Positive energy. That's one of many descriptions that come to mind upon meeting Deborah Rosati, President of RosatiNet. Upon meeting Deborah for the first time I was struck by the wonderful positive energy she exuded. She is filled with bright, light, positive energy and enthusiasm. And it's infectious. She is a brilliant woman with an obvious successful past as a CFO and Board of Director, but she is a most engaging, positive and approachable woman. We could have talked for hours. At the end of our conversation she gave me a hug. And that validated my motivation for this column; to create a meaningful connection with wonderful women.
Read on for more from my conversation with Deborah Rosati.
What do you do currently?
I just turned 50 and am at a wonderful junction in my life to be able to say I have had 30 years in my profession (Chartered Accountant). I’ve had a journey that has evolved in a very non-traditional way. I have had opportunities to explore and I have taken them all on. My current role is as an Independent Corporate Director (ICD) which is a profession unto itself and allows me to serve on Boards. It’s an oversight role that I provide to these organizations with this professional designation. It allows me to be professionally engaged and provides exposure to industries I might not have had the opportunity to be in otherwise. It gives me the flexibility to pursue other passions in life. I am fortunate to be able to make these choices now in my career and feed my passion. I haven’t worked the typical 9-5 Monday to Friday for 10 years.
What other passions are you pursuing?
I am currently involved in fashion, specifically Yoga apparel wear. I love yoga and I am actually a yoga teacher. It’s about finding comfort and peace with where you are in life. And I found yoga was therapy for me. It allowed me to go to my mat and find my state of mind. I love business , fashion and yoga. This is the first time in my 30 year career I have aligned all three. The yoga apparel company is called Karma Apparel and we are currently launching our 2012 Spring/Summer collection. I am a position in my life where my decisions are based on feeding my passions and going places I might not have gone before. I don’t feel I have to have a “job” at this point. I am very entrepreneurial and am finding fulfillment sitting on Boards, mentoring, presenting. And pursuing personal interests like Karma Apparel.
How did you get started with yoga.
I was introduced to yoga about 6 years ago by my sister and it went beyond just going to classes. I wanted to teach, and not that this would become my career, but it affords me opportunities and places to go. I am going to be teaching at a resort in Jamaica for two weeks in January 2012. I have the flexibility to do this in my schedule, which I didn’t always have. My boys are in University so I am an “empty nester” for the first time and am using my time for yoga. I have always been fit and interested in exercise. I find yoga spiritual and very fulfilling and I feel happier and healthier because of it.
Will you open your own studio?
No. At this stage of my life I don’t want anything that ties me down. I want to be able to have the flexibility to make decisions and go places as they are presented to me. I’m heading to Palm Spring this week for a Yoga convention and having free time lets me do all of these wonderful things.
I never went looking for opportunities, they found me
You sit on many Boards:
I am on the Board of Sears Canada. I am also on the Board of the National Ballet School. Corporately I get paid to be on Boards and I volunteer with not-for-profits. Initially I am asked to be on a Board because of my CA background and financial literacy, but now I’m asked because of my depth and strength in corporate strategy, financing and operations which speak to my business background.
Are Boards actively looking for women?
Yes. When looking at me as a choice for a Board member you get the financial literacy, exposure and experience in the tech sector (among other industries), my business and entrepreneurial background and I’m a woman. There are Boards looking to diversify and add capable, experienced women such as myself.
Debbie Weinstein is a prominent female who also sits on a number of Boards:
Yes, and I know Debbie well. We met in a professional capacity while at TimeStep. There were few women doing deals of that size and magnitude and we became friends. I hope to blaze the trail to help other women join boards; there were certainly women before me that blazed the trail and I’d like to do the same. Beverley Topping and Helen Kearns are two women that went out of their way to make introductions for me and helped pave the path. It’s a perfect stage for me at this point in my life to be a Corporate Director.
It is an honour of distinction to be on a Board.
Yes, it’s an invitation to be a member of a Board. You can’t put your resume out and hope to get a Board position. I am involved with “Women on Board” and I have headed up “Women in the Lead”. I’ve been fortunate to have taken leadership roles to give back in many ways. Governance around women on Boards is something dear to me and I am involved in different projects around this subject.
Do you have a circle of friends in the business community?
Yes. I am spending more and more time in Toronto and just recently was given a wonderful birthday lunch there by a group of women I have known on Boards, Committees and such over the last 15 years. I have a varied circle of influential people in my life, both men and women, particularly given my involvement in the tech sector in Ottawa.
Was TimeStep your first time being part of a large acquisition?
In 1989 I was working as a Controller in a company that was acquired by Newbridge. I was then in a very senior position at TimeStep during their acquisition by Newbridge. I was with TimeStep from the beginning; there were the three founders and myself.
I wanted to be a businessman like my dad
It sounds like yoga provides the peace of mind that matches your current state of mind.
Yes. I have more interests than just the business and corporate world, although I do tend to keep them separate. I tweet daily affirmations from my yoga site Shanti Living, and although my CV reads very corporate I have this wonderful outlet that allows me to fulfill personal interests and passions.
Tell me about your boys.
I have two boys ages 18 and 20. Two very loving, gentle boys that I adore. They were always an important part of my life. But from an early stage in their life they recognized I was a business person. They understood other mommies would make cookies and I would send the money (laughs). I remember that moment.
They are open and equal minded when it comes to their relationships with women. They are very good cooks and are very independent.
Are you boys business minded?
No. Both boys are very artistic, spiritual, very bohemian independent free spirits. They don’t need much in life. I always encouraged their creativity and independent thinking. I encouraged them to “be what you want to be, not what your parents think you should be.”
Favourite colour: poppy red. It’s vibrant, uplifting and passionate
Present state of mind: a sense of inner peace.
What are you like as a mom? Very kind and giving. And loving. People have told me I am too nice a mother. I just did what I felt was right. I never had a nanny so always made sure I was home when they were. They were an important and instrumental part of my life when I made my decisions. Dinner hour was a very important part of our lives. They knew dinner was 6pm and we were all expected to be there. I now have freedoms in life I didn’t always have, so now I make choices because I want that balance. I had a very loving, supportive family.
Where does your business drive come from?
I always said I wanted to be a businessman like my dad. People would laugh because I would say “businessman” but that’s how I defined it. He was a self made man and a business man. Both my parents supported the idea of “be who want to be; do what you want to do.” My mom also had her own business and was also very inspirational to me.