are going. How we'll get there. Who will help us along the way.

That’s why, for the remainder of 2020, WXN is offering an annual Individual Membership at a discounted rate of $99. That's just $8.25 per month - a 30% savings!

Take advantage of this limited time offer, because there's never been a better time to invest in yourself.

Learn more and join us today!


About Isabel:

Isabel Lee – Head of Enterprise Compliance, Interac Corp.

Isabel Lee


Isabel Lee is the Head of Enterprise Compliance at Interac Corp., the Canadian debit network that connects over 29 million Canadians and nearly 300 financial institutions and payments processors. Before pivoting her career trajectory towards Corporate Governance, Isabel spent nearly two decades in client management and relationship-based sales roles where she used her skills to build meaningful and successful relationships with major retailers, acquirers, merchant associations and financial institutions across North America.

With her experience firmly rooted in the Canadian Payments Industry, Isabel has been a key contributor to the introduction of several new technologies within this space. Most notably, Isabel was a lead member of the team responsible for the successful nationwide launch of Interac Flash, Interac’s contactless debit product and she also played a critical role with Interac’s Mobile Debit Implementation of Apple Pay.

With a passion and commitment to learning and growing, Isabel brings a collaborative approach to Enterprise Compliance and Corporate Governance. By partnering with business leads, Isabel and her team are able to continually and successfully promote a culture of compliance and ethical behaviour that is built on a foundation of trust, knowledge and integrity. In addition, Isabel’s role also includes accountabilities for both the Privacy Office and the Ombudsman’s Office of Interac Corp. Finally, Isabel is also a senior leader on Interac’s Diversity and Inclusion Core Team, a corporate program responsible for organizational initiatives that recognize 8 dimensions of demographic and cognitive diversity.

Tags:  female leaders  individual membership  leadership  member  membership  redefining the x  Women in Leadership 

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