On Wednesday, September 5th, over 150 women gathered at the Holiday Inn in downtown Peterborough to kick off the 2018-2019 season of the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough (WBN).
A long-standing organization in Peterborough since 1961, the WBN is a networking channel for women who wish to enhance and expand their business contacts and to grow their businesses. Network members include entrepreneurs, business owners, professionals, administrators, writers, media representatives, computer specialists, and health care providers, among many others.
Tracey Ormond, President of the 2018-19 WBN Board of Directors, began the event by introducing the theme for this season, “Better Together”, which she believes is truly representative of the WBN.
“Our theme this year couldn’t ring more true for members’ experiences in the WBN,” Ormond said. “This is a powerful group of women. I’m happy to be part of it and I’m honoured to be President.”
Several announcements were made over the course of the evening, including the naming of the new Vice-President of the WBN, mortgage broker Grace Reynolds.
“It’s been an amazing experience getting to know these incredible women since I joined the WBN,” said Reynolds, who joined the WBN shortly after moving to Peterborough a few years ago. “I’m honoured to be moving into this role.”
New this year, the WBN will be launching a mentorship program, an initiative that aims to match new members with more experienced members.
Diane Wolf, Member Communications Manager of the WBN and owner of Diane Wolf Consulting, said it will be a valuable opportunity for members to learn from each other.
“It’s a chance for people to gain new experience,” Wolf explained. “We have a diverse group of women and there’s a lot of knowledge to be shared, which is particularly important for those just starting out.”
Despite the exciting new initiatives the WBN is launching this season, the highlight of the evening was listening to WBN members speak about their experiences in business and entrepreneurship.
Three keynote speakers addressed the women in attendance, candidly sharing their personal stories of struggle and success, and explaining how the WBN assisted them as they developed their businesses.
Monika Carmichael, Dealer Principal and General Manager of Trent Valley Honda, was the first to speak. Carmichael, who has been described as a trailblazer in the automotive industry, said she loves challenges. Failure was once her biggest fear, but as she grew older, she realized failure is necessary for growth.
“I love the climb,” Carmichael said. “I love the challenge of working towards a goal I set for myself, and I get pleasure from helping others in their climb. I believe in mentorship.”
One of Carmichael’s guiding philosophies is to always self-reflect and to ask yourself why you’re doing what you do. And she firmly believes that you should not give up when told you cannot accomplish something.
“I was told many times I couldn’t do something as a woman,” Carmichael recalled. “I don’t consider myself a natural at anything. I’ve always had to work hard, whether in school or in my career. My parents taught me that hard work was the key to success.”
Carmichael’s pride in being the only female car dealership owner in the area has made her a proponent for the strength, capability, and determination of women, specifically in their ability to match their male counterparts in the workplace.
Likewise, the second keynote speaker of the evening, photographer Heather Doughty, seeks to bring recognition to all that women do for their communities. Doughty is the creator of Inspire: The Women’s Portrait Project, a website which showcases extraordinary women in our local community through portraits and accompanying biographies.
“Each photograph tells the story of the everyday heroes of our community,” Doughty said. “Their backgrounds are so diverse. They challenge stereotypes and I believe we can learn so much from them.”
Doughty admitted she was initially skeptical of the WBN; her understanding of business women was “Type A personalities” and “pencil skirts”. After Doughty’s first WBN event, she realized her initial understanding couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“The women were welcoming and interested in my project,” Doughty explained. “I ran ideas by them and received valuable feedback. Just like the Inspire Project has shown, becoming a member of the WBN proved that a lot can happen when women come together.”
These sentiments were shared by the final speaker of the evening: WBN President Tracey Ormond, owner of That’s a Wrap Catering and Classic Cooking. Like others, Ormond has benefitted from the WBN on a professional level, but also on a personal level.
“Through the WBN I was introduced to the owner of the Ashburnham Funeral and Reception Centre, the space where I operate my catering business out of,” she said, noting having a space was crucial to developing her business.
“I’ve also gained many friendships from the WBN and I always feel supported by these women. You can fall flat on your face in front of them, and they are there to pick you back up.”
For more information about WBN including how to join, visit kawarthaNOW’s special editorial section.