Mustering the Nerve to Lead: An intimate discussion with Martha Piper and Indira Samarasekera
November 23, 2021
Our Fireside Chat Features:
First women president of the University of British Columbia
Director – Bank of Montreal, Shoppers Drug Mart and TransAlta Corporation
Officer of the Order of Canada
First woman president of the University of Alberta Director – Magna International, TC Energy and Stelco
Past Director – Bank of Nova Scotia
Officer of the Order of Canada
Co-Founder/Board Chair – Board Ready Women & Axis Connects
Vice Chair – Export Development Canada
Director – Whitecap Resources
Board Chair – United Way World Leadership Council
Use Passcode: BRW2021!
Join us to hear from two pioneering women who embraced leadership opportunities with grit and grace and lessons learned along the way. As the first female presidents of two of Canada’s largest and most respected research universities and directors of some of the nation’s largest market cap companies, Martha and Indira offer candid and insightful perspectives on the dilemmas and opportunities women confront in leadership and how these learnings prepared them to maximize their impact on Boards.
MARTHA PIPER served as the first woman president of the University of British Columbia and has been a director of the Bank of Montreal, Shoppers Drug Mart, and TransAlta Corporation. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she was born in Lorain, Ohio, and lives with her husband, William Piper, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
INDIRA SAMARASEKERA served as the first woman president of the University of Alberta and is a director of Magna International, TC Energy, and Stelco and has served as a director of the Bank of Nova Scotia. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Martha and Indira recently authored “Nerve – Lessons on Leadership from two women who went first”, a must-read for any woman who is leading today, considering leading, or advancing their Board career.
You can purchase their book here.
The first woman president of the University of Alberta, Director of Magna International, TC Energy, and Stelco
Dr. Indira V. Samarasekera is a Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP and serves on the Board of Directors of Magna International, TC Energy, Intact Financial Corporation and Stelco. She served for over a decade on the Board of Bank of Nova Scotia. Dr. Samarasekera is on the selection panel for Canada’s outstanding CEO of the Year sponsored by Caldwell Partners and Bennett Jones. She is a member of the TMX Group/Institute of Corporate Directors Committee to Chart the Future of Corporate Governance in Canada. Dr. Samarasekera is a co-author of the book, “ Nerve, Lessons on Leadership from two women who went first”, ECW Press 2021. She recently served on Canada’s Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments for the Canadian Senate.
Dr. Samarasekera was the12th President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Alberta, from 2005-2015. She is internationally recognized as one of Canada’s leading metallurgical engineers for her groundbreaking work on process engineering of materials, especially steel processing. She has consulted for the steel industry worldwide on numerous quality issues. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2002 for outstanding contributions to steel process engineering. In 2014 she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in the US as a foreign associate, the professions highest honour.
As a Hays Fulbright Scholar, she earned an MSc from the University of California in 1976. In 1980, she was granted a PhD in metallurgical engineering from the University of British Columbia. She was Vice-President Research and held the Dofasco Chair in Advanced Steel Processing at the University of British Columbia prior to becoming President of the University of Alberta. She has received honorary degrees from the Universities of Alberta, British Columbia, Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, Western and Queen’s University in Canada, and Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. She received the Peter Lougheed Leadership Award from the Public Policy Forum in Canada in 2012, and named one of 5 runners up for the Nation Builder of the Year by the Globe and Mail in 2010.
Martha Piper, O.C., O.B.C., Ph.D.
The first woman president of the University of British Columbia, Director of the Bank of Montreal, Shoppers Drug Mart, and TransAlta Corporation
Dr. Martha Cook Piper was the Interim President and Vice Chancellor of The University of British Columbia from 2015-16. She also served as the 11th President of the University of British Columbia from 1997 to 2006 and during this time, was instrumental in establishing the campus in Kelowna (UBC Okanagan).
Dr. Piper has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Montreal, Shoppers Drug Mart, TransAlta Corporation and Grosvenor Americas Ltd. She has also served as a board member of CARE Canada, the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, and the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. She was Chair of the Board of the National Institute of Nanotechnology and served as a member of the Trilateral Commission.
Dr. Piper, received her B.Sc. degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Michigan, her M.A. degree from the University of Connecticut, and her PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University. She has served as Director of the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University (’79-’85), Dean of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta (’85-’93) and Vice President, Research and External Affairs, University of Alberta (’93-’97).
The recipient of 17 honorary degrees, Dr. Piper is an officer in the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of British Columbia. She was named Educator of the Year by the Learning Partnership in 2004, was appointed an Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford University in 2007 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2008.