Leadership Excellence Awards

The WCT Leadership Excellence Awards recognize the contributions and leadership of women, men and organizations who champion diversity and opportunity for women in Canada's communications and technology sectors. Our award winners exemplify leadership excellence and diversity in Canada's innovation industries.

We will be opening nominations for the 2022 awards in late summer 2021. Please check back more information or subscribe to our email list to be notified when applications open.

We recently wrapped up our WCT Celebrates: Sparks of Change series, honouring our 2020 LEA winners. More information on the series is below.

WCT Celebrates: Sparks of Change Series

Accelerating Change: The Vital Need for More Women in Technology | March 4, 12pm EST

Chameli Naraine, President & CEO of Symcor, 2020 Company of the Year, in conversation with Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada, Presenting Sponsor of WCT Celebrates: Sparks of Change.

President & CEO of Symcor, Chameli Naraine discusses why the technology sector needs more women in its workforce.

Join Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada and 2017 Company of the Year winner, as he speaks with Chameli to discover how Symcor, WCT’s 2020 Company of the Year, is accelerating the path of women in technology. Expect a passionate and insightful conversation as Chameli and Kevin discuss what it takes to accelerate change and the commitment required to integrate this mindset into the fabric of a corporation’s culture.

When Inclusion Leads Innovation: Insights from Across Sectors | March 4, 2pm EST

Sarah Paquet, 2020 Public Sector Champion-Government | Director & CEO, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada

Dr. Wendy Cukier, 2020 Public Sector Champion-Academic | Founder & Director, Diversity Institute, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 

Anuja Sheth, 2019 Trailblazer | VP, Business Networks and Bell TV, Bell

Moderator: Lisa Carroll, Canadian Public Sector Lead, Microsoft Canada (Presenting Sponsor of WCT Celebrates: Sparks of Change)

The future of innovation is inclusion. So is the present. Meet four women who are proving it. 

Prior to being appointed director of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) last September, Sarah Paquet served as one of the youngest Deputy Ministers and the most senior woman in IT in the federal government. Meanwhile in the corporate world, Anuja Sheth has been a VP at Bell since 2018 after increasingly senior management positions in the industry, paving the way for women and immigrant women of colour in the tech sector. It's possible that paths like Sarah's and Anuja's can be traced back to the tireless work of Dr. Wendy Cukier, a leading scholar on entrepreneurship, innovation, and inclusion: the Diversity Institute she founded at Ryerson University has been a driver of inclusion within the ICT sector for almost 30 years.

A perfect fit for this panel, moderator Lisa Carroll has held a number of leadership roles during her 30-year career in IT and currently co-chairs ITAC's Diversity and Inclusion Committee (Information Technology Association of Canada

Boldly Go Where Few Women Have Gone Before | March 11, 12pm EST (Sponsored by Shaw Communications.)

Françoise Gagnon, 2020 Trailblazer | CEO, ADGA Group Consultants Inc.

Sonia Brar, 2020 Innovator | VP, Customer Operations Strategy, Design & Delivery, Bell

Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, 2020 Entrepreneur | Founder, President & CEO, Profound Impact Corporation

Moderator: Carole Santerre, VP, Network Reliability & Service Assurance, Shaw Communications

Defence, security, and cybersecurity are particularly male-dominated industries within ICT/STEM. How does it feel to be one of the first? No strangers to being the only woman in the room, Françoise Gagnon, Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, and Sonia Brar are working to help more women discover and advance in innovative industries. 

Not only is Françoise Gagnon the only female owner of a mid-size defence company in Canada, she chairs the first-ever Gender Equity subcommittee of the Defence Industry Advisory Group. After three other successful start-up ventures and work as a cryptologic mathematician, Sherry recently launched Profound Impact Corporation, a platform for post-secondary institutions to measure their impact on technology and the world. In her VP role at Bell, Sonia is breaking barriers for women in IT through corporate initiatives like Women at Bell. All three also give countless volunteer hours to a range of organizations challenging women's under-representation. 

Having cracked a few glass ceilings of her own, Carole Santerre—currently a VP at Shaw—will moderate this discussion about paving the way for more women to ascend.

Nurturing Tomorrow's Sheroes | March 11, 2pm EST 

Victoria Pelletier, 2020 Mentor | VP & Senior Partner, North American Talent & Transformation Leader, IBM Canada

Caroline Gayle, 2019 Mentor | Managing Director, Accenture 

Moderator: Cheryl Fullerton, 2020 WCT Leader and EVP, People & Communications, Corus Entertainment

In social media terms, impact is about numbers of followers. But a great leader creates more leaders, not followers, they say. That idea is what drives Victoria Pelletier and Caroline Gayle.

Having joined IBM as the most senior woman within IBM Services in Canada, Victoria feels a sense of responsibility to coach, mentor, and advise women in IBM and beyond. One such outlet for Victoria is SheEO, an organization that supports and funds female entrepreneurs. Caroline plays a vital role in Accenture’s Getting to Equal movement and is Executive Sponsor of its Technology Women’s Initiative, which runs numerous initiatives to support and retain women across the company.

Moderating this discussion about why it's imperative for today's ICT/STEM leaders to dedicate time and guidance to tomorrow's is Cheryl Fullerton of Corus Entertainment, sponsor of WCT's mentorship program since 2015 and Protegé Project from 2015-2019.

Allyship in Action | March 17, 12pm EST

Xerxes Cooper, 2020 Diversity Champion | General Manager, Global Technology Services, IBM Canada 

Dr. Andrew Rau-Chaplin, 2019 Diversity Champion | Dean, Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University 

Moderator: Linda Sampson, Chief Financial Officer, Microsoft Canada

Being a true ally means walking the talk. In his role at IBM Canada, Xerxes Cooper's concrete action on women's representation has led to substantial results in recruitment, advancement, and supports. He further proves his commitment by being active in initiatives to deepen the pool of girls and women in STEM. In the academic sector, Dr. Andrew Rau-Chaplin also backs up conviction with action. He has set and met goals for women in Dalhousie University's computer science program, from recruitment to financial aid to mentorships, all the while setting a vocal example for leaders from across education, industry, and government to increase diversity in computer science. 

Moderating this session is Linda Sampson, Chief Financial Officer at Microsoft Canada. She will engage Xerxes and Andrew on why words simply aren't enough, and what drives them to drive change.

Young Women in Front! | March 17, 2pm EST

Eilidh Lindsay-Sinclair, 2020 Rising Star | Director, Marketing, CloudKettle 

Kate Arthur, 2020 Empowerment | CEO & Founder, Kids Code Jeunesse

Fatima Sarah Khalid, 2018 Rising Star | Developer Programs Engineer, Pantheon Platform 

Valerie Song | CEO, AVA Technologies & Kids Code Jeunesse Volunteer

Moderator: Maria Ellis, Canadian Lead AWS Partners, Public Sector, Amazon Web Services

Confidently situated front and centre in their organizations and fields, these impressive women personify growth. 

Eilidh Lindsay-Sinclair was a key force in CloudKettle's growth from the basement into a thriving tech consultancy firm. Wanting to level the playing field to make tech careers accessible to anyone, regardless of background, Eilidh helps nurture new tech talent with a free Salesforce training program and as founder of Digital Skills for Women. That same goal drives Kate Arthur. Determined to ensure every Canadian child has access to digital skills education, Kate grew Kids Code Jeunesse (KCJ) from a living room project into a multi-million dollar charity with nearly 900 Code Clubs across Canada. Fatima Sarah Khalid has grown from designing digital tools for drone pilots as a Code for Canada Developer Fellow to an engineer at the intersection of Pantheon and the developers who use it. 

As a volunteer dedicated to helping women and youth in STEM (including with KCJ), AVA Technologies CEO Valerie Song will weigh in on the importance of helping young talent grow.

Leadership for a New Era | March 25, 2pm EST 

Sabrina Geremia, 2020 Woman of the Year and VP & Country Director, Google Canada in conversation with Anne Gaviola, Senior Digital Broadcast Journalist with Global News.

Be inspired by our 2020 Woman of the Year and her unique experience and insight! 

With the global pandemic causing so many changes to the workplace and workforce, we’re having to flex leadership muscles in new ways to support and motivate teams. How can leaders navigate and adapt to the new reality, which also includes renewed calls for meaningful diversity and inclusion, mental health supports, and nimble technology? Joining Anne Gaviola for an intimate, timely conversation, Sabrina Geremia will reflect on the philosophies and actions that define her leadership. (Hint: it’s about going from purpose to impact!)


The Awards

Woman of the Year Award

This award is the highest individual honour bestowed by WCT.  It is presented to a woman executive who has made a significant contribution to the digital industries - broadcasting, telecommunications and technology - while also making a major contribution to the advancement of all women.  This award recognizes extraordinary leaders and visionaries who have made a material difference to the roles women play and their influence in the digital economy.  Nominations for this award must highlight the nominee's contribution to her industry and to the overall advancement of women.

Company of the Year Award

Every year, WCT recognizes a leading company in the digital sector that has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the advancement of women and achieved measurable results in creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces.  Company of the Year award winners are leaders in investing in diversity and inclusion.  Their consistent use of best practices to create greater opportunities and better workplaces for women distinguish them as role models and leaders in the Canadian economy.

WCT Leadership Excellence Awards

The Leadership Excellence awards celebrate individuals of achievement who have distinguished themselves in any sector of the communications and technology industries. 


This award recognizes the contributions of men in advancing women's engagement and leadership in the digital economy. These recipients demonstrate their belief that diverse organizations are better run, more successful and more innovative than homogeneous ones through personal action and advocacy.  They are active sponsors, mentors and promoters of gender equality.  Within their organizations they set policy and processes to maximize the contributions and influence of women in their workforce and across the whole Canadian economy. 


This award is for engaging girls in STEM recognizes an individual, program, organization or company that demonstrates success in empowering girls to continue their participation and education in STEM. It salutes an organization or program that has demonstrated leadership in inspiring girls to enter STEM and developing best practices as role models for girls in STEM.


They have the courage to go it alone, as a start-up or a woman-led business. Recipients of the award for Entrepreneur have blazed new trails or built the equivalent of a better mousetrap in technology, communications, broadcasting, social media or gaming. They’ve broken away from the pack to find their own version of success, contributing to our industry in new and definitive ways.


For Mentor award recipients, guiding and helping to develop women leaders in the tech and communications sectors is a fundamental responsibility. Nominees may be involved in industry-wide initiatives, or helping younger women bolster their careers at their own workplaces. Some mentors are natural, informal guides and coaches, always ready to listen and advise. Others are in more structured mentoring arrangements, working with selected candidates, helping develop programs, or getting their employer to support more mentorship programs, especially for women. This category is open to both women and men.


Preparing the industry’s next generation of leaders is a key tenet of WCT. This award is presented to a young person whose talent and leadership abilities are evident early in their career. They are quick off the mark and setting a new pace, influencing thought and charting new directions in tech/communications industries and organizations. 


Trailblazers create their own career path in sectors, disciplines or professions where women are absent or under-represented. Their pathways to success have demanded a strong vision and determination that vanquishes isolation and self-doubt to create a place not only for themselves but for other women who will follow.


Recipients of this special category of award have made exceptional contributions to WCT. They may have volunteered their time to help guide and run our organization or championed our mission with potential funders. They may have led and overseen the development of our training and scholarship programs, helping to shape the experience of women who will soon be leading our industries’ most influential companies and organizations.