Rachel is an account manager at Vovia with a background in the exciting world of websites and digital project management. When she's not analyzing reports, strategizing with clients or crunching numbers, you can find her enjoying hanging out with her family and friends, exercising, creating a new salad mix for lunch or travelling.

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International Women’s Day

“When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world.”International Women’s Day website.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day and its 2024 theme of “inspiring inclusion,” we’d like to celebrate the remarkable female leaders at Vovia. In the following, they share their experiences in advertising, the women who motivate them, and how their strong connection contributes to Vovia’s exceptional leadership team.

Pictured left to right: Renu Deswal, Tracy Gonzalez, Stacey McIntyre, and Susan Murphy.

What is IWD?

How is IWD celebrated in Canada?

March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD). It is celebrated in Canada as a global day to recognize and celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It is also a time to raise awareness of the progress made toward achieving gender equality and to advocate for further action. IWD has been celebrated for well over a century and was first officially observed in 1911. The United Nations has been sponsoring IWD since 1975, and it has become a mainstream global holiday following its adoption by the UN in 1977.

In Canada, various activities are organized to mark the day, including public events, social media campaigns, and the sharing of inspiring stories about Canadian women and gender equality. The Government of Canada often announces a specific theme for IWD, such as the 2023 theme “Every Woman Counts,” to highlight the importance of inclusivity and the contributions of women from all walks of life. Additionally, organizations may hold events, workshops, or discussions to address gender equality issues and promote female leadership. Overall, IWD in Canada is a day of unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action[1][2][3].

Susan Murphy

After finishing my B.Comm & MBA, I started my career in the early 2000’s as a market researcher with Nortel Networks and then Canada Safeway here in Calgary. By 2005, I moved over to the Loyalty Group (AIR MILES) and a few years later moved on to Venture Communications where I remained for several years. I met one of my business Partners (an influential person in my life) Cameron Prockiw (founder of Vovia) through an account we collaborated on which led me to my current role at Vovia, where I am just coming up on 10 years.

Women who have influenced me:

Being a business owner, marketing consultant, wife and mother I have a number of female influences in my life that I am extremely grateful for. Over my past 20 year career, the most influential female leader for me is Jennifer Cioffi, who was the President at Venture Communications. She is one of the most intelligent, hard-working and supportive leaders I have ever had. If I ever had a challenge, I really admired her approach in understanding all the aspects of the circumstance and working with me to find a solution. She also was phenomenal at holding me accountable on areas I needed to improve at but executed the feedback in a kind and helpful way.

I also met Stacey McIntyre at Venture and was excited to reunite with her here at Vovia, which I think speaks to how much I regard her! I admire how passionate Stacey is about her work, how well read and knowledgeable she is, how deeply she cares for her team, and my favorite attribute is her honesty (she too holds me accountable when I need it and I love that). I also recruited Tracy Gonzalez to replace me at Venture and we kept in touch ever since. I have been excited to reunite with her in the past couple of years. I admire her leadership, empathy for her teammates and exceptional communication skills. Being a marketing consultant for so many years has allowed me the opportunity to work with many amazing women that were either teammates or clients, many I have remained friends with even after our careers have changed. Anyone that has been in my life for more than 5 years (teammates, clients, friends) has definitely shaped me based on qualities I admire in them.

I have close female friends like Carla Morris, where when I see what she accomplishes at TransCanada it drives me to push myself more. My other close friend Jaime McHardy impresses me with how she juggles being a mother, wife and successful marketing consultant. Lastly, the most important and influential woman for me is my mother Judy Murphy, she is one of the most optimistic, empathetic, intelligent, selfless individuals I have ever met and is an amazing communicator. Her guidance and support has helped me juggle being a caring and supportive mother, wife, leader and friend. I feel so grateful to be surrounded by such inspiring and intelligent women.

Tracy Gonzalez

I have had the opportunity to work with many exceptional women in my career on client side with OLG and Kellogg’s, and on agency side at Inventa and Rain. This includes all the remarkable clients I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with. Today, I feel fortunate to be surrounded by women leaders who I admire and value immensely at Vovia: Susan, Stacey and Renu. You inspire me by each bringing unique perspectives shaped by your own lived experiences, enriching my understanding of different viewpoints and enhancing our team’s dynamics, in addition to nurturing Vovia team members.

Women who have influenced me:

Where do I start? It’s truly a privilege to have been surrounded by such incredible and powerful women throughout my life. Each has left a lasting impact on me, shaping my journey in different ways. I’m immensely grateful for each one, and so many others, but a blog can only be so long! Let me share a few with you and tell you why each individual holds such significance for me.

Sharon MacLeod played a pivotal role in my early career, inspiring and mentoring me during a time when I struggled with imposter syndrome and self-doubt. Despite her remarkable achievements in building global brands and being recognized as one of WXN’s Most Powerful Women, Sharon generously gave me her time. In those moments, she was fully present, instilling in me a sense of worthiness and confidence. Sharon’s leadership style, characterized by a genuine and harmonious blend of strategy and empathy, profoundly influenced me and helped shape my own approach to leadership.

Jocelyn Brown, my sister and friend, embarked on her career in tech and has risen to be one of the foremost Customer Experience leaders in Canada. I’m continually awed and inspired by her unwavering strength, passion, intelligence, and perseverance. Joce also taught me the importance of self-care; taking time to unplug and recharge so you can be your best self, for you and your team. She influences me to work on maintaining balance and well-being, in the midst of professional demands.

I met Andrea Gillis in an arena as our two ‘lively’ kids bonded and became best friends. With a prominent role in the financial sector, recognized as a women leader in finance, you would assume Andrea is formal and perpetually poised. In fact, she is defined by joy, vibrancy, and a contagious sense of fun and laughter. She is true to herself, debunking stereotypes and misconceptions of women in leadership. Her influence empowers me to embrace my true self, without compromise and reaffirms that authenticity is key to genuine leadership.

Last but certainly not least, my greatest champion; my mom, Lorna Gonzalez. To me, she epitomizes strength and resilience, rooted in her prairie upbringing. Leading by example, she has never wavered in her determination, consistently demonstrating a strong work ethic and a steadfast focus on finding solutions. Her superpower undoubtedly lies in her empathy, a quality she instilled in me from a young age. Above all, she imparts the invaluable lesson that family (your people) and health are the cornerstones of a fulfilling life.

Stacey McIntyre

I have been in media forever. I started my career in the early ‘90s as a media assistant in Toronto at Initiative Media. I worked at some of the largest media agencies in the country – Initiative Media, OMD, and Starcom. In the early 2000, we relocated to Calgary where I worked at a couple of local agencies. I have worked on an incredible roster of clients, big and small, from General Motors to The Store Upstairs in Airdrie, a wonderful woman-owned business!

Women who have influenced me:

Many women have influenced me throughout my career, from approaching career decisions to interacting with people daily. Many knowledgeable and supportive women have guided me through my career. And, thankfully, only a couple have taught me how not to do things. When I think about positive influences throughout my career, four women immediately come to mind. Ann Bowden ran OMD back in the day. I wanted to be her when I grew up. Leslie Krueger taught me how to receive and give constructive feedback with empathy. Every day, Susan Murphy champions people-first and work-life balance at Vovia, and believes it. And Pamela Ross reminds me that I can do anything in my work and personal life. Without these intelligent, strong, and supportive women, there’s no telling where I would be today.

Renu Deswal

After completing my Bachelors in Pharmacy and MBA, I started my career in digital marketing with iProspect India as a search marketer in 2012. I worked on a number of national and international brands there, such as Citibank, Axis Bank, Koovs, Diamond Factory, etc. I worked there for 2 and a half years, after which I moved from India to Calgary and joined Vovia. I have been with Vovia for 9 years and during this time I have had the opportunity to work on various client portfolios, which has helped me grow as an expert in digital media.

Women who have influenced me:

Throughout my career, I’ve been privileged to collaborate with incredible female leaders who have been a profound source of inspiration and growth for me, shaping both my personal and professional journey. Even though I was not working directly under a female leader in my first company, I was working closely with a client, Krithika Sriram, on her e-commerce account. Krithika embodied a captivating blend of passion and determination, constantly pushing boundaries to achieve extraordinary results. Krithika’s intelligence and strategic thinking, combined with her vibrant personality, made working together both professionally rewarding and enjoyable. I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked with her during the early years of my career, as it was a period of immense learning and growth under her guidance. I worked with Ankita Pande, the Paid Media lead at Iprospect, and was inspired by her strong and bold decision-making. Her fearless approach and resolute personality made a lasting impact on me.

I am fortunate to collaborate with remarkable female leaders at Vovia: Susan, Tracy, and Stacey, each bringing extensive experience to the table. They continually inspire me, and I learn from them every single day. Susan is dedicated to our client work and all about driving results but she prioritizes the team’s well-being and creates a positive work environment that everyone values.
I’m truly inspired by Tracy’s strategic approach, exceptional communication skills, and genuine empathy for her team. As a supportive and uplifting leader, she consistently stands by her team. Stacey’s strong commitment and deep expertise are truly commendable. Her willingness to provide assistance and support to her team in every conceivable manner is a testament to her exceptional leadership qualities.
I am deeply thankful to have these incredible women in my life, and I owe so much of my success to each and every one of them. Without their support and guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and the power of inclusion, we’re inspired by the
journeys and perspectives of our female leaders at Vovia. Their stories serve as a testament to the collective strength and positive impact women can have in the advertising industry. Let’s continue to champion inclusion and empower women to lead the way.