Executive Turned Thought Leader, Betty-Ann Heggie
Betty-Ann Heggie’s reputation as a champion for gender relations in the business world precedes her. She is well-known for founding the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship program at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business. Through mentorship, Womentorship is designed to keep females in the workforce and focused on obtaining challenging leadership roles in their chosen field.
Betty-Ann is a corporate director, a generous philanthropist and a former executive at the Saskatoon-based mining company PotashCorp (now Nutrien). She worked at PotashCorp for a total of 26 years and was in a senior role for the majority of that time. This achievement is particularly remarkable given that mining is an industry that remains male-dominated in Canada today.
Most recently, Betty-Ann published her book Gender Physics — a guidebook to the issue of changing gender roles in society. She also gives keynote speeches on how women and men can succeed together in the workplace of 2019. Her underlying message is that “we are all humans and we need to play to our strengths. Each individual is born to be who they really are.”
When asked about the components necessary to successfully write a book, Betty-Ann jokes “time and a chair.” She also cites years of blogging as the way she found her “voice and concept.”
Growing up in small-town Saskatchewan, above a hotel owned by her parents, Betty-Ann had hands-on professional experience at an early age. “My siblings and I became very service-oriented. It was an era of travellers and our guests were often regulars who wanted the same room each visit. In terms of my ability to learn on the job, working at the hotel served me well during my career in marketing and investor relations.”
“I remember a hotel guest telling my father that I had gumption and was ‘just like a boy.’ Similar to a lot of females, I internalized the message that it was favourable to be compared to a boy and that male attributes are more desirable in a business environment.”
After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, Betty-Ann landed at PotashCorp in a roundabout way. “I was working at Xerox and noticed this company that was increasing their photocopying and growing in leaps and bounds — that company was PotashCorp. I soon applied there and was hired for a sales position in 1981.”
Betty-Ann and her husband Wade have two adult daughters who are now in their mid-30s. When her daughters were growing up in Saskatoon was working full-time in a very demanding job. Wade’s more flexible hours in financial services meant that he was the parent who organized their daughters’ lunches and after-school activities. “Until they went away to university, my daughters didn’t realize that this arrangement wasn’t the norm in most families,” explains Betty-Ann.
Betty-Ann has received a multitude of awards for her trailblazing work in business and, specifically, as a woman in the mining industry. She continues to give keynote speeches on gender issues.