WNORTH Taps Into Female Influence

WNORTH, an annual women’s leadership conference, will hold its third forum in Whistler from April 19 to 21 with a panel of female business leaders for keynote addresses and workshops.

Tracey Riley, managing partner, assurance at PwC Canada, will address the conference on how women’s perspectives improve the bottom line.

Pique caught up with Riley via email in advance of the conference to find out about the changing role for women in business.

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Heather Odendaal shines a deserving spotlight on women leaders at the WNORTH conference

When Whistler’s Heather Odendaal couldn’t find a conference that brought together ambitious career women aspiring to senior executive roles and women who were looking for an opportunity to network and hear from successful leaders, she created her own.

In 2015, this savvy entrepreneur and sales executive for a Fortune 500 wine company founded WNORTH Conference, a one-day event that attracted 120 attendees.

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Women, Resilience, and Working Together for Change

For the first time in the fifteen years that I have produced events, I endeavored to host an event without being there, in New York City. I called on my network, set a theme, chose a venue, and held my breath. Success would be the connection of women in a variety of industries, with the goal of reaching a leadership position, and a discussion with takeaways on how we can support more women on getting there.

With women still only representing 4.4% of CEO positions in S&P 500 companies, it’s evident that we still have some work to do and the only way we’re going to push the needle is to work together. That’s why I launched the upcoming WNORTH Conference in Whistler April 19-21 – to create a place where women could share their experiences, and together, make the path to the top easier for those aspiring to get there. The WNORTH Connect Dinner Series is a way for us to keep the “women on the rise” movement alive and well year round.

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For Immediate Release – WHISTLER, B.C. February 8, 2017 – WNORTH, a global gathering of women on the rise, today announces an exciting schedule packed with inspirational speakers, actionable workshops and opportunities for meaningful connections. Taking place in Whistler April 19-21, 2017, WNORTH is a boutique conference focused on providing a forum for women who are aiming for, or already on, a senior executive leadership track.

The theme of this year’s WNORTH Conference will highlight the relationship between Authenticity, Image and Power. Keynote speakers include Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, Founder, The Gaia Project for Women’s Leadership, who will speak on the Rise of the New Heroine, Dan Pontefract, author and HR Leader at TELUS, who will examine the Sweet Spot of Purpose in Work and Life, and Donna Carpenter, CEO at Burton, speaking on The Privilege of Power.

Speakers will come from all over North America and a variety of business sectors, to inspire attendees on impactful topics, including:

  • Jenn Martin, Canadian Forces – Pressure Under Fire: Leadership from the Front Lines
  • Manica Gautam , Partner at Campfire Capital – Venturing into new territory: empowering tales from the fundraising trail
  • Vicki Saunders, Founder of SheEO – Radical Generosity: A new model for accessing capital
  • Esther Ayorinde, Client Executive for Facebook at CiscoBlack Coffee
  • Ruby Roxx, Model and Vice President of Bonerattle Talent – Crushing Vulnerability: Taking the Power Back
  • Amy Stanton, CEO of Stanton and Company and former SVP Chief Marketing Officer at Martha Stewart Living    The New Feminine: Harnessing Your Personal Feminine Power
  • Tracey Riley, Managing Partner, Assurance at PwC Canada – The Value Add: How women’s perspective improves the bottom line 

Complementing a thought-provoking schedule of speakers is a series of meaningful workshops, covering topics relevant to women who aspire to senior leadership, such as the power of values-based leadership, building capacity, and new models for accessing capital.

Speakers and workshops will be balanced with chances to build valuable connections, through intimate networking opportunities such as the Connected Breakfast and Scandinave Spa social.

“In 2017 there is a greater need than ever for forums that provide support and leadership training to the next generation of female executives, as well as offering opportunities for professional women to connect and learn from each other on their path to senior leadership,” says Heather Odendaal, Founder & Curator of WNORTH. “My hope is that organizations, as part of their talent management programs, encourage attendance at WNORTH as a way to develop their high potential female employees. “

Heather is on a mission to grow a global community of women on the rise in business, to foster their careers as they ascend to executive leadership. WNORTH is making an impact as a female leadership brand not just through the annual conference, now in its third year, but through a series of WNORTH Connect Dinners – intimate networking events led by dynamic female business leaders. Past events have taken place in Vancouver, Whistler and New York City, with future events scheduled in San Francisco (March 1) and Los Angeles (March 3).


WNORTH’s unique program is designed to ignite dynamic conversations and meaningful long lasting connections, including actionable workshops and intimate networking opportunities. Conference registration is now open. The Conference pass includes:

  • Two days of keynote addresses, talks, and workshops,
  • Special events and meals including the Opening Reception presented by PwC, the West Coast Lunch at Aura Restaurant on Thursday, the Connected Breakfast and a light lunch on Friday. 
  • Access to the WNORTH Community Networking app, hosted on Bizzabo, to connect with other attendees in advance of the conference for pre-event networking. 
  • A new addition to the conference pass this year is a ticket to the Scandinave Spa Social Evening Event that will take place on Thursday, April 20. 

The WNORTH Conference presented by PwC will take place at the Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada from April 19-21, 2017. Other leading sponsors include McQuarrie Hunter LLP, the official law firm of WNORTH and Business Events Canada, a division of the Canadian Tourism Commission that will bring some of the US-based speakers to Whistler for the Conference.

Registration is open until March 17, 2017 at a cost of $850 CAD plus tax.  For full agenda details or to register visit www.wnorthconference.com



Helena Cox
Media Relations



Ellevate Network – WNORTH Founder Heather Odendaal featured on SHE BUILT THAT Podcast Series

“Heather Odendaal has a hard time “slowing down.” She’s a new mom to seven-month-old son Luke; the founder and CEO of Bluebird Strategy, an event production company she founded in 2010; and the co-founder of the WNORTH Conference, an annual gathering of global women on the rise that she launched with her husband in 2015. It’s easy to see why slowing down for Heather really isn’t an option.”


Whistler Question – The Big Idea: Elevating careers and connecting Whistler to the business world

“I am building the WNORTH brand to support driven, high-potential women across Canada, the U.S. and beyond. In Canada, we have 57 per cent of women in middle management positions, yet only 14 per cent at the executive level. We have to focus on the women mid-career in order to change these statistics.”


Donna Carpenter, CEO at Burton, To Join Global Gathering of Women on the Rise

Female Leaders Return to Whistler at WNORTH Conference

For Immediate Release – WHISTLER, B.C. November 16, 2016 – WNORTH Conference, taking place in Whistler April 19 – 21, 2017, has announced Donna Carpenter, CEO and Co-Owner at Burton, as a keynote speaker. WNORTH is a boutique-style conference focused on providing a forum for women who are aiming for, or already on, a senior executive leadership track.Donna oversees a long list of departments at Burton, from U.S. Sales and Sustainability to Women’s Leadership and Burton’s non-profit, Chill. She met Burton’s founder, Jake Burton Carpenter, in a Vermont bar on New Year’s Eve 1981. Ever since, she’s been a driving force at the world’s leading snowboard company. Deemed a ‘Super Woman’ by Refinery29 and ‘The Snowboard Ambassador’ by The New York Times, Donna officially became Burton’s Chief Executive Officer in 2016.

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Global Gathering of Women on the Rise will Highlight Authenticity, Image and Power

Female Leaders Return to Whistler Mountain Resort Spring 2017

For Immediate Release – WHISTLER, B.C. September 7, 2016 – The WNORTH Conference, is a boutique-style conference focused on providing a forum for women who are aiming for, or already on, a senior executive leadership track. The 3rd annual Conference is set to return to the Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, April 19 -21, 2017.

WNORTH Founder, Heather Odendaal announced that this year’s conference theme will highlight the relationship between Authenticity, Image and Power.  She revealed the first four speakers at the annual event in the spring, will include Amy Stanton, Esther Ayorinde, Dan Pontefract and Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin.

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She Built That – Work for other people before you work for yourself advises founder of WNORTH Conference, Heather Odendaal.

“Heather founded the WNORTH Conference when she couldn’t find a resource that brought together women aspiring to senior leadership roles and female entrepreneurs who wanted to grow their business all under one roof. So in true entrepreneurial fashion, she created her own conference. Similarly, she organized the second conference with a newborn attached to her hip.”


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