Rotman School of Management

Main Content

TD & Rotman Essay Competition

#yourstoryyourfuture

About the TD & Rotman Essay Competition


Here is the story of our journey from the launch of the competition to the selection of the grand prize winner – we hope you enjoy the ride!

TD & ROTMAN WOMEN @ WORK SYMPOSIUM – ESSAY LAUNCH EVENT
On February 26, 2015 TD & Rotman held a Women @ Work Symposium that featured a keynote address by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations and Author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. Gayle shared with us the incredible story of a real-life heroine; Kamila Sidiqi, a young entrepreneur whose home-grown business created jobs and hope for many women in her Afghanistan neighborhood during the years of the Taliban rule. Gayle’s remarkable and insightful address provided an inspiring avenue for the launch of the TD & Rotman Women @ Work Essay Competition. This essay competition was designed to be a platform to voice the challenges, trade-offs, opportunities, and rewards that Canadian women face in advancing their career, family, and legacy aspirations, as well as to further the conversation about what corporations and academic institutions can do to better prepare women for, and support women through, these important life stages.

WHAT WAS INVOLVED IN THE COMPETITION?
The TD & Rotman Women @ Work Essay Competition was open to any female, with 10 or more years of work experience; who was currently working in Canada; and, who held a University degree. In order for an application to be considered complete, the candidate needed to submit the following three application components: the online essay application form, a copy of their current CV, and their 1500-word personal essay – all prior to the competition deadline of 5 p.m. (EST) on April 23rd, 2015.

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE DEADLINE?
As the deadline drew nearer, the submissions began to arrive in a strong, steady stream. After 5pm on April 23, 2015 the count came in – we had a total of 359 submissions. The response was overwhelming. Clearly this was a subject that women were ready to discuss. Submissions came in from across Canada, with geographical representation from coast-to-coast: Yellowknife (NT) to Tatamagouche (NS). The initial judging panel had the privilege of reading all the essays, but the extremely hard job of narrowing them down from 359 to a mere 18 essays to proceed to the next round. The finalist judging panel read all 18 essays and then met in mid-May to debate, discuss, and select the finalists. While the original plan was to choose five, in the end there were six finalists. We encourage you to visit the finalist tab to read their amazing biographies.

FINAL PRESENTATION & SELECTION
The time had come to notify the finalists. Each finalist received a personal phone call – a process we found to be incredibly rewarding for both them, and us. After personal and professional references were checked, travel arrangements were made for the six finalists to come to Toronto for a roundtable discussion with the final judging panel on June 15, 2015. The day was busy, with interviews starting early and each individual discussion being timed to precision.  By 10am, the judges had met each finalist, and were left to make the incredibly difficult task of selecting the recipient of the grand prize of  $10,000; each of the remaining finalists will also receive a $1,000 award for sharing their incredible personal journeys.

_______

THANK YOU - On behalf of TD & the Rotman School of Management’s Initiative for Women in Business, we want to extend a sincere and resounding thank you to all the women who called, emailed, and participated in this essay competition. We are so grateful to everyone for sharing their unique perspectives on the important topic of the interplay between work, family, and personal legacy aspirations. The essays submitted spanned an enormous breadth of experiences, backgrounds, and industries. The stories were exceptional and incredibly inspiring – bringing tremendous insight to the topic of Women @ Work in Canada. Thank you!

FINAL REPORT LAUNCHED MARCH 8, 2016 - The Women @ Work Essay Competition was part of an innovative research initiative between TD and the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Over the summer of 2015, Rotman researchers looked at all the essay submissions in aggregate, to assess patterns and trends surrounding the choices women have or have not made between their career, family, & personal legacy aspirations.  In addition to looking at the essays, Rotman researchers and TD Staff held focus groups across the country to collect additional information. The goal was to collect all of the findings and publish them in a thought leadership report, which is now posted on this web page and titled "10 Lessons: Women @ Work Managing Career, Family & Legacy"

A total of 359 submissions came in from across Canada, with geographical representation from coast-to-coast: Yellowknife (NT) to Tatamagouche (NS). The initial judging panel had the privilege of reading all the essays, but the extremely hard job of narrowing them down from 359 to a mere 18 essays to proceed to the next round. The finalist judging panel read all 18 essays and then met in mid-May to debate, discuss, and select the finalists. While the original plan was to choose five, in the end there were the following six finalists.

FINALISTS

DR. KAREN DAWSON is an executive coach, consultant, and university faculty member. She heads, Create Now, a boutique consultancy that helps leaders and teams grow new capacity for change. Karen gets fired up about organizational evolution; loves a glass of red and cracking open the conversation at a cocktail party.  She is passionate about running half marathons (slowly). Her past lives include: being a flight instructor in the Canadian military cadet program; a certified fitness trainer; a high school teacher; fine arts department head; jail matron and; theatre improviser and director. Karen has a B.Ed from the University of Alberta, MA from Royal Roads University and a Ph.D. from Tilburg University in the Netherlands. She currently serves as faculty at The Banff Centre, Royal Roads University and the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business. She is also a collaborator and co-founder of The Deeper Funner Change Project.

DR. LOREEN GILMOUR, PhD, MBA, BComm is the Director of Policy, Research and Operations at the Calgary United Way. This work contributes to developing solutions that are program, policy and systems based for all vulnerable groups and neighborhoods. Our partners include the provincial and municipal governments, local business community, major donors and non-profit agencies. Previously, Loreen was a member of the Board of Directors for the Calgary Health Region, while simultaneously completing a PhD that investigated how front line managers implement policy. She began her career in marketing for consumer package goods, was a college professor and has been on several non-profit boards.

TANIA GRIMMER is a mental health worker with the Canadian Mental Health Association. She is the mother of two daughters.  Tania received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Criminology. Following a 15 year career as a police officer, she returned to university and earned her Master’s degree in Social Work.  She has worked with palliative clients in a hospice, clients with psychosis in a psychiatric hospital and clients in the community suffering from e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia and major depression.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, meditating, hot yoga and walking her Golden Retriever, Bentley. 

KARI LYNN LARSEN is President & Founder, Dragonfly Meeting Solutions Inc. She has over 25 years of experience in public relations, marketing and conference/event management. An accomplished business executive, she has an extensive account management and sales background, working in both the corporate and agency environments. As President of Dragonfly, she utilizes her experience and skills to develop and foster successful conference, event and incentive strategies for her clients. Kari Lynn graduated from University of Calgary with a BA in Criminology, and Mount Saint Vincent University with a Bachelor of Public Relations.  She and Dragonfly are members of Meeting Planners International, Society of Incentive & Travel Executives, and WBE Canada. 

TARA (LUFT) MORA - With an Hon. B.A. in Semiotics and Communication Theory and a dynamic mix of patience, persistence, and entrepreneurial spirit, Tara has built a career on the digital disruption of Canada’s cultural industries. First at Warner Music Canada and then at MapleCore Ltd., she led teams in using the Internet to create opportunities for artists. After fifteen years of late rock ‘n’ roll nights, Tara traded in the lifestyle, but not the culture. Currently the Executive Producer for CBC Books and Literary Partnerships, Tara is responsible for the strategic vision, editorial and digital direction, and day to day function of the CBC’s literary properties.

JENNIFER VILLEBRUN is a lawyer of Metis heritage who has practiced primarily in northern Alberta for the past ten years, five of which were as a sole practitioner.  From 2011 to 2015 she operated a local retail store with her sister, which started out in office supply sales and expanded to include giftware and flowers.   She has been actively involved in a number of organizations in the past including acting as President and Vice-president of the Valleyview Chamber of Commerce, Secretary for the South Peace Habitat for Humanity and as a political activist including running for office. 

TD & Rotman Women @ Work Report - 10 Lessons: Women @ Work Managing Intersections of Career, Family & Legacy

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Rotman School of Management and TD Unveil National Report on the Professional Advancement of Women in Canada

TORONTO, March 8, 2016 – A newly released joint report from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and TD Bank Group (“TD”) paints an intimate portrait of how women across the country perceive the challenges and opportunities in advancing their careers.

“We understand that women have unique needs it comes to wealth management, future planning and professional well-being," said Sandy Cimoroni, Chief Operating Officer, TD Wealth and Chair, Women Investor Program. "Our mutual goal with this report was to have an honest and critical look at the challenges that Canadian women face in advancing their professional and career aspirations. A significant discovery was that women bring different perspectives to what professional advancement means – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all point of view.”

The report, titled 10 Lessons: Women @ Work Managing Career, Family & Legacy, is the result of a year-long research project and essay competition that engaged working women from coast-to-coast. During the year, 10 key themes emerged on how women can achieve success in their life, work, and legacy goals. 

The lessons stemmed from real  experiences and tried and true advice on topics ranging from pursuing education and building strong professional networks, to exploring more intimate topics such as trade-offs between career and family, and rethinking guilt for choosing one over another. 

“A key finding from our perspective is the significant role education and financial sectors may play in contributing to solutions and future successes in furthering women’s careers,” said Walid Hejazi, Associate Professor, Rotman School of Management.

The research for this report began last February when TD and the Rotman School launched an essay competition inviting women from all across Canada to submit personal essays describing their experience navigating family, career and legacy aspirations.

“Many women identified financial preparedness for life's unexpected curveballs, like divorce, illness or unemployment, as critical to achieving their long-term goals” added Cimoroni. “Having a clear understanding of their current financial state, a solid long-term plan and an emergency fund were just some of the key financial lessons women shared.”

In June the winner of the competition was announced at a conference in Toronto. Dr. Karen Dawson from Calgary, Alberta won the competition, along with a $10,000 prize and the honour of having her essay included in the official report. Dr. Dawson is living her version of “Having it All” as she has created a personal and professional life that works for her and her family: she pursued her passions, was able to spend more time with her children earlier in life, developed new skills as she navigated through unexpected events through her life and rebalance her commitments over time.

Rotman School of Management is located in the heart of Canada’s commercial and cultural capital and is part of the University of Toronto, one of the world’s top 20 research universities. The Rotman School fosters a new way to think that enables our graduates to tackle today’s global business challenges. The Rotman School of Management is a leader in promoting and supporting gender diversity and is the only business school in Canada with a dedicated Initiative for Women in Business. For more information, visit www.rotman.utoronto.ca.

 

Rotman’s Initiative for Women in Business has been committed to strengthening the female talent pipeline since 2008. With programming tailored for each stage of a woman’s career, participants gain strategic decision-making and leadership skills, and learn how to influence and inspire teams. Together with award-winning faculty and corporate partners, we proudly support women’s career development as a keystone to organizational prosperity. www.rotman.utoronto.ca/women

About TD Bank Group - The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Group ("TD" or the "Bank"). TD is the sixth largest bank in North America by branches and serves more than 24 million customers in three key businesses operating in a number of locations in financial centres around the globe: Canadian Retail, including TD Canada Trust, TD Auto Finance Canada, TD Wealth (Canada), TD Direct Investing, and TD Insurance; U.S. Retail, including TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, TD Auto Finance U.S., TD Wealth (U.S.), and an investment in TD Ameritrade; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD also ranks among the world's leading online financial services firms, with approximately 10.2 million active online and mobile customers. TD had CDN$1.1 trillion in assets on October 31, 2015. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades under the symbol "TD" on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.

About TD Wealth  - TD Wealth represents the products and services of TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. (Member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund), TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc., TD Wealth Private Trust (offered by The Canada Trust Company) and TD Wealth Private Banking (offered by The Toronto-Dominion Bank).

After much deliberation, the winner of the TD & Rotman Women @ Work Essay Competition and recipient of the $10,000 grand prize was Karen Dawson. It was her thoughtful self-reflection, insightful advice and positive spirit that swayed the judges.

TO read the winning essay click here.

Karen was interview on SiriusXM Canada Talks show “What She Said” hosted by Christine Bentley, Kate Wheeler and Sharon Caddy.

 

MEDIA

Monday June 15, 2015 the Initiative for Women in Business at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and TD Bank Group (“TD”) announced the winner - Dr. Karen Dawson - of the TD & Rotman Women @ Work Essay Competition during a celebration lunch.

To view the winner's announcement Click Here
____

TD & Rotman Women @ Work Symposium and Essay Competition Launch
On February 26, 2015 the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and TD Bank Group (“TD”) announced the establishment of a two year think tank initiative to support the advancement of women.  Through community outreach with an Essay Competition and later a research paper, the Rotman School and TD are seeking to generate and share innovative perspectives about women's career, family and legacy aspirations.

To view the press release Click Here
____

MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Ken McGuffin, Manager, Media Relations
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
T: 416-946-3818 or E:mcguffin@rotman.utoronto.ca

Natasha Ferrari
Corporate & Public Affairs
TD Bank Group
T: 416-983-7180 or E: Natasha.ferrari@td.com 

For Essay Competition Questions:
Email tdwomenatwork@rotman.utoronto.ca

The TD & Rotman Women @ Work Essay Competition was led by Rotman’s Initiative for Women in Business.

Rotman’s Initiative for Women in Business has been committed to strengthening the female talent pipeline since 2008. With programming tailored for each stage of a woman’s career, participants gain strategic decision-making and leadership skills, and learn how to influence and inspire teams. Together with award-winning faculty and corporate partners, we proudly support women’s career development as a keystone to organizational prosperity. www.rotman.utoronto.ca/women

We would also like to thank the following organizations and associations for their support and for reaching out to their members and letting them know about the Essay Competition. Through their efforts to include the Essay Competition in their newsletters, tweets and postings, we were able to reach out to so many extraordinary women – many of who shared their stories. Thank you to our partners for helping us to further understand how family and legacy aspirations intersect with the career aspirations of professional women.

Thank you for your contribution toward enhancing the personal and professional lives of Canadian women.

Society of Canadian Women in Science & Technology (SCWIST):  www.scwist.ca

Women in Capital Markets: www.wcm.ca

Women Executive Network: www.wxnetwork.com

Forum for Women Entrepreneurs:  www.fwe.ca

BC Women in Energy Network: www.bcwen.ca

Halifax Chamber of Commerce: www.halifaxchamber.com

The Commons Calgary: www.thecommonscalgary.com

SXM Canada Talks: www.siriusxm.ca/channels/canada-talks

What She Said: www.whatshesaidradio.com

Calgary Economic Development: www.calgaryeconomicdevelopment.com

Money Talk: www.bnn.ca/Shows/Money-Talk

Daley Progress Inc.: www.daleyprogress.com

 

TD
Initiative for Women in Business

10 Lessons: Managing Career Family & Legacy Download the final report

We asked Women @ Work - they answered. 

The women in our study agreed on 10 key lessons, our hope is that by sharing these lessons we can inspire and support women in any of their aspirations:

Privacy Statement

Your privacy is important to us. All personal and essays information submitted will remain strictly confidential. The Essay Administrator, Research Assistant and Selection Committee members have signed confidentiality agreements related to this project. Any application and essay information used for research papers will be stripped of personal details to focus on general trends and findings.