Thompson Rivers University

Young alum leading the way for women in business

March 8, 2017

Just three years after graduating with her business degree, Twyla Hartnell has climbed the corporate ladder to a successful career path in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

It wasn’t too long ago that walking into a financial institution would land you in a room filled with men, especially those holding managerial positions. A lot has changed and the gender gap in labour market participation has narrowed, but inequality in the workplace still exists.

The 2014 Bachelor of Business Administration grad is hoping to help break that mold and act as a role model for other women in business.

As a corporate analyst in energy financing for HSBC in Calgary, Alberta, Hartnell is often the only woman at the boardroom table. An empowered and educated woman, she hopes that by working in a male-dominated industry and for a company she feels passionate about, she can be an example and a mentor to other women with the same passion for corporate finance.

“I think women have come a long way in changing the face of many industries that have traditionally been male-dominated, but there is still a long way to go,” said Hartnell, who was co-president of the TRU Finance Club as a student.

“Women still face pay inequality for doing the same jobs as men and I believe women generally have to work one and a half times harder to fight the stigma which assumes that women prioritize family over their career.”

Hartnell credits her time at TRU in the Co-op program, the Career Mentoring program and attending events, for teaching her the power of building a network. She believes a strong network is one of the most powerful tools one can have.

“As a student, Twyla was extremely involved and always willing to make career connections—these skills lend well to finding career success after graduation, so it’s no wonder she has done so well,” said Arlene Olynyk, alumni relations manager. “Twyla is still involved as an alumna, and continues to stay connected by attending alumni events in Calgary.”

She is also a member of the Young Women in Business, Calgary chapter, which connects ambitious, like-minded women across educational fields, careers and industries, and provides support, skills, and networking opportunities that allow women to achieve success on their own terms.

“As women in business we share many of the same experiences, issues and struggles,” said Hartnell. “Knowledge and awareness about workplace discrimination and fully understanding how to equip yourself is really important,” she said.

She admits to sometimes feeling intimidated and sometimes second-guessing her own opinions while at the table in a room full of men.

“Because I recognize that I have these insecurities, and I am conscious of my thoughts, I am more inclined to overcome any self-doubt I might have and voice my opinions.”

Hartnell recommends the book Lean In by Cheryl Sandberg as a resource for those looking to become leaders. The book challenges us to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what we can do, and serves as a rallying cry for us to work together to create a more equal world.

Check out Sandberg’s powerful Ted Talk. Happy International Women’s Day.

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