Women in Business in Surrey – Impressive! – By Ray Hudson

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Surrey Board of Trade 2017 Women in Business Awards

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The Surrey Board of Trade’s (SBOT) Eighth Women in Business Awards ceremony was held one day after International Women’s day and brought forward an awe inspiring group of women nominees who are the partners in the success enjoyed by the society in Surrey and beyond.

Anita Huberman CEO of the SBOT introduced GlobalBC’s Morning News Anchor Sonia Sunger who hosted the capacity audience at the Vancouver Guildford Sheraton Hotel.
Part one of the event was with Margaret Trudeau, wife of the late Prime Minster Pierre Elliott Trudeau and mother of the current PM talking about her life and her books “Changing My Mind” about her life with and over-coming mental illness, and her newest book, “The Time of Your Life” where she speaks to women about their lives, hopes and dreams. She kept the audience fully engaged as she talked about the ups downs, the good and difficult parts of her life. She was funny, brilliant, heart-breaking, insightful and put an enormous amount of DSC_0061context to her life as a very public person who became lost in the morass of mental illness, which she overcame and with a lot of help brought her life back together. She was very much enjoyed by the audience. The Asian Journal will present an article about her presentation next week.

Part two was about the Women in Business Awards and a celebration of some of Surrey’s best and brightest women who make a major difference in the life of the city and well beyond, and here they are.

There were five categories:

Women In Business winnersEntrepreneurial winner, Noel Asmar thanked her partner who took on the child-rearing duties while she went after her dream. She successfully transformed her design company into a complete lifestyle brand… Inspired by the idea that a perfectly curated collection of clothing and handbags can transition one through days and evenings of dressing elegantly hip, classic and cool… a lady on the go who wants to be practical but stylish in an effortlessly chic kind of way. Also nominated were: Leanne Cordeiro of Salon Cordeiro and Galia Shukr, Prestige Performance Consulting.

Professional:  Sonia Virk, Lawyer:  “Many women in various cultures around the world still live with gender bias,” said Virk. “I knew gender bias from day one because I was born the third girl.  I hope one day our society reaches a place where we don’t need gender-specific awards anymore. Until then we need these awards to empower and inspire us.”

That statement from Sonia Virk, winner of the Professional category, described the goal for the future of women and men in business, when performance alone is the criterion in the celebration of business excellence. Ms. Virk is a partner in the firm she started, Virk Viyas & Associate Lawyers.

Also nominated were: Mandie La Montagne, The Intueri Group and Parminder Mann, All Care Counsellin

Not for Profit Leader: Louise Tremblay, Director of Development, Semiahmoo Foundation which supports the Semiahmoo House SocietyShe is a professional advocate for people with disabilities and other vulnerable adults. She is a regional mentor with the BC Association of Community Response Networks whose mandate is to create awareness about abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults. Louise is a strong advocate of inclusive workplaces and leads by example by hiring a very diverse team.

Louise began by congratulating the other finalists for their contribution to the community.

“What a journey it has been for the last five years,” said Tremblay. “Prior to that I worked in the corporate sector my entire life and while this work was satisfying at the time, my being involved with community work fulfilled my aspirations in the here and now. Creating awareness and fostering an inclusive society is the best job.”

Also nominated were: Judy Krawchuk, Sophie’s Place/Child Development Foundation and Dre.  Noreen Simmons, BC Family Haring Resource Society

Corporate/Leadership: Dona Hurry Mansonville Plastics Group of Companies. She joined the company in 1982 and worked with the President Mario Cormier, also her partner, until he passed away in 2015. She then took on the role of President and Director of the company which employs over eighty full time staff. Along with the Management team she continues to carry out her mission fulfilling customer needs of all their products and services while enacting her vision of the product. She has invested financial and human capital resources to implement a comprehensive health and safety management system.

She thanked her co-workers for nominating of her, she said that it was truly a great honour.

“This will provide great memories as I’m moving to my retirement years,” said Hurry. “I’m wrapping up my thirty-five year career with Mansonville, so this is really wonderful.”

Also nominated were: Marian Malletta, Westminster Savings and Emily Taylor Surrey City Development Corporation.

Social Trailblazer Award winner, Paola Ardiles is a lecturer in the Faculty of Health Science at SFU. She has published and contributed to work in various public health areas, including mental health promotion, health literacy, cultural competency, immigrants and refugee health and women’s mental health.

“I’m pretty proud because the people who nominated me were the staff of the City of Surrey and Fraser Health who I’ve been working with over the past few years, so this is really a tribute to them,” said Paola.

After receiving the award, Ardiles called the other finalists, Alice Sundberg of the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition and Jen Temple of the trademark Group, to join her on the stage.  “These women need to be seen because we all face these complex challenges in our world, and we have to learn how to share power and share our knowledge.”