'I don’t hold it against men if they can't keep up'

CEO and reality TV star reflects on overcoming archaic attitudes en route to success

'I don’t hold it against men if they can't keep up'

There is no substitute for working your butt off, according to multi-millionaire finance guru Ann Kalplan.

The woman behind iFinance Canada Inc and star of reality TV show The Real Housewives of Toronto is the keynote speaker at the WP Innovation and Strategy Summit on May 29 in Toronto.

She will share her thoughts on the mindset behind her success and how she has managed to balance being a mother of eight with leading a firm from start-up in 1996 to one of the largest consumer finance companies in Canada, with loan applications exceeding $1 billion.

She is also twice a winner of The Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, has  authored four books – the most recent being How to be Successful in Spite of Yourself - holds a master’s in science and has just completed her doctorate.

She said: “Success doesn’t just happen like that – it happens a bit at a time. It’s that little bit you chip away every single day.”

What about establishing yourself as a successful woman in a typically male-dominated industry? She told WP there is sexism at every turn but, for the most part, ignores it and focuses on being the best in business regardless of gender.

She said: “I don’t hold it against men that they can’t keep up! I am really not someone who is pro having women’s events and/or women’s awards – I think we should be in the same box. They don’t have men entrepreneur of the year.

“Even though I’ve won the women’s entrepreneur of the year for Canada a couple of times, I was elated when I won the male/female one for Ontario. I never expected that.”

The awards don’t put a stop on old fashioned and inappropriate attitudes in the boardroom. Kaplan shared a story from a recent meeting with an investor that proved there is still a long way to go in the fight for equality.

She said: “There was one time in a meeting with investors and they were all men, all in a row. I knew we had the money and I was waiting for them in the boardroom. There was millions and millions on the table.

“The chairman was at the front of the row and was very short. I stood up and towered over him. He said, ‘I guess this must be pretty intimidating for you.’. I was appalled and replied, ‘I will try not to intimidate you any further’. I didn’t do business with him. It wasn’t just that, it was the whole attitude.

“I know finance in my sector as well or better than anyone in Canada in my speciality. They treated me like I had never done this before and I’ve done it for 23 years and have a doctorate and a master’s of science!”

Ann Kaplan will be sharing insights on this topic and more at the upcoming WP Strategy Summit on May 29. See further information or book your ticket here

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