Ann Kaplan is the President and CEO of iFinance Canada, the parent company of Medicard, Petcard, Dentalcard, iFinance Tech, and iFinance Home Improvement. She’s won multiple awards for entrepreneurship and is also a co-star of Real Housewives of Toronto. She spoke with The Edge: A Leader’s Magazine for our Winners’ Circle feature, and a portion of her interview is below.
You’ve won many awards, including the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year’s PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship twice, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. You are also listed 10 times in Canada’s Top 100 Women in Business in three different publications. How do you feel about winning all these awards? How do you stay on top of your game?
I am thankful for the recognition. Often, we do not take the time to pat ourselves on the back or notice the different milestones. These types of recognitions help us to quantify our progress, especially through the nomination process.
Am I staying on top of my game? I am not afraid to work hard, and I mean extremely hard – I do not think of outcomes, but of processes. You cannot miss a beat. Physically staying alert, being well-read and well-informed are keys to being on top of your game.
What was the biggest obstacle or some of the most memorable challenges you had to face when starting your business? What were some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way you work?
Adapting to change is extremely difficult. When you have ridden on successes, it takes a lot of consideration and calculated risk to open yourself to change. The biggest impacts have been regulation, the economy and, of course, the internet. The internet opens everyone to a new way of receiving information. If you do not adapt your thinking to accept this (both the positive and the negative aspects), then you are not ahead of the pack.
Aside from the medical and business fields, do you have any other passions?
I am passionate about business but being a mother of eight does not open one’s “free time” to pursue much more than honing the art of nagging, which, apparently, I do very well.
Did you face any challenges being a woman in a male-dominated industry? What advice do you have for the countless women who look up to you?
I do not think about being a woman, nor do I seek out men or women in business for their gender. I just seek to do the best I can. It is harder to break down a door. But believe me, if you do your job well and focus on the business at hand, there is little room to be perceived as anything but accountable, able, and professional.
By Shirley Graham