Archive | January, 2015

Global and local forces raise living standards: Shirin Ahmed

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

Samuel Getachew

Toronto

Shirin Ahmed is with Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Institute. She reflects with Generation Next on her biography, her travels to East Africa, gives her perspectives why international development is important and finally, shares her wisdom to those who may want to emulate such a fulfilling career as hers.

Shirin – Tell me about yourself?

I am originally from Pakistan and later moved to California. Growing up in Pakistan, I was exposed to many of the socio-political challenges that a developing country faces. I saw how weak systems –political, educational and health care—crumbled when the country was struck by internal and external threats. I saw the devastation that Pakistan experienced as a result of natural disasters, a situation worsened by poorly executed development efforts. And I saw how in both scenarios, healthcare, a fundamental human right, became difficult to access for many communities in the country.

As an undergrad at Yale, navigating through the school’s diverse liberal arts curriculum, I chose to deepen my understanding of international development and global health issues. I am currently a Program Manager at the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute where I manage a number of research and programmatic activities related to health systems strengthening. This includes Project Last Mile (a multi-country program focused on supply chain management), a leadership development program with the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other interdisciplinary projects in the US and international settings.

You have had the experience of travelling places such as Uganda via AIESEC. How was that experience like and why do you think that was a worthwhile experience?

I had always wanted to understand what it meant to work in the global health sector. Uganda was my first trip to East Africa. I had previously spent a few months studying Arabic in Morocco, which had given me a completely different picture of the African continent. In Uganda, I had the opportunity to work with a local NGO that served a small rural community to conduct a needs assessment and initiate a number of community-based interventions for women living with HIV/AIDS.

On a personal level, this was one of the most intense and fulfilling experiences of my life. It pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, confront challenges that I had not previously been exposed to, seek comfort in the little things in life and learn to remain flexible amidst the uncertainties and lack of structure of the program. At a professional level, it was an equally enriching experience— witnessing how a community functions in poverty and understanding the difficulties that local organizations confront to effectively implement their programs in the face of limited resources. I realized that one individual or one organization cannot do much, we need a host of stakeholders—global and local—to work together to raise living standards around the world.

Perhaps what made the trip most worthwhile was the opportunity to integrate in the local culture and meet lots of people. I vaguely remember crying myself to bed my first night in Kampala, dreading how I was going to live with so many strangers in a new country. Little did I know that I would be teary saying goodbye to all the amazing friends I had made during my time in Uganda, many of whom I continue to stay in touch with to date.

Share with me about the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute?

The Yale Global Health Leadership Institute is a research institute that brings together faculty, policymakers, and practitioners across disciplines to advance research, policy, and practice in global health at Yale and beyond. We coordinate global health educational opportunities for students, catalyze interdisciplinary research and partnerships with faculty and support countries in their efforts to evaluate and improve organizational performance and health outcomes. Through our work, we have collaborated with many international partners, including Management Sciences for Health, The Global Fund, The Coca-Cola Company, Clinton Health Access Initiative, The Commonwealth Fund and many others.

One of the objective of the new President of Yale, Peter Salovey, is to make global health a priority for the university. Why do you think these ideals are important in the global effort to promote better health in the world?

Global health challenges are among the world’s most urgent and complex problems. The vision for global health at Yale is to inspire university-wide collaboration to improve human health around the globe. By bringing together different expertise, we hope to effectively and sustainably address global health challenges.

You recently made a trip to Ethiopia and hosted Ethiopian delegates to the United States through YGH. Share with me some of the highlights of these trips?

Earlier this month, I travelled with two Yale engineering students to Ethiopia to meet with physicians and engineers at Mekelle University. The purpose of our trip was to present and get feedback on a low-cost and low-tech prototype of a respiratory support system for neonates that the students have developed at Yale. With uncertainty around how the device was going to be received in Ethiopia and leading a group of students who had never been to Africa, I was undoubtedly nervous. However, the trip could not have gone better! The prototype was received with great enthusiasm and while much work needs to be done before the device can be commercially viable, it was reassuring to see that there is a definitely a need for such a device in Ethiopian hospital settings.

Now completely shifting gears, in November this past year, I hosted a group from the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strategize on issues of regional security, business development and organizational capacity. Bringing together such senior level officials and connecting them to experts at Yale and in DC, it struck me how powerful making a simple connection could go in building a strong and fruitful relationship in the future. It was heartwarming for me to visit the group again in Ethiopia, who insist on calling me by an Ethiopian name they have given me, Shelemat, which means gift in Amharic, and I feel proud of their continued enthusiasm and commitment to work with Yale.

I am no engineer, nor an expert on Ethiopian politics but through my work, I am starting to understand what needs to be done to turn an idea into reality. These projects are like puzzles I am trying to solve (often with lots of missing pieces and a blindfold) but through them, I have come to appreciate the power of bringing people together, of connecting the dots and of being able to come one step closer to making a tangible difference.

To those who are considering in getting involved in international development as well as international affairs, what advice do you have for them?

Many of us studying these concepts enter into the field, thinking we know exactly how to “fix” the problems we see around us. But my advice to all those interested in pursuing a career in international affairs and public health would be to spend some time in the field and get to know the communities you live in. Think big and innovative, be open-minded, recognize the power of collaboration and know that there is no cookie cutter solution to all the world’s problems.


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Obama-Modi ties reflect deepening relationship between US and India

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

US industrial interests took centre-stage at the start of Barack Obama’s visit to India as he and the prime minister, Narendra Modi, outlined a deal to limit the legal liability of US suppliers in the event of a nuclear power plant catastrophe.

The Indian government has agreed to a state-backed insurance scheme that would cap the exposure of nuclear suppliers and open the door to billions of dollars of new contracts.Indiawill also allow closer tracking of spent fuel to limit the risk of it falling into terrorist hands.

“Today we achieved a breakthrough understanding on two issues that were holding up our civil nuclear cooperation,” US President Obama said.

“The [2005] civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our transformed relationship, which demonstrated new trust and economic opportunities and expanded our option for clean energy,” added Indian Prime Minister Modi.

“In the course of the past four months we have worked with a sense of common purpose to move it forward … I am pleased we have agreed the next stage, consistent with our law and technical and commercial viability.”

To fuel its rapidly industrialising economy,Indiahopes to increase the share of electricity generated from nuclear sources from 4% to 25% by 2050.

Modi said he supported efforts to tackle climate change, but pointedly refused to accept comparisons with the recent US deal withChina, whichIndiaviews as further ahead in its industrialisation phase.

“We expressed hope for a successfulParisconference on climate change this year,” said the Indian prime minister. “The agreement that has been concluded between theUSandChinadoes not impose pressure on us;Indiais an independent country. But climate change and global warning itself is huge pressure.”

The two leaders trumpeted more limited deals on air pollution and renewable energy that theUSpresident said would help “promote clean energy and confront climate change”. TheUSsaid it would share data and tools to help improve air quality.

Obama said his decision to become the first American president to attend the Republic Day parade reflected his commitment to deepen theUS’s relationship withIndia. “A strong relationship withIndiais critical toAmerica’s success in the 21st century,” he said.

 

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BANK OF CANADA CONTRADICTS HARPER GOVERNMENT

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

The Hon. Ralph Goodale

Ottawa 

Stephen Harper’s vaunted “management” of the Canadian economy is bedevilled by serious contradictions and mediocre results.

Mr. Harper once spoke enthusiastically, at home and abroad, about the central importance ofCanada’s energy sector. We are a global superpower in oil and gas, he said. And he looked to that one sector to be the prime driver of national economic well-being. That singular focus also shaped his fiscal policies, his views on the environment and his relationship with our biggest trading partner in theUnited States.

When oil was priced at more than $100/barrel, Mr. Harper’s unidimensional economic plan escaped scrutiny. But with market values now chopped in half, many people are asking why he put the country in such a vulnerable position. Why did he bet so much on just one commodity? And where is plan “B”?

Amazingly, Mr. Harper argues there’s no need for any other plan. Swallowing himself whole, he is now dismissing the petroleum industry (and by implication, producing provinces likeSaskatchewanandAlberta) as just minor players whose impact and current troubles are no big deal.

If that’s true, why did he suddenly delay the federal budget to some unspecified date beyond the end of this entire fiscal year?

Ten days ago, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said low oil price were entirely manageable and had, in fact, been fully factored into his economic projections. But just 24 hours later, Mr. Oliver announced the exact opposite. The budget suddenly had to be delayed, he said, because markets were destabilized.

But wait a minute, low oil prices were no last minute surprise. They’ve been falling since last summer. Prominent industry leaders last autumn were predicting a tumble to as low as $30/barrel. The flip-flop from sanguine to panicky made the Finance Minister look inadequate and confused.

The Governor of the Bank of Canada wasn’t confused. He reported last week on the consequences of a weakened energy sector – declining growth rates, thousands of lost jobs, billions of dollars in cancelled investment and a ballooning Canadian trade deficit. He said current oil prices are “unambiguously negative” forCanada.

As a consequence, the Bank of Canada chopped its prime lending rate. That action and the Governor’s strong language are signals of real concern about a stalling economy.

It’s strange indeed to see the federal government and the central bank headed in opposite and contradictory directions.

The Bank of Canada is moving to stimulate greater growth, while Mr. Harper pushes more austerity – with the net effect of reducing aggregate demand. His only discernible goal is protecting his ill-conceived Income Splitting scheme (which the late Jim Flaherty rightly depicted as too expensive and decidedly unfair). It also does nothing for growth.

The facts are inescapable facts. Income Splitting will cost $10-billion over the government’s planning cycle. Only 14% of households will benefit – 86% cannot even qualify. And of those who do, the biggest gains go to wealthier folks, like Mr. Harper himself.

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Harper Government Focused on Lower Taxes for Families

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and the Honourable Denis Level, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs, and Minister of the Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec, welcomed the return of Parliament and set out the Government’s priorities in the House of Commons in 2015.

“Canadians sent us here to do a job. We’re focused on what matters to hardworking Canadians and their families,” said Minister Van Loan. “Our Government will continue to focus on economic and financial security, creating and protecting jobs, keeping taxes low for Canadian families and keeping Canada and Canadians safe in an increasingly dangerous world. “

As parliament resumes, the Harper Government will continue to build the best country in the world by focusing on:

Implementing the Family Tax Cut

Expanding the Universal Child Care Benefit

Increasing the childcare expense deductions

Balancing the Budget

Helping Canadian youth train for opportunities in demand through the Canada Job Grant and Canada Apprentice Loan

Continued implementation of the Government of Canada’s unprecedented investment in public infrastructure

Protecting Canadians from Jihadist terrorism by confronting the threat abroad and ensuring police and security agencies have the tools they need here at home

Keeping our communities safe by ensuring a life sentence means exactly that

Ensuring the rights of victims are placed over those of criminals

ProtectingCanada’s children from high-risk predators

“Our Government is proud of our record of making careful, principled choices that reflect the values of hardworking Canadians,” added Minister Lebel. “We will continue to stand up for those who pay their taxes, play by the rules and are trying to make ends meet in a challenging world. As parliament returns, we remains focused on the issues that matter to them.”

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Justin Trudeau out to represent true diversity

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

By Samuel Getachew

Only a fool will underestimate Justin Trudeau in this year’s upcoming federal election.

As the federal NDP solidifies the widely held notion that they are not government material by way of recent defections, lack of attractive candidates and distinct policies, the only viable options left for Canadians is a clear choice between Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Let it be understood that the next election is not a choice between fundamental policy differences but personalities and legacies.

Unless the Conservatives renew themselves by way of a sudden leadership change or political miracle, Justin Trudeau is destined to become Prime Minister. In the words of former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, Trudeau is “young, articulate, attractive – a flawlessly bilingual young man”.

At a media reception hosted by Trudeau inMississaugalast night, billed as “Celebrating Canada’s Diversity”, I witnessed just that and more. I saw true diversity, a mix of old and young candidates, the experienced and inexperienced, the activists and the elitists united with the prospect of a wind of change that is coming their way yet seemed a fantasy just one election cycle ago.

The Liberals seem to realize that Trudeau is their last savior and a rare chance to be relevant to the Canadian electorate once again. Withstanding some foolish remarks, Trudeau has fulfilled the promise that was placed on him two years ago. Liberals seem to have realized that their leader was never a Rhodes Scholar material nor a prospect member of Mensa Society but a reasonable man who is comfortable in his own skin, biography and it shows.

He seems to know and understand the Liberal brand is not the NDP content on losing and is certainly not one to sit on the sidelines and sing kumbaya. To help accomplish that destination that is obviously within reach, leader Trudeau has surrounded himself with competent advisers with experience and wisdom such as Ralph Goodale, who was first elected to the House of Commons in 1974 and John McCallum.

He is even attracting attractive and competent candidates to the Liberal cause.

Ahmed Hussen, running in York South – Weston is a Somali-Canadian father of two, is a criminal and immigration lawyer. He has also led the Somali Canadian Congress able, eloquently and has been a force on issues of integration and multiculturalism. He has testified before the House of Commons and the United States Congress on important and pressing issues.

His win is a historic first for such a candidate. He is a bright and accomplished Canadian success story. He has also been a mentor and an exemplary role model to me and many others.

Mississauga’s Iqra Khalid is yet another perfect and inspiring candidate. A Pakistani Canadian who is 29 years old is nominated in Mississauga Erin-Mills. A recent Law school graduate, who is articling with the City ofMississauga, expects to be called to the Bar later on this year. She wants to inspire young people to be active in politics and activism.

In her own words – she wants to “Inform. Reform. Empower”.

Running in Mississauga-Lakeshore is yet another wonderful candidate in Sven Sengemann.

TheYorkUniversityprofessor spent almost a decade with the United Nations, including inIraq, and also held senior leadership roles with the Government of Canada. With a PHD from Harvard, he has been a visiting Scholar with theUniversityofToronto’s Peter Munk School of Global Affairs and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. He has also served as a board member with theUnited Way.

This is no longer the titanic like party that was on suicide watch in 2011 but a movement that should be embraced and welcomed by Canadians. That is whether one is a Liberal or not.

Trudeau is an impressive, passionate and gifted politician. Since taking over a near-bankrupt third placed humiliated party two years ago, he has made it a political movement on the upward. The party is now a well-organized and funded political institution and has also managed to recruit candidates and volunteers that truly represent the newCanada. This was not achieved by way of political anointment or appointment that was the norm under previous leaders to arrive to a calculated destination but by-way-of a fair and open political organization and competition.

It must, once again, be good to be a federal Liberal.

If you are one, just remember your leader has the luck of being underestimated like Jean Chretien was, to draw people the way Sir Wilfrid Laurier did with his longevity and the wisdom to turn to experienced people the way Pierre Trudeau and Lester B. Pearson did. Then, like a typical Liberal, there is the will to win in his blood.

Embrace the moment Liberals and welcome back. It sure seems like old times.

 

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Obama reveals nuclear breakthrough on landmark India trip

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

In a glow of bonhomie, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled plans to unlock billions of dollars in nuclear trade and to deepen defense ties, steps they hope will establish an enduring strategic partnership.

The two countries reached an understanding on two issues that, despite a groundbreaking 2006 agreement, had stoppedU.S.companies from setting up reactors in India and had become one of the major irritants in bilateral relations.

“We are committed to moving towards full implementation,” Obama told a joint news conference with Modi. “This is an important step that shows how we can work together to elevate our relationship.”

The new deal resolved differences over the liability of suppliers toIndia in the event of a nuclear accident andU.S.demands on tracking the whereabouts of material supplied to the country,U.S.ambassador to India Richard Verma told reporters.

“Ultimately it’s up to the companies to go forward, but the two governments came to an understanding,” he added.

Signaling warmth and determination to take ties to a higher level, Modi broke with protocol to meet and bear-hug Obama as he landed inNew Delhi, then referred to him as Barack. It was a remarkable spectacle, given that a year ago Modi was persona non grata inWashingtonand was denied a visa to theUnited States.

Between a working lunch that included kebabs made with lotus stem, figs and spices and an evening banquet where Obama spoke a smattering of Hindi, the two leaders got down to talks.

They emerged with a 10-year framework for defense ties and deals on cooperation that included the joint production of drone aircraft and equipment for Lockheed Martin Corp’s C-130 military transport plane.

Other deals ranged from an Obama-Modi hotline – India’s first at a leadership level — to financing initiatives aimed at helping India use renewable energy to lower carbon intensity.

But Modi cautioned that work was still needed to create a solid partnership between the world’s two largest democracies.

“We have to convert a good start into lasting progress. This requires translating our vision into sustained action and concrete achievements,” he said, standing next to Obama.

On Monday, Obama will be the firstU.S.president to attendIndia’s Republic Day parade, an annual show of military might long associated with the anti-Americanism of the Cold War. He will also host a radio show with Modi.

His presence at the parade at Modi’s personal invitation marks the latest upturn in a roller-coaster bilateral relationship that just a year ago was in tatters.

Up to 40,000 security personnel have been deployed for the visit and 15,000 new closed-circuit surveillance cameras have been installed in the capital, according to media reports.

NEW VITALITY

TheUnited Statesviews India as a vast market and potential counterweight in Asia to a more assertive China, but has frequently been frustrated with the slow pace ofNew Delhi’s economic reforms and unwillingness to side withWashingtonin international affairs.

Elected last May, Modi has injected a new vitality into the economy and foreign relations and, toWashington’s delight, has begun pushing back against China acrossAsia.

In a veiled reference to China, the leaders reiterated the “importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, especially in theSouth China Sea”. They also called for the peaceful resolution of territorial conflicts.

Obama will depart slightly early from India to travel to Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah, skipping a planned visit to the Taj Mahal.

Like Obama, Modi rose from modest origins to break into a political elite dominated by powerful families. Aides say the two men bonded inWashingtonin September when Obama took Modi to the memorial of Martin Luther King, whose rights struggle was inspired byIndia’s Mahatma Gandhi.

On Sunday, the two leaders talked outside over tea in an elegant garden. Modi, who sold tea on a railway platform as a child, poured a cup for Obama.

The “chemistry” they describe is striking because Modi’s politics is considerably to the right of Obama’s and because he was banned from visiting theUnited Statesfor nearly a decade after deadly Hindu-Muslim riots in a state he governed.

Obama, the first sittingU.S.president to visit India twice, also enjoyed a close friendship with Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh, who staked his premiership on the controversial nuclear deal that made India the sixth “legitimate” atomic power and marked ahigh pointin Indo-U.S. relations.

The deal failed to deliver on a promise of business forU.S.companies because ofIndia’s reluctance to shield suppliers from liability, a deviation from international norms that reflects the memory of theBhopalindustrial disaster.

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Is Pakistani military undermining civilian institutions?

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore

  The increased role of the Army in internal security matters, especially the setting up military courts, has led to an interesting political debate inPakistan. A number of politically active people, including some lawyers, describe this development as a setback to democratic principles and values. That the military is gradually undermining elected civilian institutions and processes.

 Another section of population which appears to be larger in number than the first group argues that the decline of civilian processes and the inability of the political leaders to cope with the challenges has threatened the future of Pakistani state and society. This failure has led to the increased reliance on the military for addressing the current security problems. People are generally unhappy with the performance of civilian processes and political leaders.

  A large section of politically aware and active populace expresses disappointment with the performance of the elected government and especially its delivery of basic services to people. This kind of discontentment was expressed during the PPP rule (2008-2013) but it seemed to have deepened during the current rule by the PMLN. The latest non-availability of petrol on top of electricity and gas shortages has increased frustration and anger at the societal level. If these trends are not reversed the long term sustainability of democracy will be jeopardized inPakistan.

 This alienation is in sharp contrast to the pro-democracy disposition of politically aware and active population in 2007-2008. By 2007 the civilianized military regime of General Pervez Musharraf had run aground in terms of governance and political management.

 General Musharraf’s political blunders like the attempt to remove the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (March 2007), securing his re-election in October 2007 and, above all, the imposition of state of emergency on November 3, 2007, shocked the legal community, political parties and other activists. They took to streets in support of constitutional and civilian rule, civil and political and economic rights and participatory governance. There was much optimism about the future of democracy inPakistanwhen the elected PPP government assumed power at the federal level in March 2008.

 Now, much disenchantment from the elected civilian rule is visible at the common person level. This is typical of the societies where democratic aspirations repeatedly get frustrated by the poor performance of political leaders. The rulers view the electoral mandate as a license for their self-articulated agendas rather than addressing the issues that hurt them most in daily life. Another problem common with such rulers is that they personalize political power and give greater importance to loyalty over professionalism and merit.

 Pakistan is currently experiencing a conflict between the theory of democracy and its implementation in terms of governance and political management. Every political leader talks about constitutionalism and democracy. However, the political leaders engage in bitter power struggle without any regard to the principles of democracy. The party in power want to concentrate power in its hands and refuses to accommodate the opposition demands. The opposition opposes the government on each and every issue and does not hesitate to challenge through the street protest.

 The problem inPakistanrelates to the operational side of democracy. This concerns political leadership, parties and dynamics of politics. All these elements have not been helpful in translating democratic aspirations and principles into concrete policy measures that strengthen the ties between the ordinary people and the democratic political process.

 Elections provide electoral legitimacy to the party in power. However, it is important that the electoral process is generally viewed as fair, free and transparent by most political contestants. If there are questions about the credibility of the elections, these cannot ensure electoral legitimacy. The widely shared doubts about the credibility of the elections need to be addressed in a judicious manner rather than evading the issue or dismissing it as propaganda.

 Even if the elections are generally viewed as fair, free and transparent by a large number of political contestants, these do not give a free hand to the ruling party to govern the way it likes till the next scheduled elections.

 Electoral legitimacy needs to be supplemented by performance legitimacy if an elected government wants to hold power for its full tenure. The government must adopt concrete policies and administrative measures to ensure physical as well as socio-economic security to the common people. The people in general must perceive the government as helpful in addressing their socio-economic problems and personal security issues. Further, it must ensure transparency in official financial deals and the use of the state patronage.

  The performance ofPakistan’s federal and provincial governments is poor in socio-economic development, internal security and transparency and professionalism. The federal government has found it difficult to cope with challenges in the civilian domains and has drifted from crisis to crisis. It also suffers from wrong priorities for development work by opting for publicity oriented construction and road building and transport projects. It pays less attention to addressing the issues that hurt badly the common people, i.e. the shortages of electricity, gas and petrol, price hike for essential commodities, lack of attention to education and health care. There are strong complaints about the misuse of state resources and corruption in high offices.

 It is not surprising that there is a widespread alienation at the common people level from the elected governments, especially at the federal level. With the exception of the direct beneficiaries of the faltering democratic government, the doubts have increased about the capacity of the political leadership in power to handle the political, economic and internal security crisis.

The Army authorities have taken the initiative from the federal government for foreign and security policies and they are prodding the federal government to deal effectively with the civilian side of countering terrorism. It has not so far overcome its traditional slow pace and ambiguity about the Islamic hardline and sectarian groups based inPunjab.

 Therefore, the alienation and anger at the popular level is focused on the performance side of democratic institutions and leaders rather than the idea of democracy. However, anger against the rulers often delegitimizes the whole system, making democracy insecure inPakistan.

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Four key leadership lessons from top female executives

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

Recent studies have revealed something that many savvy women have known all along: women are good for business. With so many women-run startups cropping up and more companies looking to create diverse boardrooms, women are proving to deliver tangible and intangible advantages. A recent analysis by Fortune revealed that Fortune 1000 companies with female CEOs earn higher stock market returns than those with male CEOs.

Here’s what they have to teach you:

Invest time upfront in finding the right hires

Following the successful launch and sale of her first startup, Stacey Ferreira, co-founder of AdMoar, is using her leadership skills to build a new disruptive company. As a leader in a male-dominated industry, her perspective centers on proper team building.

“I think that success in leading a team comes first and foremost from making the right hiring decisions. As a founder, one of the best ways you can spend your time is finding the right people to hire who will contribute to expanding the company vision, executing to make that vision happen and contribute to a positive company culture. If you invest the time upfront, find the right hires and onboard them effectively, then you won’t run into many problems leading the team. Once you’ve found those people, giving them the responsibility and freedom to create and execute with regular check-ins works well for small-to-medium-sized companies.”

Look for complementary skill sets

Knowing where your blind spots are is one of the best way to properly fill in those areas before they become problematic.

“Be keenly aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and build your team to complement those things,” says Sian Morson, founder and CEO of Kollective Mobile.

Communication is key

After working for mega personalities and brands such as Magic Johnson and Starbucks, Nikkole Denson-Randolph, vice-president of special and alternative content for AMC, learned the most critical aspects of successfully leading teams.

“Be approachable. The more welcoming you are, the more communication you will have so there’s much less confusion on your team and fewer unwelcome surprises. Don’t be hesitant to deal with individuals as soon as a problem presents itself. Address it right away, be clear about what the issue is and most of all be constructive. Address the issue, and provide context or an example of how it should have been prepared/handled/etc., and the end result should benefit the both of you. Set an example. There should be consistency between your actions and what you’re asking your team to do. Reward the right work ethic, and address actions that don’t support the company values/philosophy. Encourage developmental growth. Assign tough, but fair tasks, learn about their career goals and share as much relevant information as you can to support their growth.”

Put your people ahead of yourself

She calls herself theMichaelBayof business and for good reason: Cindy Gallop, founder of IfWeRanTheWorld and Make Love, Not Porn, runs two game-changing startups and continues to blaze trails for women who want to launch and scale enterprises.

“Hire the very best people you can find, give them an inspiring, compelling vision of what you want them to achieve for the business, free them up and empower them to achieve that vision any way they choose to using their own skills and talents, constantly demonstrate how much you value them (with words and deeds as well as compensation), and enable them to share in the profit they help to create. And always put your people ahead of yourself.”

As you can see, having the right mix of people is a common thread, but it’s also important to properly manage them. Beyond that, it’s important to stay focused on the goals you’ve set for your team. Remember that every interaction doesn’t have to be a battle. Sometimes being at odds with a team member means getting creative with how you approach influence and negotiation. Studying topics such as communication differences between men and women will also aid you as you adapt your style of leadership to various settings.

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Canadian banks on brink of mortgage price war

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

Canada’s major banks are heading into a renewed mortgage price war in the wake of the Bank of Canada’s surprise decision to cut interest rates.

Mortgage brokers reported that Royal Bank ofCanadadropped its five-year fixed rate for qualified borrowers to 2.84 per cent over the weekend. While smaller, non-bank lenders have started offering even cheaper rates, RBC’s rate cut is likely a record for a major bank, said Drew Donaldson, executive vice-president of Safebridge Financial Group. The bank also slashed its posted 10-year fixed rate to 3.84 per cent, the lowest nationally advertised rate in the country, said Robert McLister, founder of Ratespy.com.

RBC spokesman Wojtek Dabrowski said the bank continues to “review the impact of the Bank of Canada’s rate decision,” and that the company’s “individual product lines continue to make pricing adjustments in the regular course of business to ensure we provide competitive rates in the marketplace.”

Bank of Nova Scotia and National Bank ofCanadahave also cut fixed rates on broker-originated mortgages by 10 to 20 basis points in recent days. Toronto-Dominion Bank said it was dropping its posted 5-year fixed rate on Tuesday to 3.09 per cent, down from 3.29 per cent.

Mortgage officials said RBC was among the last of the major banks to introduce new rate specials.

“National Bank already offers competitive rates over the mortgage rate spectrum as we moved early over the past weeks,” bank spokesman Claude Breton said.

A battle in the mortgage market seemed inevitable given that Government of Canada bond yields have plummeted in recent weeks, falling 57 basis points in the past month to historic lows. Brokers had predicted that falling bond yields were almost certain to drive down the fixed-rate mortgage pricing ahead of the competitive spring housing market even as banks have largely kept their prime rates, which govern variable-rate mortgages along with other types of loans, unchanged. All the major banks will soon be forced to follow the Bank of Canada and cut their prime rates 25 basis points to 2.75 per cent, Mr. Donaldson said. “We expect more cuts to come from all lenders,” he said.

Even ahead of the Bank of Canada’s unexpected rate cut last week, the country’s major banks already seemed poised for a new round of rate cuts this year. Earlier this month, Bank of Montreal chief executive officer Bill Downe told an industry conference the bank was expecting to “again have a fresh offer that is appealing to customers” in the spring. The bank drew the ire of former finance minister Jim Flaherty in 2013 after it dropped its five-year fixed mortgage rate to 2.99 per cent in what Mr. Flaherty called a “race to the bottom.”

The renewed price war is raising concerns that the central bank’s rate cut will add fuel to the country’s overheated housing market even as Canadians struggle under the burden of rising household debt. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal warned last week that falling mortgage rates could lead to “a monstrous spring in the real estate market.”

Others argue that low rates may not be enough to kick start a housing market that had already begun to slow toward the end of this year as oil prices plunged. Even as they predicted that Canada’s central bank will cut interest rates a second time later this year, TD economists said Monday they expect Canada’s real estate market to fare poorly this year as cheap crude and sky-high house prices in major cities are making it difficult for new buyers to afford to jump into the market despite low mortgage rates. “The housing market is … projected to be a drag on growth, with changes in existing home sales and prices, as well as housing starts, forecast to tilt into negative territory,” the bank said.

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Why was Evelyn forced to call off a party in her Dubai hotel room?

Posted on 29 January 2015 by admin

Evelyn Sharma was forced to call off a party in her hotel room in Dubai as the hotel staff objected to it as it was against the management’s rules Recently in Dubai to at – tend a function, Evelyn

Sharma decided to host a party in her hotel suite and in – vited nearly a dozen friends over. However, when the hotel staff got wind of the li’l get-together, they warned the starlet to call it off as it was against the management’s rules. Apparently, what followed was a long argument but eventually, Evelyn had to relent. A source says, “Evelyn had gone to Dubai for an ap – pearance and her friends were accompanying her. After the event got over, she threw an impromptu party and called

around 10 people to the hotel where she had put up. Seeing so many guests walking into her suite, the staff told her it was against the hotel rules to have so many people in one room.” The actress is said to have

refused to comply and created a scene. The source adds: “The situation was about to get out of hand as Evelyn wasn’t willing to heed their warnings. Finally, the man – ager intervened and had the party called off. He also apol – ogised to Evelyn when she claimed that one of the staff members was rude to her.” Evelyn confirms the re – port, saying, “We had to wind up early since the manager humbly requested and I didn’t want his job to be at stake.”

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