For Women's History Month, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is celebrating prominent women in the Greater Vancouver business community. Our first profile features LifeLab's Chief Operating Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer, Jennifer Cudlipp.
What inspired you to pursue your line of work?
Throughout university, I focused on a career in finance and worked towards becoming a Chief Financial Officer. Once I achieved that goal, my next step was working towards a CFO position in a larger organization. When opportunities arose to take on completely different roles such as strategy and human resources or technology, the fear of the unknown was challenging at first, but ultimately has been very rewarding and proven to be a great decision. Currently, I am the Chief Operating Officer and interim Chief Financial Officer at LifeLabs.
I feel very fortunate to be in the health care industry, it has been incredibly rewarding to support Canadians in their healthcare needs over the course of my 20 years with LifeLabs, and particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health care is exciting and inspirational, because I really feel that we are at a crossroads of technology and science that is allowing us to push the limits of what we previously thought was possible.
Is there a female role model or mentor who helped you in your career?
I have been lucky to count on and learn from so many inspirational, accomplished and driven women throughout my career. My first role model and greatest supporter has always been my mother. She has instilled in me the values and strength of character that continue to guide me in everything I do, both inside and outside of work.
What is your favourite part about living and working in Greater Vancouver?
Greater Vancouver has a very strong sense of community. I have made incredible connections over the past several years and I look forward to making many more into the future.
I also appreciate how walkable the city is, and how many beautiful natural spaces we have to enjoy. One of my favourite places is the Seawall in Stanely Park. I love to take in the beautiful city views and enjoy time together with my family.
What is the biggest challenge facing our region right now?
How to improve the lives of those who are most vulnerable. I am very passionate about supporting local organizations, including the JIBC Foundation, United Way and the RainCity Housing and Support Society, that provide resources and services to those living with mental health, addiction and other challenges.
What is the biggest challenge for women in the workplace today?
Women's jobs were almost twice as likely to be at risk than men's during the pandemic, largely due to the increased need for unpaid care and the unbalanced burden that has on women. In addition, the increased housing crisis and overall rise in inflation have amplified barriers and challenges for women.
What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I really appreciate honest feedback, it drives me to evolve and grow as a leader and inspires me to strive for purposeful change.
Have you seen how women are treated at work change as equality is discussed more openly?
As work in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion becomes a greater priority in our organization and others, there is a greater emphasis on cultivating a culture of awareness, respect and integrity that is more supportive, accessible and uplifting toward women and other equity-seeking groups.
At LifeLabs, we've worked to develop valuable programs and initiatives, such as our Stronger Together program, DEI Steering Council and Employee Resource Groups, and ongoing partnerships with leading DE&I organizations. This work has had a considerable impact on our ability to identify how certain equity-seeking groups are represented in our organization, facilitate opportunities to bring awareness and cultivate understanding of some barriers faced by these groups, and create opportunities to uplift the voices of those who have unique perspectives, lived experiences and cultural identities.
What is the most important lesson, business or otherwise, life has taught you?
What do you know now that you wish you had known at the start of your career?
Don't let your fear of the unknown outweigh your hunger for growth. Embrace new challenges and opportunities whenever you can.