Leading with Purpose: Shaping the Future Together

Leading with Purpose
Leading with Purpose: Shaping the Future Together by Silvia Pencak, President & CEO, WBE Canada; Jennifer Popowycz, Director, Certification & Community, WBE Canada;
Charli Law Jury, Director, Finance & Operations, WBE Canada. Originally published in WBE Canada Magazine; Issue 11. Read our full magazine HERE.

A lot has changed at WBE Canada over the past year. But a lot also remains the same. As we embark on a new year, we decided it was the perfect time to pull back the curtain on the work that has been happening behind the scenes and that will have a great and positive impact on our community in the upcoming years.

Everything began in 2022 when WBE Canada invested in the development of our long-term strategic plan. Our team, community, Board and its committees spent countless hours reviewing the challenges and opportunities ahead of us and prioritizing the goals. In August 2022 the new 2023-2027 Strategic Plan was born and immediately put into action.

WBE Canada set sail focusing on 4 priorities:

  • Accelerating Supplier Diversity through advocacy and support for our communities
  • WBE Database Development
  • Continuous Development of WBE Suppliers to propel business growth and improved capacity to support corporate needs
  • Organizational Excellence

As we completed the first year of our ambitious plan, WBE Canada remained steadfast, focusing on the same vision, mission, priorities and values that make us who we are. Yet, we recognized that we were different, larger, more seasoned and mature.

The rapid growth of our community has resulted in new opportunities and challenges. As a team we are adopting new technologies and new approaches, continually learning and retraining, and streamlining our processes to allow us to do more things better and faster.

Meet our leadership team and discover what’s coming up this year.

Silvia HeadshotSILVIA PENCAK
President & CEO

Silvia Pencak is the President and CEO of Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), a Canadian non-profit organization that is opening doors for Canadian women-owned businesses to corporate and government supply chains. Silvia has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit and business environment, leading transformational projects and teams. She is a member of the Advisory Committee to the PSPC Minister and advisor to other leaders across Canada, tirelessly advocating more opportunities and better support for Canadian women-owned businesses in Canada and globally. She is a co-author of The State of WBE Certification in Canada and The State of Supplier Diversity Programs in Canada research studies.

Why WBE Canada?
Many in the community know my story of why I joined WBE Canada so I’ll summarize it very briefly. As a former Certified WBE I fell in love with WBE Canada’s culture and welcoming community. As an immigrant with significant barriers entering the marketplace, I personally experienced the benefits of WBE certification and the access it provides for business owners like myself. I decided to join the team to help take the organization to its next level. And the rest is history. WBE Canada is an extremely busy workplace but also very fulfilling. The reason I stay and continue working hard is because of the ripple effect the organization is creating across the country. Seeing transformation in some of the top corporations is inspiring and watching them mentor women-owned businesses and helping them grow beyond their wildest dreams is incredibly rewarding. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with so many amazing people.

What are you most excited about for 2024?
I look forward to meeting our community virtually and in person. I’m always inspired by meeting our WBEs and Corporate Members, learning about their victories and challenges, and going back to the office to strategize the solutions and next steps. The best thing about WBE Canada is that none of the solutions are created in a vacuum – we listen to our community and co-create solutions together. Collaborations and partnerships are what make us better. As President, I’m also excited about the new leadership team at WBE Canada and the newly elected board. We’re turning the page and starting a new chapter and I have a feeling it will be a good one :)

What is the biggest “secret” the world should know about?
Definitely the Toolbox. Toolbox is an online library providing a great source of information for women-owned businesses looking to scale up their companies and do business with some of the top brands and governments interested in buying from women-owned companies. Toolbox also provides resources for corporations and governments committed to diversity and inclusion in their supply chains. We will continue adding new programs and resources in 2024, I hope that our community will find it useful and beneficial.

Who or what inspires you?
I absolutely LOVE to hear success stories. It doesn’t matter how big or small, learning about a WBE scoring a deal, a corporation finding an incredible WBE supplier or a small business hiring a single mom, there’s so much that helps me get up in the morning and keep going no matter how much work is behind me or ahead of me. Knowing that our efforts contributed to their success is definitely a positive I cherish.

Your favourite way to unwind?
As a lifelong learner, I like a good book or podcast, good music and good sleep. There’s a saying I heard a while ago and it pretty much describes me – “I was born with a reading list I will never finish.”

What is your wish for the WBE Canada community for 2024?
One of the key priorities at WBE Canada is to be an enabler of supplier diversity efforts in Canada and beyond. My wish is that we succeed in getting more women-owned businesses to more supply chains and as a community, we grow better and stronger. And if this is a tough year as many predict, we will stand together and support each other throughout every challenge. Happy 2024!

Director, Certification & Community

Jennifer is a testament to dedication and compassion in her field. Having worked at WBE Canada for 10 years, Jennifer has become a cornerstone of the organization, known for her patience, organization, and team-focused approach. Her role involves overseeing the Certification and Community department, ensuring alignment with the organization’s goals and objectives, and nurturing team growth and development. Jennifer excels in event and program oversight, department tracking and reporting, and providing exemplary customer support. Her ability to collaborate seamlessly with other departments has been instrumental in driving WBE Canada’s mission forward. Jennifer’s academic background in Psychology from York University adds a unique depth to her understanding of community dynamics, further enhancing her effectiveness in her role.

Why WBE Canada?
Simply put …it is the collaboration that occurs between our WBEs and our team in crafting events that provide valuable information within our community. Each day presents a new challenge which we can transition into a win. I find it rewarding working with our WBEs whether it is during the application process, assisting them in developing their capability statement, or breaking the ice during various events.

What are you most excited about for 2024?
For 2024, I’m really looking forward to enhancing our community engagement at WBE Canada. We’re planning to roll out more programming and event initiatives that will deepen connections within our community. It’s about creating more opportunities for collaboration, support, and growth for every WBE and Corporate Member. I can’t wait for everyone to experience the positive impact of these efforts.

What is the biggest “secret” the world should know about?
The ‘secret’ that should be more widely known is the incredible resource we have within the WBE Canada Toolbox. Toolbox is a game-changer for fostering connections and discovering opportunities within our community. I encourage everyone to explore the WBE Canada Toolbox to fully leverage the power of networking and collaboration that it offers.

Who or what inspires you?
What inspires me the most is the resilience and creativity of the women entrepreneurs we work with at WBE Canada. Their passion for their businesses, their energy to mentor others and their creative commitment to excellence motivates me every day to provide the best support and create a thriving community for them.

Your favourite way to unwind?
After a fulfilling day at work, my favourite way to unwind is by spending time with my family and our Golden Retrievers – Chester and Archie. Whether it’s a quiet evening at home or a good walk along the trails, these moments help me recharge and remind me of the importance of the supportive communities we build, both personally and professionally.

What is your wish for the WBE Canada community for 2024?
For 2024, my wish for the WBE Canada community is to see it grow stronger and more connected than ever before. I envision a year where our certification and community efforts lead to increased opportunities, deeper collaborations, and a greater impact on all our members.

Director, Finance & Operations

Charli, who joined WBE Canada last spring, is renowned for her multifaceted expertise and dynamic leadership. With a rich background in finance, cost accounting, and operations, Charli brings over ten years of experience from her tenure at CpK Interior Products Inc. and Agility CMS. Her proficiency extends to HR components, reflecting her holistic understanding of organizational dynamics. Charli’s approach is characterized by strategic thinking, cross-departmental collaboration, and a deep commitment to operational excellence. At WBE Canada, she plays a pivotal role in streamlining processes, ensuring financial health, and fostering an environment where operational efficiency and human-centric values coexist harmoniously. Charli’s dedication and empathetic leadership style make her an invaluable asset to the team and the broader WBE Canada community.

Why WBE Canada?
I chose WBE Canada because of its remarkable commitment to driving real change in the business world, particularly for women entrepreneurs. Here, I found a platform where my expertise in finance and operations could contribute meaningfully to an inspiring mission.

What are you most excited about for 2024?
For 2024, I’m thrilled about continuing the research project “Fast-Track to Supply Chains” in partnership with ISED. These types of research projects align perfectly with our objective of bringing important insights and data to industries, government and our community. This particular project addresses the barriers that women-owned businesses face when attempting to access supply chains. I’m eager for everyone to see how this research will positively transform our approach and drive impactful decisions.

What is the biggest “secret” the world should know about?
Our secret is the incredible dedication and hard work of our entire team at WBE Canada. Each member, across all departments, goes above and beyond, contributing to our robust programming and the development of invaluable tools and benefits. Their commitment is the driving force behind our success, and it’s something everyone should know about and appreciate.

Who or what inspires you?
I’m deeply inspired by the power of effective operations and finance in shaping the success of an organization. Seeing how strategic financial planning and operational efficiency can drive WBE Canada’s mission forward will be an exciting process to realize.

Your favourite way to unwind?
To unwind, I find the greatest joy and relaxation in going camping with my family for the weekend where we enjoy the simplicity of the outdoors and enjoying what nature has to offer while playing games and making s’mores on the campfire. These moments with loved ones provide me with the perfect balance and rejuvenation, allowing me to return to my work with a refreshed and focused mindset.

What is your wish for the WBE Canada community for 2024?
For 2024, my wish for the WBE Canada team is to continue to achieve their goals. When the team thrives the community at large can only benefit from our joint accomplishments. I hope our collective efforts will continue to engage the community and allow us to collectively have a stronger voice.

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