October 16, 2020
Women in Leadership Spotlight Series Part 3: C. Esther De Wolde
Statistics show that women account for 40% of the workforce and continue to contribute to world economic development. However, studies reveal that 55% of women do not believe they possess adequate entrepreneurial skills and tend to second guess themselves compared to their male counterparts.
Manning Elliott focuses to improve this statistic and elevate women’s leadership in business. As such, an initiative of the firm’s Women, Wealth, and the Future Committee aims to highlight and demonstrate how women are growing, thriving and succeeding in the economic world through our Women in Leadership spotlight series.
Our spotlight series highlights five inspiring and successful women in leadership. Our second spotlight is C. Esther De Wolde, CEO and Co-Founder of Phantom Screens Solutions. Read about her story below.
C. Esther De Wolde and the Pursuit of Personal Growth
C. Esther De Wolde, CEO and Co-Founder of Phantom Screens Solutions in Abbotsford, places a great deal of value in pursuing personal growth in every facet of life. She pinpoints her late teens as the beginning of her success as a woman in business.
“It was about me at a younger age discovering my purpose and living out my values to pursue that purpose,” said De Wolde.
Whether it’s her business life or her personal life, De Wolde lives by three rules: honor God, enhance the lives she touches, and pay-it-forward.
“If I stick to that, then that to me is achieving success.”
De Wolde originally set out to be a veterinarian, but her high school chemistry grades were too low for the entrance requirements at UBC. Nevertheless, De Wolde had always been good at accounting, so she pursued her CPA credentials and obtained her CGA in 1989.
De Wolde began her CPA career in public practice. The firm she worked for, at that time, had a client that required auditing services and De Wolde, the youngest CPA at the firm, was assigned the job. While De Wolde was on fieldwork, she gained a great rapport with the clients. Her work and knowledge made an impactful impression on the clients, which led to them offering her a job as the head of their franchise accounting department. De Wolde was only 24-years-old.
After working together for four years, De Wolde and her bosses stumbled upon a screen product. Soon her bosses became her business partners.
“And, the rest is history,” she said.
De Wolde says that a great deal of progress in her career has been unintentional.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but I didn’t set out to pursue power, fame or money. Not that I have those things. My point is it is important for me to keep my humility in check, always lead with a servant heart, and stay curious.”
Looking back on her long career as a CPA, and then as a CEO, De Wolde says she’s succeeded largely in part to life coaches. She has never asked for a raise or a promotion and decided to let her actions speak for themselves. De Wolde believes that more opportunities were given to her because of that.
Being a woman in the business world
Being a woman in business always comes with hurdles. De Wolde had to endure ‘Me Too’ — sexual harassment — moments over the years.
“To me, it was a really important lesson to have boundaries because you are of the opposite gender.”
De Wolde says she has never had to endure these issues with her colleagues.
“I was blessed with people, like my business partners who are all male, who never looked down on me because I was female. They gave me opportunities and judged me based on my attitude and my performance rather than my gender.”
De Wolde wants other women in business, especially those who are young and climbing their own ladders, to focus not just on achieving success, but taking care of themselves as well.
“Don’t get into the rut of thinking ‘either/or,’ instead, think ‘and.’ Don’t think that it’s kids or a career. Think how you can do both kids and a career, if that’s what you want. Find the third option in life. Live within your means, but always be generous.”
To read our other Women in Leadership spotlights, visit our blog.