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It Takes Nerve

Dr. Indira V. Samarasekera
Dr. Indira V. Samarasekera

“What do you expect with a woman?”

That’s the attitude our guests encountered on their leadership journeys – but, as Georgia O’Keefe said, “It takes a kind of nerve…and a lot of hard, hard work.” That nerve is exactly what Martha Piper and Indira Samarasekera developed. It served them well, with both becoming the first woman president of their respective universities.

In this episode, they share tips to help other women (and men!) develop the same combination of nerve, grit, and grace that made their time as leaders so successful.

Dr. Martha Cook Piper was the Interim President and Vice Chancellor of The University of British Columbia from 2015-2016. She also served as the 11th President of the University of British Columbia from 1997 to 2006. Dr. Piper has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Montreal, Shoppers Drug Mart, TransAlta Corporation and Grosvenor Americas Ltd. She has also served as a board member of CARE Canada, the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, and the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. She was Chair of the Board of the National Institute of Nanotechnology and served as a member of the Trilateral Commission. The recipient of 17 honorary degrees, Dr. Piper is an officer in the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of British Columbia.

Dr. Indira V. Samarasekera was the 12th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta from 2005-2015. Dr. Samarasekera is internationally recognized as one of Canada's leading metallurgical engineers for her groundbreaking work on process engineering of materials. She has consulted for industry worldwide, which has adopted the results of her research discoveries. She was vice-president (research) at the University of British Columbia and held the Dofasco Chair in Advanced Steel Processing. She is the first woman and the first engineer to serve as U of A president. Dr. Samarasekera is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum.