Notable met with Slice’s Real Housewives of Toronto ahead of broadcast to get to know the cast on a more professional level. What you may not see on The Real Housewives of Toronto is that each woman is successful in her own right, professionally and personally.

Ann Kaplan Mulholland is not a betch.

I grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. My parents told me I was adopted and that I was the product of an affair but, when I was 17 I learned that I did have a father and that he was in Hawaii. I found out his first name, flew to Hawaii and looked him up in a brochure. He was an entertainer.

How did you pursue your relationship with your father? 

It was interesting. My father who raised me adored me, and nobody was going to take his place, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a relationship with my birth father. He was an entertainer and he had another 12 children — it’s been interesting to get to know all of his dynamics, and to get to know all my half brothers and sisters.

Family is extremely important to me.

What is your professional life like?

I run a national finance company called Medicard. We finance medical, dental, veterinary procedures and consumer finance. We’re in 1500 locations across the country and have done close to a billion dollars in business. I founded the company 21 years ago and run 5 offices across the country. 

How did you learn how to be a leader? 

If you want to be in a leadership role you have to listen and criticize yourself. I have a lot of education and continue to take courses in leadership. I have mentors and people that I can go to saying “Hey, if I make this decision what do you think the effect will be?”.  I have to be open to those mentors, and choose the right ones — not “yes” people, but people I respect in that field I’m going to question. 

At what stage of your career when did you realize you needed a mentor?

I’ve needed a mentor throughout my whole career. When you’re starting out, find somebody that you trust. When you’re more established, you can ask for top business people’s time. I know that business people are very busy and I’ve learned to be very truthful. When I want someone’s time, I say exactly how much I need and make sure I leave with what I need. I’m either getting them to refer me to somebody or help me solve my problem personally. 

It sounds like you have a take away you need from every meeting, and you take the exact amount of time you need to get it.

Always have a take away and if you can’t get something from that meeting, you’ve met someone else who can be a contact later.

By the way, there is nothing that a woman cannot attain. I’m a woman of business in a man’s world. I believe that I am the only one at my level in the bank finance world, and it’s tough, but I go into every single meeting with a takeaway in mind. I stick to a plan, an agenda, and am a sales person at all times.  

I’m hearing from you that productivity is key. How do you keep so efficient so that you can be very productive at work?

Save the putting out fires for the really important stuff so you’re not constantly fixing things.

Every minute counts, and productivity depends on making every minute matter. Even at dinner with my children, I’m completely focused on my kids so the time counts. With employees, do what you can to work with really good people with valuable skill sets, and make them dependable and reliable. They’ll help free you up to do what you do best, and you can work collectively towards the same goal.  

I’d love to know some advice for you female entrepreneurs in Canada. If you have any resources you’d like to recommend, people or organizations. And if you don’t then just personal words of advice.
When I was building my business, I would look at different awards in my field and find out who had won them before me. I would research what they had done to win the award, and then use that as my path to win in the future. I would recommend MaRS Centre for Impact Investing to young entrepreneurial women in Canada. 

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