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Week of Women leadership spotlight: Karen Erickson and Kayla Caruana

Karen Erickson and Kayla Caruana are a mother-daughter team of financial planners at IG Wealth Management in Kelowna, and they’re making waves in their field.

Caruana is one of the youngest certified financial planners the company has across the whole of Canada and is part of an all-female team.

She has attended national conferences and is part of a movement trying to make changes on a government level so that only certified people can call themselves financial planners.

As it is, she says, anyone can call themselves a financial planner – without having to go through the certification process.

“We are trying to raise the bar for professionalism and make sure everyone is held to a higher standard,” she explains.

She attributes her confidence and success to growing up with a strong female role model in her mother.

“I grew up in this business knowing I could make just as much or more than any male advisor out there, no problem,” Caruana says. “So I came into that with that mentality, thus the confidence and empowerment.”

“The glass ceiling has been a tremendous challenge,” Erickson adds.

“But because we are both self-employed, we do not have a glass ceiling at IG Wealth Management. We earn what we deserve and we can grow our business as fast as anybody can.”

Caruana says that she has been inspired by her mother’s leadership style over the years, which she describes as servant leadership.

“I would say that competence and confidence are key attributes for a woman in leadership,” Caruana says. “One who has the expertise and empowers others to grow and achieve, and my mother demonstrates both those qualities.”

“She was always one to say: ‘Okay, so what do you need? You are at the bottom, but I am not going to talk down to you, I’m going to ask you what you need in order to succeed.’

“She was always the first one to pick a tissue up off the ground, or if there was a spill she was down on the ground making sure that everything was clean and presentable.”

“I think that leadership, in general, is always doing the right thing wherever anyone is looking – that’s a big deal, lead from the front,” says Erickson.

“You cannot tell people what to do, you gotta show them what to do and I think that I wasn’t going to ask anyone to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do myself.”

As for leadership lessons learned along the way, Erickson says that one of the most common mistakes people make is with communication.

“I think that the most important thing that leaders need to do is to actually have a vision of where they want to go. One of the biggest mistakes they make is that they don’t communicate,” she explains.

“In order for you to move in one direction together, every team member, no matter where they play, has to play their role. They all need to know what that looks like and what is expected of them.”

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