As we know, women have worked hard to take gender out of the equation—to be recognized equally for their skills and talents in the business world.
In 2010, Debbie Van Camp and Ilona Makar came together as the founders of Calgary Business Women Network (CBWN). Having been involved in other groups prior to creating their own, both women knew there was a large demand from local business women to feel more connected and find inspiration from others. This regional business women’s group of approximately 80 business women gathers once a month to network and discuss relevant business issues in their community and industries. They are committed to providing service and support to female business leaders, entrepreneurs, business executives and home based sales leaders.
The goal of CBWN is to build an environment that allows women to build real relationships, increase networking success and promote business growth in a trusting and healthy environment. “We want to create a nurturing and supportive environment for these women,” says Ilona. “Women make connections with people from not only what they see and hear, but with the emotions they feel on a more personal level.” Along with the “heart-centered” approach to their group, Debbie and Ilona also strongly believe in the “pay-it-forward” principal. “It’s not about competition. It’s about collaboration,” says Debbie, “Sharing knowledge is something women are good at doing.” Knowing how important it is to seek inspiration from other women who’ve had success with their own careers, Ilona and Debbie acknowledge that accepting the responsibility of being role models is just as important.
“Women who do things before us gives us the belief that we can do it too,” says Ilona. “We hope that we can provide an example to women in generations that come after us,” says Debbie. “We hope that we can help them learn how to carve a better career path for themselves. We want them to learn from what we’ve done.” When it comes to looking forward at the future of women in the workplace, Debbie and Ilona believe there is still room for growth, “Statistically, we still have ways to go in terms of pay, and opportunities,” says Debbie. “But with more women taking charge and leading themselves and business women’s groups in different industries and sectors, we’re on the right track.”