Inside the BizBash Canada 250: Heather Odendaal
Odendaal is co-founder and C.E.O. of Whistler-based WNorth.
In the 2020 BizBash Best Canada issue, we named the top 250 event professionals in Canada. Here's a spotlight on one of them.
Why a leadership conference just for women?
We created WNorth to address an underserved need for leadership development to encourage more women to step into senior executive leadership roles. Women are seeking community among other driven and ambitious women and there are unique challenges that they face on their journey to C-suite.
You hold your conference in Whistler. How do you leverage the local tourism market to help draw people to your event?
Whistler is a world-renowned, luxury ski and travel destination, and there is no doubt that we leverage this association in positioning our boutique brand. We further leverage partnerships with key local partners to create unique experiences for our conference attendees. Our conference venue, Nita Lake Lodge, further drives the underlying theme of connectivity and intimacy, as it provides a unique and beautiful lakefront lodge-inspired setting in the Whistler mountains. Our main draw is impactful programming with the location and setting certainly adding to the appeal.
You started this conference from scratch. Can you talk about the biggest lesson learned through the start-up process?
Stay true to your vision but be flexible in your execution. We were clear from the beginning that we wanted to deliver a boutique conference experience, one that provided our attendees with unique access to our speakers through networking dinners and special events. Our speakers don’t simply fly in and fly out, they are an integral part of the conference. This type of execution does pose some logistical challenges, but we have found it is worth the effort as it provides a more rewarding and immersive experience for everyone participating.