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The power of practicing community as a verb, with Paulina Cameron, CEO of The Forum

This month we’re shining the spotlight on The Forum (for Women Entrepreneurs) and its CEO, Paulina Cameron. Paulina is an impact-driven leader, a feminist, and a mother who has made it her overarching mission to leave no woman behind. Paulina is the driving force behind The Forum’s vision and strategy. She's deeply committed to creating a welcoming space where women entrepreneurs of all backgrounds can thrive and has proudly championed them long before she was appointed CEO in 2019.

Paulina is the chair for the Immigrant Employment Council of BC and serves on the Province of BC's Small Business Roundtable, BC Economic Recovery Engagement Roundtable, and YWCA Metro Vancouver Board. In 2017, she published Canada 150 Women to bring more visibility to the accomplishments of Canadian women and inspire the next generation of leaders. Recently, she was also nominated as one of Business in Vancouver's 40 Under 40 and BC Business’ Most Influential Women in Finance.

Who: Paulina Cameron, CEO, The Forum

What: The Forum

Founded: 2002

Venturepark: How did The Forum get its start?

Paulina Cameron: The Forum (for Women Entrepreneurs) was founded by Christina Anthony and a close circle of champions in 2002 and inspired by the commitment and drive of women entrepreneurs. Christina created this non-profit organization to ensure women entrepreneurs felt equipped to achieve anything they set their minds to. Our educational programs, mentorship, and deeply collaborative, connected community are all focused on helping women set and achieve big goals in their businesses.

VP: What's the biggest lesson you've learned in your role supporting women entrepreneurs?

PC: The power of just saying yes, and starting with one of our programs and all the incredible paths it might lead. We have so many faculty members, donors and mentors (and team members like me!) who took a chance and said yes to signing up for just one program and it led them on an incredible path and often full circle. We see our members start as program participants, and then progress to faculty, educating women who were in their seat before. There’s immense power in the “full circle effect.”

VP: What's the best advice you've received in your role supporting women entrepreneurs?

PC: Be open to opportunities and connections, as the best support or insight sometimes comes from unexpected places. Always be building community: community is who will carry you forward, support you in hard days, be your champions and connectors. Investing in relationships with community not only pays off but will fuel you personally in a deeply meaningful way. Practice community as a verb.

VP: And the worst advice you've received in your role supporting women entrepreneurs?

PC: Any sentence that starts with “you should…” No one can ever know your unique circumstances nor do they have a Magic 8-Ball to predict everything. While advice can be helpful for options and considerations, there is no one way to do anything so watch out for any advice that "shoulds" all over you. Sometimes following your own sense of intuition is exactly the right path and you don’t need to justify that.

VP: Can you share a bit about The Forum’s educational opportunities you think our readers would enjoy?

PC: We offer several core resources, in addition to a variety of seasonal or industry-specific programming that is new each season:

  • The Forum E-Series (aka. Entrepreneur Series) - where you can receive foundational entrepreneurial education in business ownership & growth.

  • The Forum Mentor Program - where you can access insights and advice on how to achieve your specific business goals from experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders.

  • The Forum Pitch - which helps entrepreneurs navigate and fast track their funding journey by providing them access to specialized resources so they can share their business visions with confidence and secure the funding, community, and support they need for growth.

Our programs are designed to help all Canadian women entrepreneurs build resilient businesses — regardless of their industry, team size, or experience level.

VP: Which program would you recommend to someone interested in joining the community and learning more about The Forum?

PC: Our Wednesday Weekly Virtual Connects program, which is held every Wednesday at 11am PST | 2pm EST is where The Forum practices community as a verb. Each week, The Forum brings together self-identified women entrepreneurs from across the country for an hour of connection. We aim to create a space for each entrepreneur to feel supported, share their business, ask questions and offer their resources to others on the call.

Learn more about The Forum and its incredible community of women entrepreneurs.

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