Women guiding women in the workforce

Heggie helps women to discover their own leadership qualities

by Jillian Clark
A close-up photo of Betty-Ann Heggie.

Betty-Ann Heggie was a successful leader in a male-dominated company; now she has dedicated her retirement to help other women find similar success. — Photo courtesy Betty-Ann Heggie

After succeeding in her own career at Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Betty-Ann Heggie has dedicated her retirement to helping other women find similar success. She is the creator, financier and leader of Womentorship, a successful mentorship program, partnered with the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

As a woman who spent her own career catalyzing ground-breaking movements, Heggie now helps women recognize their own “catalytic moments” within their careers. Through the science of “Gender Physics,” Heggie guides women looking to reach leadership roles.

Heggie believes in the value of mentors. “Mentors help us understand the system,” she said. “Women walk a narrow path with very little room for error.” With accessible female mentors, Heggie hopes that her proteges will gain the personal confidence and attributes associated with leaders. Her Womentorship program pushes “the necessity of women supporting women.”

Heggie’s strong passion for female potential drives her Womentorship program and goals forward. All companies would benefit from more women in leadership positions, but some women require guidance to realize their potential.

“If you ask a successful woman if she has had a mentor, 90 per cent of them will say 'yes,' ” Heggie said. Her Womentorship proves exactly that. Successful women gather regularly to share, grow and guide one another as mentor-proteges. The program is a one-year relationship that builds individual confidence in the workplace.

Her business expertise makes Heggie the perfect fit for a mentorship role. “My goal is to try to get more women to the decision-making table,” Heggie said. “I consider that my passion and my mission.” By drawing from her own experiences, Heggie appropriately brings other women to discover their own leadership qualities.

Heggie found her own mentors, even within the male-dominated world of Potash Saskatchewan: “I had very important mentors in my life—I was very lucky.”

The balancing act

Heggie’s philosophy, the Womentorship program and her personal experiences are all based around balance. A balance between work and home, between “masculine and feminine energy,” paved the way for her outstanding career and a gratifying retirement, she said.

“Balance is an interesting topic,” Heggie said. “Instead of saying 'I am going to balance,' I say 'wherever I am, I am going to be all here.' ” To Heggie, balance is like walking: “It’s a bit like stepping from one world to the other.” You step left, then right, but you can’t do both at once. And, most importantly, “you need to keep doing both to move forward.”

Passion brings success

“The program is not about me,” Heggie stressed. “I would like that program to be there forever, but I’m not going to be there forever.” Mentorship itself is a great experience, but a Womentorship is a different kind of exceptional: “There’s something about the atmosphere when women are coming together to support each other,” Heggie said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

The proteges involved gain experience and skills they would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. “They leave standing taller and more confident,” said Heggie. And how could they not after receiving guidance from an all-star businesswoman? “I see them take risks and it is very gratifying,” she added.

Not many people use their retirement to actively contribute to the wellness of others.

Unlike most people, Heggie was happy with her success at every stage of her career. “Before I was even made a vice-president, I thought that I had achieved success,” Heggie said. Now, after winning countless awards, including the Women in Mining Canada Trailblazer Award and the YWCA Lifetime Achievement Award, Heggie still strives to give back, breaking through one “glass ceiling” after another.

A seriously passionate woman, a successful leader in a male-dominated company, a mentor, an author and a speaker—Betty-Ann Heggie does it all and has seen it all while remaining authentic. “I’ve felt successful because I got to be who I was and be authentic, and that was gratifying, and I was able to do the jobs on my terms and being who I was,” she said.

 

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