Are you a female entrepreneur who wants to build a community so you can grow your confidence, realize your true power and be authentic? 

Then you are going to get a lot out of episode #150 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. 

That’s because we are interviewing Marcela Mandeville, the CEO of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE). AWE is dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs succeed in a variety of ways, and Marcela is their passionate leader who has the experience and passion to help this organization thrive.

In this episode you learn:

• How AWE helps successfully guides female entrepreneurs through all stages of their business from start up to exit

• How AWE provides community to help women grow their confidence, leadership skills and a whole variety of support

• About Marcela’s personal passion for helping women entrepreneurs to succeed and more

Marcela Mandeville

Marcela Mandeville - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

Marcela Mandeville, MBA, CITP CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

Marcela has explored the world of business through a globally focused business undergraduate degree, designation as a Certified International Trade Professional and more than twenty years of global experience developing and implementing business strategies. A career highlight has been taking on leadership roles at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) to support AWE’s goal to build stronger communities and economies through women’s participation in entrepreneurship.

Marcela believes strongly in continuous learning and contributing to the community.  She serves on Edmonton Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, University of Alberta Professional Development for Graduate Students Advisory Board, and the Edmonton Region Innovation Network Steering Committee. In addition, Marcela is Vice-Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada and Edmonton Regional Ambassador for the UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization. She has also served on the AIESEC Edmonton Advisory Board, and the Youth Empowerment Services Society and Alberta Innovates Board of Directors. 

You can get in touch with Marcela at

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Gordon Sheppard: Are you a leader who wants to build a community, learn how to trust yourself, learn how to really be authentic and find your power and a whole lot more? Well, then you’re going to get a lot out of today’s episode on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. That’s because we’re interviewing CEO Marcela Mandeville from the Alberta Women Entrepreneurs.

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for practical tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard, and I just want to say thank you for being here. 1-5-0, 150 episodes. I mean, this is a massive milestone. The audience that has been cheerleading this podcast along all the way, I just really appreciate that you’ve been here. That you’re agreeing with the philosophy that if you want to build your leadership skills, you have to know how to run a great meeting. And if you want to know how to run a great meeting, you have to build your leadership skills and you’re coming to this podcast to get the inspiration, the great interviews, the tips, the tricks, the strategies to learn how to do just that 150 times. Thank you. I am also really proud to say that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy.

Now, what’s happening through there specifically? Well, there are teams coming and getting the live training that’s offered there, half-day workshop coming on in to work with you and your team and really give you the spark that you need to improve your meetings, grow your confidence, and then go forward and connect every meeting directly to your strategy. Because you know when you do that, there’s a chance that that one meeting that you have, the next series of meetings that you have will actually not only impact you and your team in a positive way, but actually have an impact on your entire organization. And when you do that, you actually flow through an influence in a positive way, the results that you’re going to get with your customers and your community. And I really recommend that you check it all out by going to

And now I am really excited to introduce today’s show. It’s titled, How Alberta Women Entrepreneurs Develops Leaders, and that’s with Marcela Mandeville. Now, not only is Marcella the CEO of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, she also has 20 years of global experience and that’s in sort of implementing business strategies at the local levels, at the global levels. She’s thrown in of course, a certified international trade professional designation, an MBA, and she has a really well-rounded approach and a super passion for helping women to succeed. And on top of all of that, Marcela also believes in giving back to the community. She’s served on multiple boards including the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, and she is the Vice Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada, and the Edmonton Regional Ambassador for the UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization.

With that in mind and a great story that Marcela tells towards the end of this interview about how her own parents have inspired her and how they are going to inspire you as well, here’s the fantastic interview with Marcela.

Marcela, welcome to the show.

Marcela Mandeville: Thank you for having me.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, thanks for being on because I know that what we’re about to do in the next 30 minutes, at least, is going to be transformative for all the people that are seeking leadership suggestions and inspiration. It’s just going to be outstanding. Now I know you as the leader at AWE, which is Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, but a lot of people don’t know who you are. So take a moment to introduce yourself.

Marcela Mandeville: Sure. Well, I am originally from Yellowknife. That’s where I was born. My father is from the Northwest Territories and my mother is from Mexico City. So two very different places that they come from. And through a few different years in my early childhood we moved to a few different places, but ended up in Beaumont, which is a small, or at the time was a small Francophone farming community, just outside of Edmonton. Has now grown into a vibrant city of its own.

When I was growing up, I was very interested in business and entrepreneurship, had my own snoopy snow cones stand, cleaned lockers, cleaned binders, had a private investigation business to find lost items so other kids wouldn’t get in trouble. I didn’t know it was called entrepreneurship at the time, but I always really loved it. And in my university life I chose to pursue international business. I really thought I could combine my love of business and my love of the world and international places into something exciting for a career. And at the time I really didn’t realize that entrepreneurship was an option that I could have my own business. And so I went the corporate route for a short time after I graduated and felt it just wasn’t for me. So I was offered an opportunity to work with an entrepreneur hand-in-hand, side-by-side… Not really hand-in-hand, but side-by-side to build a really interesting business that was doing international projects. And I worked in that entrepreneurship and help build that business for about 12 years before going out on my own into business.

And so what I realized now, I wish I knew then when I know now that it really takes a community of support and that’s how I ended up at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs. I didn’t know it existed when I had my business. I wish I had, I could have really used the support in the community. That’s how I ended up at AWE. I’d lived the life of entrepreneurship. I really wanted to work helping women expand their market reach to build successful businesses. And I would say that other than being an entrepreneur and running my own business, this is the next best.

Gordon Sheppard: Holy moly, I can really hear the honest passion that you have for entrepreneurship and it sounds like you’re in the perfect kind of, I’m going to say, mentorship leadership situation to allow your own experience to come forward. I didn’t actually know we had a private investigator here on the show, but this is actually really good to know. So I really appreciate going back. Funny, I wish we were here for a long time because I’d go back and say that dinner table with your parents must’ve been out… Like your palette would be so expanded all the way from expanding that whole thing, but that’s not what we’re here for exactly. Maybe on another episode.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, I was hitting the website there and there’s a great statement right there, bold and it’s on the front page. It says, “We believe our economies and communities are stronger when women are full participants in entrepreneurship.” So taking the theme of that, take a moment here for people who don’t know what Alberta Women Entrepreneurs is that you’re leading, and then take us into the spirit of what that statement means.

Marcela Mandeville: Right. Well, that really is the heart of who we are and why we do what we do. We are a small but mighty team and as an organization we’re not-for-profit. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. So we’ve been evolving and growing with women entrepreneurs across the province for the past 25 years, since 1995. So it’s actually been a really interesting journey to see the entrepreneurs that we work with move through the different stages of business to work with entrepreneurs all the way from the idea stage, all the way… There’s businesses that we work with, who are exiting or doing succession planning. So all of those different stages of business, all industries and sectors. The only piece that is consistent I would say is that we are working with women, so it’s very diverse in the types of businesses we work with.

We offer financing up to $150,000. We have our own loan fund that we manage. Western Economic Diversification provided us with $5 million just over 20 years ago and we’ve been revolving that fund. So when we lend to entrepreneurs and they pay us back, we lend out again to other entrepreneurs. It’s a revolving cycle of giving into the entrepreneurship community.

And then we also have free advising. We have workshops, we have an annual conference where we try to bring some of the best learning we can to entrepreneurs in a place where they can network and connect. And we also have our awards where we really celebrate those contributions where we talk about that contributions to the economy and our communities that women entrepreneurs are making.

Gordon Sheppard: Wow. The theme that I’m hearing underneath it, not only from yourself but from the AWE organization is pay it forward. I love that you’ve said we’ve re circulated these dollars out successfully through all of the good sort of, again, community that you’re surrounding women entrepreneurs with. And again, we could go on and on just about AWE alone, but I think that was a really good description of all the different options. And of course, we’re going to have a connection to your website here in the show notes so that people can definitely reach out and learn about all the great programming that you are doing and the things that you offer for entrepreneurs.

But you’ve touched on the fact that you’re specializing in helping women. And I always say from my perspective, I wish we were in a Star Trek episode and it was 500 years from now and we didn’t have this male female thing. And we were really just talking about leadership and entrepreneurship, but that’s not the reality. So when you are helping women leaders in their small business scenarios, what sort of the leadership pieces that you’re bringing forward to empower them as leaders through the work that you do?

Marcela Mandeville: Well, one of the key things that we do is we bring them together. So we create a place for that community to build leadership skills and confidence from each other. We all have such varied experiences. And so when we sit around a table, it’s not necessarily about AWE teaching something. We’re really conveners of those skills and that talent and all that experience that women entrepreneurs have and want to share with each other to help each other through some challenging times or through some of the barriers that they’re facing. And quite often, having that community of support, people who really understand the experiences that you’re having, your peers can make all the difference.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and so often leaders get isolated and you said you’re providing this place. But there’s a moment where I’m a female leader, I’ve reached out, and I’m going to sort of have a moment where I come to you and then I go through your process. You said again, you follow them. Without naming names, is there sort of a case study or an example of someone who showed up, they needed what you were offering and then they went through your process and succeeded?

Marcela Mandeville: Absolutely. I’m going to pick a hypothetical name. I’ll pick the name Grace. It’s actually my mom’s English name, but I do love that name. So let’s say hypothetically Grace has gone through one of our peer programs and for example, our pure spark program, and has worked in a very male-dominated space. It could also be somebody who has gone through our next step program or digitally solid program, but they’ve gone through a program where they have a cohort of peers that they’ve been working with on building plans for their business. And so part of those plans may include or did include in this case, international expansion and participating in international markets, which we strongly encourage all the businesses we work with to look at as an opportunity.

And so this individual, Grace, decided to start to really pursue some markets and decided to participate in a trade mission. And a trade mission is an outgoing market visit that’s organized either by an industry group or by the government, and quite often can be industry or sector-focused or it could be around a particular event. In this case it was industry and sector-focused. And of course being that it was quite a male-dominated industry, when Grace went on the trade mission, she was the only woman on the trade mission.

And so two or three years ago before becoming a part of AWE’s program, and not to say it’s only about AWE, there was a bunch of other supports that surrounded her and we often refer to other partners to help our entrepreneurs continue to grow and develop. But she had the confidence and it didn’t faze her at all to be on a completely, a plane filled with men, meetings filled with men. Being the only woman in the room did not matter. She knew the strength of her leadership and knew she knew the strength of her business and actually that diverse perspective that she brought was very carefully listened to and it became an advantage for her. She did end up winning business from that experience.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and it became an advantage, right? This internal voice that I’m going to say all entrepreneurs have to face, but in this case we’re again dealing with women entrepreneurs. What are some of the specifics of that transformation? When you hear sort of her before and after story, did she ever talk about that inner voice or breaking down how that confidence was gained?

Marcela Mandeville: Yeah, and actually Grace is probably the merging of a few different people. I’m not talking just about one experience, actually it’s several of the same experience. But part of it was almost as though there’s a light bulb moment where there was a realization of how powerful they are in their business and how much they bring as a leader and how valuable their own perspective is and their own experience. So this could apply to both male and female. Of course, we’re working specifically with women, but we do see that moment when someone else has said, “You’re incredible. You’re doing incredible things in your business. You’re moving into uncharted waters.” And something to really be proud of because I think a lot of people, leaders, entrepreneurs in particular are often looking ahead and not really celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of what they’re doing.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, I couldn’t agree more. I know when I am teaching in my own workshops and I take into that moment where I’ll say, “Hey, how do you celebrate?” And people seem to have 95% of their energy ready to go and complain about problems, but they have very little energy to put into that area. So the fact that you are creating a place where people are seen and recognized for their skill sets, for their sort of center of genius in a sense and able to bring that out, you must have a great time going to work every day.

Marcela Mandeville: I do. Like I said, this is a dream job. This is a dream organization. And really part of it too is seeing that journey. And sometimes it’s pretty incredible to see the transformation, especially through the business growth and achieving these successes and having people to with who are along the journey to support you as the entrepreneur. And so I think that that’s really an important piece of what we offer. And also we do also ask some hard questions and we do push a little bit so that… And even myself, I know how I’ve grown is to be pushed, not necessarily aggressively but to be asked some questions and to really focus on evolving my own skills and my own confidence.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and that’s interesting that you brought that up about yourself because what I was going to say is if you had a personal leadership tip, what would your sort of number one thing that you would be saying to that person who just walks through your AWE doors from your own perspective?

Marcela Mandeville: There’s so many things, but I think the number one thing is to trust yourself, to be yourself. That always shines through. I think that if you’re not being authentic, it really undermines your ability to do well, to be a good leader or to be a good person. And I really think that who you are, trust who you are. And that’s what I’ve tried to do to carry myself through. I respect that I’m unique as an individual and I respect where I come from and the diversity that I bring.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and again, I’m going to just say the tone of what you’re saying is speaking almost louder than your words. I can hear that gained set of confidence and skills that you’re bringing forward. The other piece that we like to get into in these interviews to help leaders is if you’re going to be a leader, you’ve got to be able to run a meeting. If you want to run a great meeting, you better be up in your leadership game essentially. And you would run a few meetings. Is that fair along your journey?

Marcela Mandeville: Absolutely. And what an evolution that’s been. I look back at some of the meetings I ran early in my career and they were really something else. What I’ve learned is preparation is key, organization is key. I’m a person that in my mind, time is our most precious thing. And so when I’m running a meeting or leading a meeting, I really try to be aware of that and respectful of that. And so I think there’s great time for getting to know each other and comradery and there’s time for asking questions and looking at different possible solutions and there’s time to make decisions. And so I think all of those things need to be woven carefully into planning a meeting and executing a meeting and making sure that there’s diversity represented, that the meeting is inclusive, and that the proper time is allotted to all those different things.

Gordon Sheppard: There’s two things I have to pick up on. I can’t let you off the hook there for that early career story for just a second. And I can tell you my own disasters in terms of where I was and where I’ve gotten to from that perspective. Can you give us an example of maybe something you did a long time ago that you were able to kind of course-correct through your own self-awareness and growth?

Marcela Mandeville: Absolutely. I learned early on that there are very different personalities that are going to appear around the meeting table. And sometimes people appear quite different in meetings than they do in day-to-day interaction.

Gordon Sheppard: Great point. Yeah.

Marcela Mandeville: And so early on in my career, I became part of a team and I was very new. I was very young and I was leading a specific portion of the meeting and there were a few individuals that I believe didn’t appreciate that I had been chosen to lead this part of the meeting. And were really being aggressive and really trying to take over the agenda and really obviously trying to undermine my leadership of the meeting. And so I did find a way to very nicely, using my own personality, to start to move the conversation in a different direction and be able to bring in other voices around the table to be able to quiet those aggressive voices that were undermining where we were going. So essentially, I completely pivoted in the meeting, moved to a completely different part of the agenda where there were other people with different energy that were going to participate.

Gordon Sheppard: Wow. That is okay. This is Olympic level athletes stuff that you just talked about. This is not high school or university council. What you just said and I love the mechanics of this and I’ll just break down that moment. You said that you had the awareness, you were aware of the situation that was happening personality wise, you called it a pivot, but you were able to then to move to another part of the agenda. That is actually super useful that you were able to on the fly in a sense almost improvise a moment where you could get it to another part because you knew it was going to feed some other people to change the energy in a given situation.

Marcela Mandeville: Yeah. I had never done that before and I had been very rules driven in what I had known about meetings. You follow the agenda, you don’t move around in the agenda, you need to stay on that particular course. And so it felt like a little bit of a leap to me at the time to do that, but I felt like that was the only way to get the meeting back under control. It was either that or call it quits on the meeting.

Gordon Sheppard: Yeah. Or call it quits, and yet here you’ve given this moment. I think that type of insight… If you guys are doing that over and over again, I mean, we can’t talk obviously about the scope of what AWE is doing and what you’re doing to influence entrepreneurs. That type of insight, that’s so practical. It means like, hey, when you go to your next meeting, you have the option to move things around and you create a permission for someone who hasn’t tried it to actually try out that technique. And the techniques don’t always work in the thing, but that’s a real sort of real world piece of advice that makes a ton of sense.

The other piece that you said that you felt was important was diversity and I cannot agree enough. I know that Deborah Rosati from a nonprofit called Women Get On Board is going to be coming on the show in future episodes. She’s beating the drum but the fact that 18% of boards across, I’m going to say North America, are women. Made up of women. So obviously just let’s take it from a population thing alone. We know that’s not where it should be. Now you are actually being very conscientious about diversity. I’m going to suggest that it’s beyond genders when you’re talking about diversity. Fair enough?

Marcela Mandeville: Absolutely. I really think it’s good to have all kinds of different perspective. It’s not just diversity of gender or of race or of religion, it’s also opinions and perspectives.

Gordon Sheppard: And when you bring those things consciously into a meeting, as a leader, what are the results?

Marcela Mandeville: I think sometimes it can be challenging because it’s not everybody’s nodding and saying yes and going along in a certain direction. It could be disruptive in a good way, but I do think that there is an opportunity to move potentially in some new creative, interesting directions that include more people that would resonate with other people. And so even when we look at having different racial diversity, that makes a huge difference. There’s all these layers intersecting, layers of experiences and perspectives. And somebody like myself who is the daughter of an immigrant, has a different experience than my mom, for example, who is an immigrant, but we are both women of color. And so I think that those are really important things to consider when and at which meeting, and where should we be including these different perspectives? I really think that that’s a valuable place to look at. It can’t just be everyone who looks like me and thinks like me because we’re not going to make progress that way.

Gordon Sheppard: Wow. I mean, just rewind the last minute alone and take that out to the world for all the listeners that are here. There’s a company that I admire based out of the States. I think they’re international. When they do product development, they don’t just send the product engineers in. They bring in a mom and a dad and a kid and all the different perspectives they can bring in so that they know when they go to do their work, they’ve covered off as much as they can. It sounds like a great approach in terms of what you’re doing. Again, I wish we could talk on and on, but the third part of these interviews that we always like to get to when we’ve got leaders like yourself on the show, it’s a very simple question and it starts like this. What inspires you?

Marcela Mandeville: Innovation, creativity, and that applies to so many things. I think we often try to segment that or box it into particular place, but I just think how a person lives your life is you can have all of those things in your world. So personally, my family inspires me. My parents are always an inspiration for me. They’re true in my heart, I feel entrepreneurs, even though they probably wouldn’t say that they are. But I think that that creativity and that innovation in particular, seeing that in entrepreneurs is the passion that I have or AWE in the work that we do and the community that we’re a part of.

Gordon Sheppard: I love that you mentioned your parents. What sort of a moment where they’ve demonstrated creativity or innovation in your opinion that would substantiate what you’re saying?

Marcela Mandeville: I think most of my life, it’s very interesting. My father’s an engineer, my mother is an accountant, but the fact that my mom came to Canada and entered this brand new life and really gave up a whole life that she knew. I think that leap, that risk taking is really an entrepreneurial trait and showing so much creativity about making our lives fun. We were learning through fun and being able to just build really strong values and by having us explore things. So we traveled, we got to sea at Mexico, we got to learn about our roots. We also got to learn about our Northern roots. And so all of those things I think made us really very, I like to think well-rounded people, but aware of the world around us and really looking for those opportunities to make things better, to find solutions and to try to fix things. Even my dad, we fix things. We don’t like to throw things away. We like to try to get in there and fix something and give it another chance at life. So, so many small lessons along the way.

Gordon Sheppard: Wow. Just thank you so much for bringing that to life. You remind me of just a moment in time for me as a speaker when I was in front of the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council event, and probably like 150 of your mom were in the room. Engineers, accountants, people that are significantly smarter than me, but they were arriving in Canada and they were there and kind of in their first second year looking to build their lives. I was so inspired by them and their stories and looking at how much tenacity that it takes. And you’ve just told sort of another story about that entrepreneurial flair that you really need to go that extra step and your mom has done that for you and inspired you. That flows through all the way to your leadership of AWE, which you’ve explained so eloquently to all of us today. Again, we could talk on and on, but if people need to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?

Marcela Mandeville: Well, our website of course, and I think you said you’re going to mention a link to our website. We’re also on social media, so encourage everyone to follow at AWE Business or AWE Business on Facebook and LinkedIn. Personally, I’m also on LinkedIn. Love to connect with as many people as possible as well as… And you can find me at Marcela Mandeville on LinkedIn and through AWE Business. So feel free to call our 1 (800) number and connect with my extension and talk to me anytime.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, let’s just jump in for just some details there. Sorry. And the website if you spelled it out is what?

Marcela Mandeville: Sure. It’s

Gordon Sheppard: Super. I think people are going to be able to get there. Take advantage of what they’ve learned today. Get in touch with you, get inspired. Learn from your mom and your dad and how that flows through you. Marcela, thank you so much for being on the show.

Marcela Mandeville: Thank you. I really appreciated the invitation

Gordon Sheppard: Now, I know you will absolutely have to agree that was a very powerful interview for all leaders. This idea of make sure you be authentic. Be in a position where you can actually develop community, where you can discover your power. Get the skills you need, be around the people that help you be successful. You can’t go wrong when you put those in the mix. And when you’ve got somebody experienced like Marcela at the helm, you know that ideas like full diversity will be put into play and you’re going to get the best results because the collisions that are going to happen will really be optimized and really take people to the next level.

If you enjoyed this interview, here’s a few other interviews with outstanding female leaders that you can hear on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. On episode 93, well it’s titled, Why Leaders Need Radical Conviction, and that’s with Eleanor Beaton. You can get that episode by going to And then on episode 141, well it’s called, How to Level up your Leadership Skills, and that is with Chelsey Reschke. You can get that episode by going to And on episode 146, I mean, you’re going to get so much in terms of just attitude shift from this one because get this, it’s called How Business Leaders Can Get What They Are Worth. That is with Denise Liebetrau. You can get that episode by going to

I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. If you are looking for terrific online and live training solutions for you and your team to level up your meeting leadership skills, then visit And for everyone who is already a subscriber, thank you so much. And if you haven’t done it yet, make sure to hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss another terrific episode. And as always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you next time on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies that help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you even more great content. We’ll see you next time right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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