Lindy Norris: An Empowering Passion
Lindy Norris [BComm(Hons)/09] is the founder and President of Athena Leadership, an interactive forum providing mentorship, leadership development, networking, and philanthropic opportunity to talented young women.
Norris launched the forum in 2011. Ultimately, Athena Leadership serves to foster advancement of women in leadership roles, including representation of women on boards (for which Manitoba falls below the national average).
“I’ve been fortunate to have mentors of my own to teach, advise, and challenge my perspective,” she explains. “It’s absolutely critical to invest in leadership development early on, to catalyze career growth and leadership capabilities – and wanted to bring those opportunities to other talented young women in our province.”
To date, Athena Leadership has connected over 40 young women with a truly impressive roster of mentors from a variety of industries, including former federal cabinet minister the Honourable Sharon Carstairs, United Way Winnipeg President Susan Lewis, and Norva Riddell, True North Sports and Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Thanks to an “outstanding and talented” Board of Directors and the enthusiastic support of the Manitoba business community, Athena Leadership continues to gain momentum. The organization has just awarded its first Athena Leadership Leader of Tomorrow Scholarship to one deserving young woman, exemplifying Athena’s values and making impact as a young leader.
“It’s incredibly humbling to know we can change the life of one person within one year of initiating the fund,” Norris says.
On top of her work as President of Athena Leadership, Norris personally mentored young entrepreneurs through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Not surprisingly, she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her commitment to empowering local entrepreneurs in business.
Norris says her passion for her philanthropic work stems directly from her sense of what truly makes a community thrive.
“Our collective strength drives all civic and economic endeavours,” she explains. “I’m fulfilled knowing I’ve done a small part in leading community development – more so because I’ve observed first-hand how giving back motivates others to do the same.”
She credits some of her success to experience as a student at the Asper School of Business. In fact, the School’s reputation for outstanding student achievement and community involvement were part of what drew her to enroll in the first place.
“The Asper School actively promotes charitable initiatives and encourages student involvement at the community level. It actively fosters an environment where the value of giving is near-equal to the value of education.”
Norris, who majored in Marketing, says the Asper School also provided countless opportunities inside and outside the classroom to develop vital real-world skills, business connections and leadership abilities.
“I participated in several student competitions, in both committee planning and competitor aspects. While I didn’t participate in new venture challenges, I wish I had and would strongly recommend it – I don’t know many faculties whose students make money during academic years! On top of that, Asper profs have a strong sense of ownership in delivering high-caliber education, and genuinely care about their students. Classes supported meaningful interaction, thinking outside the box, and learning far beyond the confines of lecture room walls.”
Norris’ experience at the Asper School has served her well not only in her philanthropic endeavours, but in other roles.
Marketing Magazine recently named her one of its “30 Under Thirty” brightest young stars in the Canadian marketing industry, while she was Director of Advertising for local home furnishing retailer The Dufresne Group.
In her current position as Vice President, Strategy & Business Development with Q Power Communications, she’s enjoying more opportunities to turn brilliant ideas into business growth. She is currently leading internal and external initiatives to facilitate next-generation expansion.
“Whether its people, projects, or business in general” she says, “what it all comes down to is – I love seeing an opportunity and making it happen.”