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IWIB Awards: A Q&A with Jeanette Jackson

The CEO of Foresight Canada will be recognized at an event on International Women's Day

BIV will recognize five exceptional leaders at its annual Influential Women in Business Awards event on March 8 in Vancouver.

The following Q&A with award recipient Jeanette Jackson, CEO of Foresight Canada, was originally published in the Feb. 27 print edition of BIV.

In her current role, Jackson led the rapid growth and transformation of a regional organization into Canada’s largest cleantech accelerator.

Under her leadership, Foresight has expanded accelerator programs across the country, built an industry innovation program and launched a sectoral approach to accelerate cleantech innovation.

Previously, Jackson was the founding CEO of Light-Based Technologies. As an executive-in-residence with Foresight, she has advised more than 20 ventures in several markets.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

In late 2008, I was working on scaling my cleantech venture just as the financial crisis was about to hit. We stayed the course and were able to close our Series B round of financing, one of the only and last ventures to secure funding for 12 to 18 months.

Your toughest professional challenge?

See above. I guess sometimes the toughest challenges can turn into the most meaningful accomplishments.

Greatest advice ever received?

The greatest advice I have ever received was to remember that with every obstacle comes an opportunity. Business is full of challenges, but with each challenge comes an opportunity to reflect and move forward more effectively than before.

What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out?

I wish I knew that there are times to give and times to take. When you are building something under your vision, you need to be coachable and open to other perspectives while still staying true to yourself and the underlying why that drove you to start your venture or business in the first place. 

What does it take to be a leader in 2023?

I believe the most important characteristics for leaders in 2023 are vision, empathy and (brutal) honesty. If you have a vision, find a way to communicate it clearly so that your team understands how they fit in. From there, you need to understand that to be successful you cannot do it alone. Finally, be direct and honest with feedback, good and bad. It helps create a space of trust and respect. 

What are you looking forward to personally and professionally this year?

This year, I’m personally looking forward to seeing my daughter take the next steps in her soccer career. Professionally, I’m looking forward to continuing to build Foresight into a globally recognized cleantech innovation network that supports all provinces and territories.

What is your best habit?

Staying relentless. Regardless of the challenge, I stay focused and diligent.

A book you would recommend?

The World According to Garp – a classic read.

One surprising or improbable fact about yourself?

I quarterbacked a women’s football team for four years in my late 30s.

A female leader or woman in business you admire?

MacKenzie Scott – she is changing the game on philanthropy.

A cause or non-profit you support?

Foresight Canada.

What do you do to relax?

Walk my pups and pilates.

A top tip for staying organized?

Use your calendar.

A favourite quote?

Change is the only thing that is constant.

Celebrate Jackson and BIV's four other 2023 Influential Women in Business Award recipients on International Women's Day, March 8. Tickets and event details are available here.