Hayley Wickenheiser is a trailblazer in every sense of the word — and her passion for success all started at a young age. “Impressive” is too small a word to describe her many accomplishments to date, including four-time Olympic gold medalist, assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs, medical doctor, mother to Noah, and philanthropist.
As a female in a male-dominated sport, she faced adversity and discrimination throughout her hockey career. She is the epitome of grit and determination — going on to win four Olympic gold medals and play professional men’s hockey in Europe, effectively breaking down barriers for young female hockey players around the world.
Today, Wickenheiser manages to balance two demanding roles with the Leafs organization and as a resident physician in a hospital, all while making time for her family and charitable work. As we celebrate International Women's Day, Wickenheiser graciously agreed to take a break from her busy schedule and share learnings from her own journey to date, and the opportunities ahead for the next generation of female leaders.
“Balance is tricky,” she laughs. “I have my family, and my son Noah that always comes first, but since he’s off and away at school, I’m working a lot more. I go to the rink in the morning and I go to the hospital for the afternoon or evening shifts, or I reverse it. I work all the time — seven days a week right now,” said Wickenheiser. “I love what I do — there’s no other reason. I really enjoy medicine. It’s a big challenge for me to start something later in life again but I’ve always enjoyed helping people, so both jobs give me energy.”
Sport, leadership and success
Being a doctor isn't the only way Wickenheiser continues to help people. An outspoken advocate for women's sports, she founded WickFest in 2010, a tournament that brings together young female hockey players from around the world for a weekend of competition and skill-building.
“To me, empowerment is allowing people to rise. Great leaders and mentors can empower people by helping them reach their potential and attain their goals. It’s important to see other women having success and getting opportunities — particularly in male dominated fields — and being able to say ‘hey, I can do that too!”
While there continue to be barriers, Wickenheiser is committed to supporting the next generation of female hockey players through mentorship, training and education.
Empowerment in the digital age
Wickenheiser sees the digital age as an opportunity to create new solutions to address old problems. With greater investment in technology and innovation, we can create a safer and better world for all women and girls.
For Hayley, this starts with personal safety, ‘Safety doesn’t take a vacation. It is something that I talk about with my coworkers at the hospital. Taking control of your personal safety is so important.’
Wickenheiser started using TELUS SmartWear Security last year, a line of discreet personal safety devices disguised as jewelry. Each device is equipped with a hidden button — that once double clicked — can instantly text the GPS location of the registered user so your loved one can notify selected contacts and/or emergency services.
“Leaving a hockey game at night when it’s late, or even at school — I think it’s really appealing as a parent and for young women. I keep it on a keychain when walking to my car in the early morning or late at night to and from the hospital. It’s reassuring to know that with the push of a button — from a very accessible device that looks cool — I have people looking out for my personal safety immediately.”
When thinking about the future, Hayley is committed to ways where she is supporting and empowering the next generation. No matter what your goals are, TELUS SmartWear Security provides an extra layer of protection so you can keep your head in the game and focus on the things that matter.