Paulina Cameron

Forty under 40 winner 2019; CEO, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Age 32

Chung Chow photo

The idea for a female-focused business network came to Paulina Cameron when she was attending a lot of events as a University of British Columbia student.

“All the events that I was attending, there was maybe a token female speaker on a panel –maybe,” said the CEO of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE).

She and some peers got together to envision what a conference with an all-female lineup of speakers might look like. Three months later, 350 people attended their conference at Hotel Vancouver where all panellists, speakers and mentors were women. From there, Young Women in Business (YWiB) was born.

“For a lot of young women, it was the first leadership platform they ever had,” said Cameron, who founded YWiB in 2008. 

Over seven to eight years, Cameron expanded YWiB from a membership base of 25 to more than 2,200 across Canada when she left in 2015. 

Around the time she was creating YWiB, Cameron was also completing her fast-tracked chartered accountant designation while working for KPMG full time. 

She spent about five years with KPMG’s Vancouver office and was recognized with KPMG Canada’s national leadership award in 2010.

“I quit KPMG cold turkey,” said Cameron, who received the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s inaugural Wendy McDonald Award in 2015. “I kind of had my eyes set on something a little more diverse and a bit broader in the business community.” 

After freelancing for several months, Cameron joined Futurpreneur Canada. In three years as regional director for Western Canada, she oversaw the lending of about $8.8 million annually to new small-business entrepreneurs in B.C., Alberta and Yukon, and helped raise the number of entrepreneurs supported through the organization’s financing and mentorship program by 110% annually over three years. She was also the youngest member of Futurpreneur’s national leadership team.

At the start of 2019, Cameron joined FWE as its CEO. She’s looking forward to expanding the organization.

“We’re really keenly focused on reaching women all across Canada.”

Birthplace: Poland

Where you live now: Vancouver 

Highest level of education: CPA, CA designation 

Currently reading: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer and Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas

Currently listening to: Anything by Lizzo and Billie Eilish 

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: An airline attendant 

Profession you would most like to try: Running a retreat centre with food sourced from the land 

Toughest business or professional decision: Returning to work four months after having a baby while my husband stayed home with our two children 

Advice you would give the younger you: Carving out your own path and figuring out your own life and work flow will feel incredibly challenging and deeply rewarding. It will be worth it, so surround yourself with the people that will be there through it with you

What’s left to do: So much, and there is so much at stake right now. It feels like there has never been a more important time to work on issues that matter most


Join us to celebrate the 2019 Forty under 40 Awards on January 30, 2020, at the Westin Bayshore. For tickets and event information visit