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A select group of women leaders attended an intimate dinner on November 1 in Toronto to kick-off the Public-Private Partnerships (P3) conference this week.

The discussions around the big harvest table included recognizing and celebrating the talent and leadership of women in the industry, considering the continued minority status of women in the field and sharing lessons from the attendees’ personal experiences.

The event was organized by BTY, a leading cost and risk advisory firm in the Canadian P3 market, and INTECH Risk Management, the largest independent insurance advisor in the industry. The mix of attendees included P3 developers, lenders, construction companies, government agencies, law firms and consultancies.

INTECH’s President, Sarah Roberts, has worked in the industry for more than 15 years and finds that the number of women holding senior leadership positions has grown over time, but not nearly enough. She believes formal and informal mentorship goes a long way to enable seasoned leaders to share insights with up and coming professionals. “At a more intimate event – no name tags, no assigned seating – you can have some low-key networking and thoughtful discussions – as well as a some good laughs.”

BTY’s Director of P3 Advisory services, Marie Foley, said the idea for the event was to celebrate and recognize remarkable leaders in the industry. “At the senior level in the industry, we cross paths with amazingly talented and successful women who are leading their teams on some of Canada’s biggest projects.”

The dinner’s success has inspired the organizers to turn this into an annual event. Sarah and Marie agree an initiative like this would have been very useful when they first started in the industry.

Both INTECH and BTY are also promoting the profiles of the attendees within their networks and social channels.

BTY’s Director of Marketing, Saira Muzaffar, is keen to see the initiative grow in showcasing a diverse group of women leaders in the field. “We can see how other industry sectors, such as tech, are tackling changing the ratio in very deliberate ways. It’s time for the construction industry at large to very actively become vested in increasing opportunities for women and using their expertise to address barriers that prevent more women from joining the industry.”