Dynamic. Diverse. Inspiring. Empowered. These are just a few ways to describe our remarkable city of Toronto. These are also the themes we weave through the Toronto Chapter of Lean In Canada. Our programs are rooted in thoughtful consideration of Lean In’s purpose, as well as the unique needs of women in Toronto. We strive to provide collaborative, engaging, and empowering programming. We focus on tools, resources, and sense of community that supports the fulfillment of career goals for the women of our city. Our volunteer executives and their teams are some of the most dedicated women around, and they infuse their passion into everything they do with and for Lean In Canada-Toronto. So, Toronto, join us as we build a world where people of every gender can pursue their dreams without bias or other barriers holding them back.
"Lean In Canada has provided me with an amazing opportunity to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences in a great venue."
- Ami Patel
Niala has over 8 years of progressive retail experience, predominantly at Walmart and prior to that Sears. She has held omni-channel roles in category management and has managed the launch of new private label items from concept to shelf.
Wanting to find a solution in which retailers can seamlessly bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar and digital shopping sent her back to school. She recently graduated with her MBA from Ivey Business School where she received certification in Entrepreneurship as well. She also discovered her passion for technology and is excited to contribute to its growth and expansion as it continues to revolutionize the way we live, work and play.
Niala has always been a huge advocate for diversity, inclusion and the advancement of women, not just in the workplace but life in general. She believes everyone should discover, accept, and lean fully into their happiness.
Outside of her professional life, she loves to be active outdoors whether that is hiking, beaching, playing sports of any kind or simply sitting on a patio!
She is excited to meet and connect with each of you and hopes to propel each member forward.
An exceptional experience is Sharda’s primary focus on every event that she is involved with, no matter the size or scope. The experiences she crafts aren’t only attendee centric, they also take into account client and supplier-partner interactions.
Sharda has been in the meetings and events industry for over eighteen years, including eleven years at a global event agency. This gave her a solid foundation and allowed her to perfect a framework that she applies to all aspects of her events.
In 2014 Sharda took the leap, launching her own events planning company, Eventures, and has never looked back. Currently, as a freelance leader in the meetings and events industry, Sharda effortlessly integrates herself into any project team. Valued for her expertise, calm demeanour and her French-speaking skills, Sharda delivers events that consistently exceed expectations for both her clients and their attendees. The sectors Sharda has worked with include: automotive, insurance, financial, technology, interior design and not-for-profit.
A graduate of Glendon College, York University’s bilingual campus, and George Brown’s Meeting and Event Management program, Sharda advanced her academic pursuits by obtaining her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation. She continues to be an active participant in industry associations and events and is well regarded by her peers.
In her spare time, Sharda loves to explore the world and often can be found planning her next adventure.
Melana Haile is a Digital Marketing Manager at RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), one of Canada's largest financial institutions. Prior to working at RBC, she was part of the Digital Marketing team at Ryerson University - specifically with the business school (Ted Rogers School of Management). She has a passion for digital strategy, analytics, data analysis and optimization. Melana has a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Management from Ryerson University with a focus in Marketing and Communications.
Belinda is the founder and CEO of Salesfluence Consulting. A firm focused on helping business owners and companies establish their personal brands online for thought leadership positioning and business lead generation. With more than 10 years of executive sales experience, Belinda is considered an expert in leveraging LinkedIn for thought leadership development and has proven that tapping into and sharing ones' vast professional experiences on the platform effectively generates industry respect and drives revenue.
She's since developed the Salesfluence™ Method to develop a strong personal brand (on LinkedIn) specifically for Thought Leadership Development & lead generation.
Niki started volunteering with Lean In Canada in January 2018 as Sponsorship Table Manager. In June 2018, Niki took on the role of Toronto Regional Sponsorship Manager where she oversaw all sponsorships related to in-kind donations, auctions, and event tables. Niki graduated from Ivey Business School with a general business degree and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship. Following graduation, Niki became a Venture for Canada fellow, a 2-year fellowship to introduce new graduates to the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Niki is passionate about women's empowerment and giving back to her community.
Shamena Maharaj is an award-winning Human Resources and Organizational Development Professional, Education Scholar, Author, Philanthropist, SheEO Activator and a LeanIn Circle Leader.
Shamena is the author of two books Becoming my best self: my shero attributes and Joy, Happiness and Mindfulness
My purpose in life: My purpose is to focus on what matters so that I live with greater purpose, catalyze growth in others so that we build a better world together, elevate the contributions of others so that we flourish and celebrate our collective efforts and learn to listen and collaborate for innovation.
Shamena volunteers her time and resources to help enrich girls and women lives here at home and across the globe. She is the founder of the UNHCR Leadership Program, a supporter of the OneWoman One Girl initiative and is a SheEO Activator. She is passionate about creating a better world together where every person can be lifted up and be on their path to embracing and living their best life.
Chidimma Eghagha is an experienced senior accounting and finance professional, with experience across 2 continents. She started her career as an audit associate and over 20 years, has held a variety of progressively senior roles in various organizations within the financial services industry. She is highly skilled at leading high impact teams, process improvements and strategic operations management to drive cost efficiencies. She is a technology enthusiast with proven track record in managing implementation of various large multi-functional projects and solutions.
In her current role, she is responsible for standing the Finance Data Management Office (FDMO) for the Royal Bank of Canada.
She is passionate advocate for women and children and actively volunteers on various Not-for-profits organizations, helping them become their best self. She uses her love for storytelling as a tool to drive change by challenging stereotypes, sharing different perspectives and inviting her readers to see the world through different lenses.
Proud mum to 3 amazing, energetic boys and married to her best cheerleader, she spends most of her free time hanging out with her family. Music and dance is a big part of their life and a goofy road-side ‘boogie-down’ is usually featured during family walks and bike rides. Together with her husband, she actively invests in setting the right examples, support structure and environment for her children to thrive and succeed at their aspirations. She is keenly involved in her children’s school council and can be seen leading family oriented events like spring fun fairs, movie nights and holiday stores.
A seasoned marketing executive, Jo has stewarded world-class brands, both sides of the Atlantic, touching household names like BMW, AMERICAN EXPRESS, BAYER, SHAW, PARMALAT, GE, UNITED WAY, AUDI, HARLEY-DAVIDSON and GENESIS. She joined LEAN IN CANADA energized to give back and actively share a career-long passion for mentoring - as Sheryl Sandberg said: “if you take action you can make things better.” Jo is an avid skier, sailor, weekend motorcycle rider and mother to a young boy she aspires to raise in a more equalitarian world.
Swapna is a Product Lead at Royal Bank of Canada, leading fintech innovation and R&D efforts in digital payments, cards and emerging technologies. Prior to this role, she led experiences and products in the financial planning & investments space.
Prior to RBC, Swapna was the Head of Product at a UK-based SaaS Data intelligence company, Klood, that provided insights to enterprise clients through artificial intelligence.
She started her career with Accenture, and is a technology buff. Her current passion is identifying innovative usecases for digital identity and AI in the fintech/banking domain.
Nima is a Human Resources professional at TD Bank with a number of years of experience in Recruitment, Compensation and Employee Engagement. She acts as a diversity advocate in the Greater Toronto Area by hosting workshops and acting as a mentor to help Women and Visible Minority find their next opportunity. Nima has completed a Bachelor of Commerce with a focus in Human Resources and is currently pursuing her MBA in Innovation and Technology at Ryerson University.
Tayyaba Sakhi is a Human Resources professional at CIBC Mellon and has previous experience in compensation, recruitment and training. Prior to her professional experience she completed a Masters degree in Industrial Relations and Human Resources from University of Toronto and a Bachelors degree in Commerce from Ryerson University. She has a passion for teaching and cares about providing equitable opportunities and resources for people in both her personal and professional life.
Kayla is a values-driven and organized self-starter working in the financial services industry. After graduating from the Richard Ivey School of Business, she joined TD Bank’s Canadian Personal Banking department where she has held a number of roles across product management, strategy, and digital transformation. She has a passion for leading teams and working on transformative projects where her contributions have a positive impact on the customer and employee experience.
Ever since joining TD, Kayla has volunteered her time on the Women in Leadership committee, helping to deliver multiple events and initiatives for employees with the goal of empowering women in the workplace, drawing attention to bias, building allyship and improving the representation of women at Executive levels in the Bank. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the Lean In Canada team!
Outside of work, Kayla loves to stay active with running, swimming, cycling, hiking and has recently taken up paddle boarding. She is also an avid traveller (39 countries and counting) and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Kiki is an International Commercial Lawyer with diverse experience gathered by schooling and working across three continents. She has advised on a broad range of subjects. Kiki moved to Canada to pursue an International MBA from the Schulich School of Business where she was, and remains an active member of the community. While at Schulich she received the award for “Diversity, Belonging, and Inclusion”. This award was given in recognition of her work towards fostering an environment of acceptance by creating a safe, welcoming, and nurturing space within the school. After Business school, she joined the Wealth Management Generalist Program at RBC.
Kiki is passionate about female empowerment and gender equity; and has been a strong advocate for women throughout her career. During her MBA she got involved with the Forte Foundation and was a campus ambassador and speaker at the 2019 Forte Women Leadership Conference in Chicago. She continues to mentor women as it is her belief that “women supporting women is the only way we can achieve success on our own terms”. Kiki is an avid traveller and lover of multinational cuisine. If you do not find her seeking out all the women at events, she will be somewhere buried within the pages of a good book.
Torey is an experienced people leader across the management consulting, retail and telecommunications industries. After graduating from the Richard Ivey School of Business, she joined Accenture's retail strategy practice and gained international experience working with clients from general merchandising to grocery. She has a passion for leading teams and enacting change transformation in her roles. Following her time at Accenture and Target Canada, she joined TELUS and is currently the Director of Campaign Management and Data Science, leading machine learning transformation and one to one customer communications teams.
Creating a culture that supports, progresses and empowers women in the workplace is a top priority for her and she is so excited to be a part of the Lean In Canada team for the incredible city of Toronto.
Outside of her professional life, you can find her up North on the weekends at her cottage enjoying the great outdoors!
Karen worked many years in commissioned sales in the tech sector, her current role is championing women into management roles in the banking sector. She understands the challenges of working Moms having been a single parent of 2 then 4 as a blended family. When her kids started heading off to university she reinvented herself as KarenGeterdone and started climbing mountains, marathoning and cycling. Karen is a fundraiser, cancer survivor, published author, partner, advocate and positive lifer along with being awarded Canada's #1 recruiter in 2019. There are no limits and Karen's goal as our new Toronto Chapter President is to instill confidence and have women recognize their true limitless potential.