South Cayuga raised Cynthia Weeden honoured as one of the ‘Most Powerful Women in Canada’

South Cayuga raised Cynthia Weeden honoured as one of the  ‘Most Powerful Women in Canada’
Cynthia Weeden

By Mike Renzella

The Haldimand Press

SOUTH CAYUGA—Cynthia Weeden is a woman with many talents, which she was recently recognized for by the Women’s Executive Network after placing in the top 100 of BMO Entrepreneurs in this year’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women contest.

Weeden may be getting recognized on the national stage today, but her roots begin in South Cayuga. Playing Sonia in a production of Godspell at Dunnville Secondary School and participating in the Dunnville Legion’s yearly public speaking contest were among her youth experiences that helped her hone the speaking skills that would prove so valuable in her career: “For my career, I wanted to become an actress/singer/pianist, or the Prime Minister,” she said of her aspirations at the time.

After graduating, Weeden moved to Toronto, where she graduated from the Radio and Television Arts program at Ryerson in 1990: “Jobs were very scarce, and pay was light, so I worked multiple gigs.”

One of those gigs was helping a startup software company, LANSource, launch their marketing plan: “They gave me a ticket to travel the world at conferences, with a focus on building partnerships. I had found my path: business, technology, and global relationships.”

From there, Weeden took on a role running the Canadian branch of European company Opalis Software, with the local branch becoming the new head office and becoming so successful it was later acquired by Microsoft. It was around this time, 16 years ago, that Weeden launched her company, FutureShield: “For the first time with no boss, board, or investors, I could do it all my way. Not just for profit, but also for the greater good and with a focus on doing the right thing.”

Weeden works with the leaders in security and emergency management in both government and private industry, using technology to help keep everyone safer. FutureShield provides management dashboards and advanced mapping systems for communications and reporting. 

Some of her significant accomplishments include lobbying the CRTC to mandate that wireless internet carriers support a public wireless alerting system, now known as Alert Ready; working with the Canadian Olympic Committee, providing technology to help keep Team Canada safe; and working with first responders using 3D virtual reality-based command training. 

Weeden said it was a huge honour to be recognized for the award: “Never in those days back on Lake Erie would I have guessed in my craziest dreams that this would ever happen. You really don’t know your path. All you know is when an opportunity is placed in front of you, you can reach out and grab it, or you can choose not to. Left or Right. A or Z. This award means that my instincts are usually correct and my good choices have allowed me to give back. I look forward to speaking with and mentoring other women in the coming year and making the most of this amazing opportunity.”

She noted that despite progress in recent years, the landscape still presents many challenges for women in business: “I thought things were getting better but the Mom Gap is real. I didn’t have a child until into my 40s with a successful business of my own, so it was not a concern. Then the Mom Gap was compounded by the COVID lockdown gap and now we see many women leaving the workplace, and the fact that the majority of the small businesses that will never open their doors again were owned by women.” 

She concluded, “My advice for female entrepreneurs? Look for the nooks and crannies, the niches, the things others don’t seem to see. Then fill the gap with your vision.”

Congratulations to Weeden, just one of the many strong women who hail from right here in Haldimand County.

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