To find out more about the Enbridge Speakers Series, go to www.famous5.ca and click on the tab "Speakers Series Edmonton."
Cardiologist Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai calls herself an academic at heart. She spent over 30 years at the University of Alberta as a Professor of Paediatrics and as Associate Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Many of the opportunities Collins-Nakai has pursued have come out of the idea that there must be a better way, she says. “I got my MBA part-time while I continued to work full-time. Then I began to apply better management and leadership ideas to the faculty.” On May 13, 2015 Dr. Collins-Nakai will be speaking about the lessons she has learned as a leader as part of the Enbridge Speakers Series. This is the second year Enbridge and the Famous 5 Foundation have partnered in Edmonton to highlight the stories of remarkable women. “The series profiles extraordinarily successful women who speak about their careers and the passion, the vision and determination that drive them,” says Donna Leonard, the Foundation's Executive Director.
Dr. Collins-Nakai truly fits in this category. She was the first female president of the Alberta Medical Association, of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, of the Inter-American Society of Cardiology and the first woman and Canadian to chair the Board of Governors of the American College of Cardiology. It hasn't always been easy being a woman a leadership position in a predominantly male field. “Anytime you're creating change or challenging the hierarchy, there's resistance,” she says. “There was significant gender discrimination in medicine, primarily at the University of Alberta.” She recalls being told that she didn't deserve a wage increase because her husband was working and she didn't need the money. "Another time I was told I didn't get an appointment because people didn't want to work for a woman.” While there is still discrimination in medicine, Collins-Nakai says there may have been improvements since she left the faculty of the U of A. Collins-Nakai says she has a highly principled and ethical life partner—her husband— to help her stay balanced. She says she rose to the top by being willing to make difficult choices. For example, whether or not to spend more time at home with her family, and whether or not to advocate for something that may be controversial. For instance, when she was the president of the AMA, the abortion debate was a major issue. "It doesn't matter what position you take on abortion, 50% of people will be against you, and your kids will hear about it at school." Dr. Collins-Nakai says her recipe for success is to be creative and strive to be the best she can be no matter who is surrounding her. “You have to be courageous enough to ignore the macho approach and do what you think is right,” she says. “If many people collectively speak out, they can have huge influence. I will be building on the power of one, and talk about the power of many, what influence people can have if they work together."
Fact box: Where do I sign up?
To find out more about the Enbridge Speakers Series, go to www.famous5.ca and click on "Speakers Series Edmonton."
Boxing enthusiasts laced up the gloves on Sept. 9 to support a great cause and support one of their own.
The Edmonton Woman Magazine welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to delete comments deemed inappropriate. We reserve the right to close the comments thread for stories that are deemed especially sensitive. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher. All comments are moderated, and if approved could take up to 48 hours to appear on the website.