View Royal resident Julie Atkinson

West Shore-connected workshop leaders look to help women build confidence

Tickets still available for upcoming Victoria Women in Leadership conference

Empowering women is a central theme in next week’s Victoria Women in Leadership – Creating Your Success Story conference, hosted jointly by Investors Group and Bridges for Women.

Two presenters leading workshops during the two-day event (May 8 and 9) come at the issue with different approaches, but have similar hopes for the outcome for participants.

Darlene Oudot, a registered financial planner at Investors’ Langford office who earned a Masters in Business Administration from Royal Roads University, considers herself a self-made woman. She built a successful career after being divorced 20 years ago and says women often face challenges unique to their gender.

Women are often the primary child care giver, and often are also faced with caring for aging parents, she says. “Those things don’t go away just because you’re alone. It’s a different walk for women.”

That said, Oudot, who leads the Money and Women workshop at the event, says it’s critical that women find ways of becoming empowered rather than feeling like victims. Her workshop aims to teach women to “make money their friend” and better understand the concept of financial risk management.

View Royal resident Julie Atkinson is a registered nurse who has worked in the area of body image for more than 25 years, in the area of plastic surgery. Through her company, New Look New Life Consulting, she works with clients on finding their strength within, as well as offering cosmetic and non-surgical procedures.

While some clients choose a surgical route to improve their personal outlook, she says, much of her counselling of women involves attempting to change their mindset about their value and potential.

“I’ve been mentoring one on one with Bridges clients for about eight years now,” says Atkinson, whose workshop is called Busting Your Own Beliefs. “For many women it’s become a regular pattern of, ‘if I could just get rid of this limiting belief.'” After some discussion around the room, and finding out such thoughts are not uncommon, it becomes more about teaching women to put a plan into action that helps eliminate such thinking, she says.

“It’s about helping people own their strengths inside.”

The conference begins Friday at 6 p.m. (May 8) with a panel discussion and Q&A session featuring Canadian marketing legend Janet Kestin, co-founder of the Swim creative leadership lab; indigenous entrepreneur, former First Nation chief and current Green party candidate Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi; and Black Press Greater Victoria group publisher Penny Sakamoto.

A networking session and trade show is also on tap for the evening, followed the next day by five workshops. Other topics include using intuition to get ahead, story-telling as a tool in business and reconnecting with your feminine essence.

The conference takes place at Camosun College, 3100 Foul Bay Rd., room 216. Tickets are $75 plus tax and are available at

For more information, find the event on Facebook or call 250-634-7221. All proceeds go to Bridges for Women.

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