Hillberg & Berk Foundation Inspirational Women 2014: Betty-Ann Heggie

Betty Ann Heggie Hillberg & BerkBetty-Ann Heggie dedicated her career to challenging stereotypes and knocking down walls. Today, after retiring from the corporate world after 27 years of successes, being inducted into the Hall of Fame of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, receiving the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal, the YWCA Lifetime Achievement Award, the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Award for Mentorship, and the Stevie Award for ‘Women Helping Women,’ Betty-Ann helps women continue to lead the way in the business world, through the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Foundation. Growing up with an appreciation for business and for the importance of service, Betty-Ann’s entrance in the workforce set the tone of her future. She would be a trailblazer. “I started as the first female beer representative for one of Canada’s leading brewers, Labatt’s.” In the years that followed, Betty-Ann faced – and overcame – the barriers that at the time women regularly clashed against, “over the next few years I tried my hand at advertising, Xerox, and potash. In each step of my career, I was hired as a ‘token woman’ and had to prove my worth in male-dominated work environments. At PotashCorp, the world’s largest fertilizer producer, I worked my way up the ranks at a time when the elevator didn’t necessarily go all the way to the top, at least for women.”

Betty-Ann fearlessly challenged the antiquated policies that dominated – and sometimes still dominate – the workplace. It is thanks to the determined battle fought by women like her that a younger generation of female professionals can now advance more easily in the workplace. “Many of the things that were seemingly insurmountable hurdles for me are now handled routinely by the next generation of career women. For example, I remember early in my career, being told that I wasn’t going to be included in a sales meeting because I might hear swearing! I fought that policy, was included in the meeting and women have been attending sales meetings at that company ever since.”

Today, the Betty Ann Heggie Womentorship Foundation helps women achieve key decision-making roles. As one of the few career-women in her workplace, Betty-Ann realized early on the importance of mentorship and guidance, “I looked for men who had wives or daughters breaking into management as I knew they would be sensitive to my situation.” Today, with the help of her Alma Mater, the University of Saskatchewan, Betty-Ann brings together successful business women and young female professionals to create a network of mentorship designed to share energy, ideas, and experience. “Each year we match aspiring young women with more experienced women to form a mentorship relationship. Between our Womentorship program and our annual women’s film festival we have reached more than 18,000 women. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to see young women who have come through the Womentorship program become more confident and openly offer their opinions; put up their hands and volunteer for assignments; take a risk by leaving unsatisfactory positions to start their own businesses or form a valuable network. Best of all women who have entered our program as protégés have come back to mentor others. It truly is a winning legacy.”

Hillberg & Berk is proud to sponsor Betty-Ann and her groundbreaking work to empower women do their best in business by donating to the Betty-Ann Womentorship Found