Spotlight Member Rose (Marie) Gage

Rose (Marie) Gage

ARIO/ CO2 GRO/ HEXO, MPOWRU & Great Governance Matters

Rose is an Independent Board Director (ID), Founder, Advisor, Coach and Mentor. She is Vice-Chair, ARIO; Chair, ESG and Compensation-CO2-GRO Inc.; ID, Vice-Chair, and ESG Chair-HEXO Corp. She’s former Chair, People and Sustainability-Link Energy; Chair–OAFT; ID-Hadrian Inc.; Governance Chair– UOHIF; Chair-ATCC; Chair-Guelph Energy Co-op, Treasurer and ID-FV Tel Co-op; and Vice-Chair WILF. She also serves as UWN’s Advisory Chair and Co-Chair, Alliance EDI Working Group.
As Founder of Great Governance Matters and MPOWRUTM, she empowers SMEs through connection and resourcing of great minds while facilitating change companies need, especially with Environmental, Social and Governance. She’s an advocate of people, the planet and prosperity.

She works to collaboratively with clients, peers, and stakeholders to make the impossible, possible. She led GE’s participation at 2010 Winter Olympics, ran P3s and best practice sharing with some of Canada’s largest businesses.
In her non-Board career: she’s the former CEO of Ag Energy, former CMO Schneider Electric Canada and GE Capital Canada–CDF. She’s worked with most NA industries, led P3 projects and GE’s 2010 Olympics infrastructure and media efforts.
She empowers a sustainable world through innovation, commercialization, and collaboration for long-term viability and value creation.

Rose is the recipient of UWN’s 2021 WOI–Integrity Award, Director’s College Outstanding Governance Achievement, CBDC’s Diversity 50, a Guelph Inspiring Women and an Inspiring 50 Canada (Women in STEM). She’s accredited with Directors’ College C.Dir. and Competent Board’s ESG.D. and is an alumna of Directors’ College, NACD, Competent Boards, Harvard, Rotman’s, and McMaster.

What is your definition of a Woman of Inspiration?

A “Woman of Inspiration” is a beacon of hope, a resonating, courageous voice. She empowers your best self and asks: “why not?”.

She breaks down barriers, breaks the glass ceiling and helps find missing steps along your journey. She teaches, mentors and challenges preconceived notions.

She will illuminate your strengths and help you on your unique journey. She is accomplished, communicative, wishing all to be successful in their own way.

Everyone woman has a story. Why did you start your business or choose your career path?

My career path has honoured my passions and myself. In university, I studied accounting and strategy. In my final semester I realized that I didn’t want to be a CPA and pivoted to joining Westinghouse as a graduate trainee learning about its business and its many intricacies. I had opportunities presented to me because of my resilience, passion, and commitment. I was committed to my career and people believed in me to get things done. Once I delivered, often I was given other opportunities. When something interesting came up, I raised my hand, and often I was chosen. When I got bored or felt a change was needed, and I changed things - sometimes quickly and other times slowly. When I didn’t fit, either the company or I made a change. Yes, I have been “eliminated” (once) and it was such a relief to no longer be the square peg in a round hole.
As I focused on my needs and fit to organizations and culture, things really started to click. I am where I am because I have played in lots of sand boxes and can work with many people to create great environments or to fix broken ones. My ambition to work with awesome people has led me to my current scenario of being an advisor and serving as an independent board member. I love it and want to keep doing more.

When you were growing up, who were the female role models you look up to?

My Mother provided me with unwavering support and love. She was a model of love, resilience, caring, compassion, and that striving to be the best version of oneself is our true purpose.

My Mother-in-Law, who models a positive attitude and growing with grace is the way to be in our elder years.

My best friend Theresa, whose unwavering commitment, finding laughter even in challenging times, breaking down the barriers in stereotypical male roles and proving she can do it, and being true to herself makes an impact to everyone she touches.

My dear friend Elfreda Pretorius, who models grace, kindness, resilience, growth, and evolution. She reminded me that I am perfect the way I am and that only others who see me perfect for them were worthy of my time and attention.
Oprah Winfrey for her courage in not accepting status quo and re-writing the future as she knew it could be. Despite all odds, she developed in unpredictable ways, contributed to humanity especially for women’s rights, education for all and a better world, created businesses and has reached the unreachable.

Lastly, Mother Theresa has modelled that we can all provide kindness and compassion, no matter the resources. She has proven that a big heart can improve humanity and garner support regardless of faith, gender, or occupation.

What is the best advice you were ever given?

The best advice was to be myself and honour my natural talents.

What is the worst advice you were even given?

To be like other people or to modify my natural tendencies (such as being a strong communicator to being more silent/less communicative, being feminine to being more masculine or caring to not caring). Our natural qualities are great when applied proactively. Why should we change to be more like someone else? Usually when that happens, it is an exceptionally strong sign to exit and find a scenario / organization / relationship that sees you in a positive light. Learning and developing your talents is positive. Abandoning your personality or natural character is not.

This is the decade for women to drive change. Why is now so important to empower women to be seen, heard and valued?

Women hold vital roles in society. We have power over our bodies, thoughts and lives. We have ideas, passion, purpose. We influence by our roles and change generations when valued and heard. We observe, we remember, share stories so that the lessons learned continue. We are caregivers, teachers and hold the most important life roles. As consumers, we wield significant influence. Women are the foundation of humanity. We MUST be seen, heard and valued!

North America, the richest continent of the world, has experienced a rise in hostility towards females, towards our civil liberties, equality and safety. With the pandemic we have had to make tough choices for the benefit of our families, many opting to take lesser roles or leave the workplace. We must continue our fundamental roles and rise to whatever roles and opportunities presented. We are vital to humanity so we need to drive and embrace positive change.

Your win is our win. What achievement are you most proud of?

I've had many doors and windows of opportunity open and walked through them. Recognizing that, the achievement I am most proud of is of the depth of relationships with "my people". My people seems like a wide definition, but really it isn't. It is about the meaningful touch points, connections, sharing, caring, and making things happen together. Whether it is my husband, family, dear friends, colleagues, partners, etc., those relationships count and they fuel my life in manners that create positive energy, opportunity, love, joy, memories and success.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

I want to continue my board and advisory work while making a real dent in proactive change with Environmental, Social and Governance adoption. I’d love to be the change agent to empower organizations, whether for profit, not for profit or public, to ensure that the change is permanent and makes a huge impact on society (employees, consumers, communities), the planet and for prosperity. Alongside that, I want to ensure I am a good role model and mentor while also being present for those I love. Kind of simple, right?

A daily non-negotiable for me is....

Time to decompress. I need daily time to breathe and make the distinction between my work and my loved ones. I need to carve out that time so that I can give my all to those I love, me and also be productive. Without making that time, I become frazzled or tired.

I cannot live without my....

"People". Those who are close to me, I cannot live without. Life would be meaningless without them.

Outside of work, I love to....

... explore, hike, cook, garden, paint, read, learn and so much more. I also love spending time with "my people".

My power song is.....

Born this way. Lady Gaga

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