The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
Annual Women Who Lead Panel
In the lead up to International Women’s Day for our Annual Women Who Lead Panel of industry leaders who will discuss their business and career successes, what they’ve accomplished to date and how they break down barriers to diversity and equal opportunity.
Jessica Johnson is Executive Editor and Creative Director of The Walrus. A frequent writer on women’s issues, she has contributed to a number of publications across North America, including The Walrus, The New Republic, Elle, Lucky, Toronto Life, Reader’s Digest and En Route. She has also held senior level editing positions at The Globe and Mail, Saturday Night, Azure and FQ.
From 2009 to 2015, she was the head copywriter behind the successful transformation of Hudson’s Bay, Canada’s iconic department store. Jessica is an alumnus of the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing program.
Minister Mary Ng is Canada’s Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion. The Honourable Mary Ng was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Markham Thornhill in April 2017 and was appointed Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion in July 2018. Throughout her 20 years of public service, Minister Ng has been a passionate community leader and advocate with a proven track record of results in the areas of education, women’s leadership, job creation, and entrepreneurship.
As Member of Parliament for Markham Thornhill, Minister Ng helped to facilitate the Government’s commitment to invest in Canadian ideas and innovators in her riding by advocating for the inclusion of Markham’s tech innovation hub, VentureLabs, in the Southern Ontario Supercluster. The Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster is expected to have a GDP impact of more than $13.5 billion in the next ten years and create more than 13,500 good, middle class jobs in the region.
As part of her work on the Standing Committee of Industry, Science, and Technology, Minister Ng worked alongside her committee colleagues on intellectual property best practices. This work guided the Government’s launch of Canada’s first comprehensive intellectual property strategy, providing tools to support the growth of Canadian businesses domestically while ensuring their ideas are protected in the global marketplace.
Prior to serving as a Member of Parliament, Minister Ng worked as Director of Appointments in the Prime Minister’s Office. She also served as the Director of Policy in provincial education where she built relationships, negotiated with teachers’ unions, and served students while helping to improve Ontario’s education system. Minister Ng also served in the President’s Office at Ryerson University, helping to shape new initiatives that connected students and their innovative ideas with businesses, creating quality jobs for young Canadians. She has been a speaker and panelist on topics ranging from business, innovation, women in leadership and Canada China relations.
Farah Qasemi is Vice President of Business Development for KPMG Canada’s Banking and Capital Markets practice, Farah is the executive in charge of ensuring significant growth in this practice, by bringing the best of KPMG’s people, intellectual capital, alliances and assets from around the world to Canada’s largest banks.
KPMG’s Global Relationship Client Sat Director for Canada’s two largest banks, Farah has extensive experience managing global accounts and key client relationships in Canada, US, UK and continental Europe. She has focused strictly on the financial services sectors for over a decade, and has established a niche in developing greenfield big bank targets, primarily, Global Systemically Important Banks,G SIBs; for the world’s leading technology and professional services firms. Before joining KPMG Canada in 2015, Farah held leadership roles in financial services at CSC UK,now DXC Technology post HP merger, PwC UK and PwC Canada. She is an expert in the world’s leading sales and client relationship management methodologies and frameworks, having most recently led a major deployment in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Farah sat on the United Way of Toronto Campaign Cabinet and GenNext for the two years prior to leaving Toronto for London in 2012 and is very passionate about women empowerment and leadership, having spoken at length on this topic at industry events on Bay Street and beyond. Currently, Farah is a proud member of the Ascend Canada Board of Directors. Ascend is the largest non profit Pan Asian organization for business professionals and executives in North America.
Vicki Saunders is an entrepreneur, award winning mentor, advisor to the next generation of change makers and leading advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive transformation in the world.
Vicki is Founder of #radical generosity and SheEO, a network based, ecosystem approach to selecting, funding, supporting and scaling women led Ventures building new models, new mindsets and new solutions for a better world.
Vicki has co founded and run ventures in Europe, Toronto and Silicon Valley and taken a company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Vicki was recently named one of the 100 most influential leaders of 2015 from EBW: Empowering A Billion Women, In 2001, Vicki was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.
Jake Stika is a passionate speaker and facilitator focused on gender based issues related to the social and emotional development of boys, the health and well being of men, as well as diversity and inclusion. As Executive Director and cofounder of Next Gen Men, a nonprofit promoting positive masculinities, healthy relationships, and gender equity in schools, communities, and workplaces he has impacted the lives of men and boys and those they touch across Canada.
Recently named one of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40, as well as having earned recognition from Ashoka, the British Council, and the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, Jake has also spoken at the United Nations as part of the Canadian Delegation, and participated in the UN Women Safe Cities Initiative Global Forum.