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Executive Days 2020: Shelley Gray and Brooke Hamilton-Wong

Minerva’s Executive Days program provides Learning to Lead alumnae with an opportunity to connect with leaders in some of BC’s biggest companies. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from our Executive Days participants. We believe that mentorship is a two-way exchange, and through this blog series, we hope to impart some of the wisdom that has been shared through this program.

Meet Shelley Gray. As the first-ever female CEO of Industry Training Authority (ITA), Shelley is a trailblazer in a male-dominated sector. ITA is a crown corporation that oversees skilled trades training in B.C., ensuring that apprentices and employers across the province have access to the supports and resources necessary for a successful and fulfilling apprenticeship journey. Shelley joined ITA as a Director of Customer Experience in 2013 and the rest is history.

Meet Brooke Hamilton-Wong. Brooke is a Grade 12 student at Little Flower Academy in Vancouver, and suffice it to say — she is a busy young woman. In addition to balancing academics with extra-curricular activities, she is applying to university and is in the process of launching Aiding Angels, a non-profit volunteer branch of Good Guys BC whose mission is to fundraise for Vancouver’s homeless community.

Mentor Shelley and Mentee Brooke are in different places in life, but they have a lot in common. While Brooke is just getting started on her leadership journey and Shelley has been a leader for many years, they both recognize the value of diversity and inclusion.

Early on in her career, Shelley wanted to be a teacher. Although she ended up with a different career path, she still considers herself a teacher because, in her role, she strives to help people see their own strengths and values. And now, as the mother of two sons, she teaches her children the values she holds close to her heart. Shelley is grateful for the mentors that provided guidance along her career path and hopes to do the same for the next generation of female leaders.

“The leaders that have inspired me throughout my career all share traits of authenticity, empathy, and the desire to learn – which always served as foundations for their intentional direction and success.” – Shelley Gray on leadership

Brooke has only recently developed an interest in business. Similar to Shelley, she aspired to be a teacher when she was younger after having had positive experiences throughout her schooling years. Her desire to teach transitioned into an interest in engineering, which has now morphed into an interest in business and potentially actuarial science. After having pivoted a few times already, Brooke is concerned about switching careers down the line. However, her conversation with Shelley reaffirmed that change is normal.

When it comes to workplace culture, both Shelley and Brooke believe diversity and inclusion are paramount.

As a leader in a male-dominated sector like the skilled trades, Shelley understands the gender-based bias that women face along their career paths and she is proud of the work ITA is doing to elevate women in skilled trades. ITA helps women navigate the resources available to them but also knows that advocating for women in trades is about ensuring that employers understand the value of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Shelley is excited to see more women embarking on traditionally male-dominated career paths and knows that with every generation, more women will be at the table across all industries.

Brooke, who identifies as biracial,  holds diversity and inclusion as a priority as she progresses into the labour force. During her Executive Days conversation, Shelley reminded her that “as a woman, especially a woman of colour, people are going to press down of you, but don’t let them.”

Shelley’s participation in this year’s Executive Days reaffirmed her confidence in the future of work for women. “Brooke is exceptional, and I’m impressed with how much she has achieved in her career already. Her forward-thinking and perseverance will take her far. The future is in good hands with young leaders like Brooke.”

Thank you, Brooke and Shelley, for sharing your experiences!

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