Lunch Talk

Lunch Talk online - Women in Leadership

Lunch Talk online - Women in Leadership

Please note that the event will be held in English

Free and for members only

After so many efforts to help women break the glass ceiling in their organizations, the results still fall short. What can we learn from the successful organizations in this regard—what have they done differently? How can we get more women into leadership roles?


Janet Drysdale, MBA, Vice-President Sustainability, CN
Zabeen Hirji, MBA, Executive Advisor, Future of Work, Deloitte
Sarah Jordan, MBA, CEO, Mastermind Toys

Moderator: Olga Farman, MBA, Managing Partner, Quebec City Office, Norton Rose Fulbright

Janet Drysdale, MBA

Janet Drysdale is a seasoned and versatile executive with twenty-five years of cross-functional leadership in the transportation industry.

Ms. Drysdale was appointed Vice-President Sustainability in April 2021, following a decade of service in senior executive appointments of increasing scope and responsibility. Prior appointments included Vice-President Financial Planning, Vice-President Corporate Development, and Vice-President, Investor Relations.

Ms. Drysdale leads CN’s Sustainability and Safety groups. She is responsible for the Company’s integrated sustainability strategy, with associated goals designed to drive sustainable long-term business results, reduce risk, identify opportunities, encourage innovation, improve resiliency, and adapt to emerging mega trends. In collaboration with Operations leadership, Ms. Drysdale is also tasked with shaping and fostering a strong safety culture through programs, practices, training, systems and technology.

Ms. Drysdale is an independent director of Rumo S.A., Brazil’s largest freight railway and logistics company, is Co-Chair of the CN Employees & Pensioners Community Fund, and is the executive sponsor of the Women’s Employee Resource Group at CN.

Ms. Drysdale has long been an advocate for the rail industry, Canada’s critical supply chains, women in transportation, and the transition to a lower carbon economy. In 2020, Ms. Drysdale was recognized by WXN as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the executive leadership category.

Ms. Drysdale holds an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from Queen's University and an MBA from McGill University.


Zabeen Hirji, MBA

Zabeen is a Strategic Advisor to business, government and universities, focused on Future of Work, leadership and talent, workforce and culture transformation, lifelong learning and upskilling, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and purpose-led organizations. She is a corporate director and chairs a not-for-profit.

As Executive Advisor Future of Work at Deloitte, she advises the firm and its clients across sectors and industries on issues key to the transformation agendas of business and government. She leads CHRO20, a forum of CHROs from leading private and public sector organizations with the objective to accelerate both their own organizations as well as Canada’s economic recovery by co-creating innovative and sustainable workforce strategies for both short and long-term prosperity.

As a recognized proponent of inclusive prosperity through unlocking the potential of people, she advises senior levels of government and universities, and is a former advisor to the Clerk of the Privy Council for the Government of Canada. Zabeen is executive-in-residence at Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business, visiting Professor at King’s College Policy Institute, London, U.K. and a member of the External Advisory Board for EDI for the U.K. Research and Innovation Council.

Zabeen is a Director of Sleep Country Canada, a leading retail brand, which operates as Dormez-Vous in Quebec. She Chairs the Board Chair of CivicAction, a leading city-building organization and is a member of City of Toronto’s advisory council on Business and Culture Recovery. She is a former member of the University of Toronto Governing Council.

From 2007 to 2017, Zabeen was RBC’s Chief Human Resources Officer covering 80,000 employees in 40 countries, and a member of RBC’s eight-member Group Executive Committee. She was also responsibile for Brand, Communications and Corporate Citizenship. She led RBC’s People, Culture and Corporate Citizenship strategy during periods of significant transformation including digital disruption, rapidly changing customer, employee, and societal expectations, and significant growth in the US and U.K. During this time, RBC was consistently recognized as a Best Place to Work, a leader in diversity and inclusion, a leading brand and corporate citizen.

As a recognized thought leader in Future of Work, Leadership and EDI, Zabeen is a frequent speaker, writer and media commentator, bringing a practical perspective from her C-Suite experience, and a cross-sectoral mindset through her current roles.

Zabeen’s external recognition includes: HRD Global Top 100, Canadian HR Awards Ivey Business School Lifetime Achievement; Governor General's Meritorious Service medal for Diversity and Inclusion, Simon Fraser University Outstanding Alumni award, Catalyst Canada Champion for Women and Minorities in Business, 3-time WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women and Hall of Fame inductee, and 2-time Top 25 Women of Influence.

Zabeen holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University. 

Sarah Jordan, MBA

Sarah is CEO of Mastermind Toys, Canada’s largest specialty toy and kids book store. She leads 69 stores coast-to-coast and online with thousands of employees including stores, head office and warehouse – bringing to life their reputation as Canada’s Authority on Play, and creating a world class employee and customer experience. In 2020, Mastermind Toys was named The Most Innovative Retailer of the Year, and Sarah was recognized as a Global Influencer in Customer Experience.

Sarah is a passionate, energetic leader with a track record of delivering results while leading transformational change at organizations. Previously she was the Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Omni Channel Strategy at Scotiabank where she led the bank from #5 to #1 in customer experience ratings. She spent a decade with The Boston Consulting Group, where she advised Fortune 500 companies on large scale retail customer centric transformations and cultural change. Sarah holds both an MBA and an Engineering degree from Queen’s University. She is a lecturer at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in the MBA program, and a guest speaker at Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in their Innovation in Retailing & Services program. She is a board member at the Canadian Toy Association, the first-ever retail member in the organization’s history. She is also a jury for the 2021 Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends, one of the nation’s most respected and renowned industry awards.

Olga Farman, MBA (Moderator)

Olga Farman is the Managing Partner of the Quebec City office of Norton Rose Fulbright, a leading business law and litigation firm. She is also a member of the firm's national executive committee.

Her practice focuses corporate and commercial law, with a particular interest in life sciences and health law. Her business law practice focuses on areas related to contractual and corporate transactions, high technology and intellectual property.

Olga has valuable experience in clinical trials, personalized medicine and the use of technology in healthcare. She has unique insight into the Quebec and Canadian healthcare ecosystems and participates frequently in international partnerships involving clinical trials, records or biobanks.

Very involved in her community, she sits on the board of directors of Beneva, the Quebec Port Authority, the Musée de la civilisation Foundation and the Quebec City International Summer Festival. She is also a leader of the Effet A movement promoting women's leadership and was named one of Canada's "Top 100 Women Executives" (WXN) in 2019 in the Professional category.

Event presented in English

Free and for members only

Presenting Partner

Partenaires Gala 2019

Lunch Talks Partner



Gold Partner

Silver Partners

Partenaires Gala 2019

Bronze Partners

Seasonal Partners

Jun 08, 2021
From 12 PM to 1 PM

Event presented in English

Free and for members only

Panelists :

Janet Drysdale, MBA, CN
Zabeen Hirji, MBA, Deloitte
Sarah Jordan, MBA, Mastermind Toys
Moderator: Olga Farman, MBA, Norton Rose Fulbright