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Edwina Dunn, who transformed the consumer landscape with the creation of the Tesco Clubcard, has always been driven by a desire to make change and create an impact on the world around her.

Best known as co-founder of dunnhumby, the global consumer insights business, Dunn more recently founded The Female Lead, a non-profit project dedicated to making women's stories more visible and offering alternative role models to those often seen in popular culture.

"There are many ways to be successful," says Dunn. "I am really passionate about women taking a lead in their own lives."

Women supporting women

Dunn knows what it's like to work in a male-dominated industry, and how it can erode a woman's confidence.

She has always believed women need to find success on their own terms.

"I think it's really important that you're true to yourself," Dunn says. "Regardless of whether it's a business passion or a creative passion, I'm a huge believer that if you're good at what you love, the more you do it, the better you get."

Too often, Dunn says people, and in particular women, are persuaded to pursue a career path or make a decision without doing what they feel is best in their gut. "Look to you and your skill first," she says.

Forging a path for female entrepreneurs

Dunn credits her entrepreneurial spirit to her first job at CACI, an American professional services and IT company, where she became its youngest-ever vice president in charge of marketing. "I learned fantastic things at a very young age," she says.

After nearly a decade at CACI, Dunn and her husband Clive Humby, who she met during her time at CACI, started their own venture dunnhumby, which is best known for developing the Clubcard. The team helped Tesco double its market share in little more than a year before the supermarket chain bought the company in 2011.

Dunn and her husband went on to create the data intelligence firm Starcount and she launched The Female Lead to support and to inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.

"The project springs from the things I'm most passionate about: Sharing stories of inspirational and amazing women to make sure we have more role models out there," Dunn says in a video on The Female Lead website.

Dunn believes there's too much focus in society on the same celebrity women. "These are amazing women, but we wanted to share more stories and to show greater diversity."

The stories The Female Lead tell range from women who have broken into male-dominated industries to those who fled for their lives in difficult political regimes. Dunn's goal is to tell stories of women from all backgrounds and careers and to show the next generation of women the different ways in which they can find success and personal fulfilment.

Growing a network of female founders

According to data from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), commissioned by RBC Wealth Management, 26 percent of HNW women in the UK are business owners. Many are also leveraging their success to give back to their communities, similar to Dunn's vision with The Female Lead.

Sixty-five percent of female business owners in the UK say it's important their businesses have a positive economic impact on the communities in which they operate—maintaining jobs and contributing to local economic growth, for example.

The new face of wealth and legacy survey of 1,051 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), including 207 respondents in the UK, explores how the meanings of legacy and wealth are being redefined across regions, genders and generations.

While running a business inevitably involves some setbacks, Dunn says having conviction in what you're doing is key to pushing forward. "It has to be something you really want. You have to be a very firm believer in what you're doing because you will get knock backs all of the time and people will challenge you," Dunn says. "You have to be robust and in it for the journey."

Also, don't try to do it all alone. Dunn recommends regularly asking others with experience for advice along the way. "Asking for advice isn't a weakness. I think it's quite the opposite. On the whole, people are very generous and willing to share," she says.

Working to help inspire and grow the number of female founders is an important strategy for RBC, says Simon Smales, managing director, RBC Wealth Management. Areas of focus include creating events to help bring together female entrepreneurs and adding more female relationship managers at RBC to support them and their business journey.

"We see it as a growth area and one we can look after and cater to," says Smales. "We are keen to do all we can to help women in business. We spend a lot of time working to understand their goals for their business and family, and how they want to pass on their wealth."

Alexandra Murphy, associate director, relationship management at RBC Wealth Management in London, says female entrepreneurs often prefer to talk to other female founders about topics such as financing and operating challenges, including how to attract and retain top talent.

"The networking helps them with all of their challenges," Murphy says. "It's all about being able to share insights with one another and help each other out."

The vision of Vicki Saunders, founder of the global non-profit SheEO, is of a similar vein. Members - or activators - in the all-women network, donate funds to support other female entrepreneurs.

"When women come together, it's amazing what can happen," Saunders says.


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This publication has been issued by Royal Bank of Canada on behalf of certain RBC ® companies that form part of the international network of RBC Wealth Management. You should carefully read any risk warnings or regulatory disclosures in this publication or in any other literature accompanying this publication or transmitted to you by Royal Bank of Canada, its affiliates or subsidiaries.

The information contained in this report has been compiled by Royal Bank of Canada and/or its affiliates from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation or warranty, express or implied is made to its accuracy, completeness or correctness. All opinions and estimates contained in this report are judgments as of the date of this report, are subject to change without notice and are provided in good faith but without legal responsibility. This report is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. Past performance is not a guide to future performance, future returns are not guaranteed, and a loss of original capital may occur. Every province in Canada, state in the U.S. and most countries throughout the world have their own laws regulating the types of securities and other investment products which may be offered to their residents, as well as the process for doing so. As a result, any securities discussed in this report may not be eligible for sale in some jurisdictions. This report is not, and under no circumstances should be construed as, a solicitation to act as a securities broker or dealer in any jurisdiction by any person or company that is not legally permitted to carry on the business of a securities broker or dealer in that jurisdiction. Nothing in this report constitutes legal, accounting or tax advice or individually tailored investment advice.

This material is prepared for general circulation to clients, including clients who are affiliates of Royal Bank of Canada, and does not have regard to the particular circumstances or needs of any specific person who may read it. The investments or services contained in this report may not be suitable for you and it is recommended that you consult an independent investment advisor if you are in doubt about the suitability of such investments or services. To the full extent permitted by law neither Royal Bank of Canada nor any of its affiliates, nor any other person, accepts any liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this report or the information contained herein. No matter contained in this document may be reproduced or copied by any means without the prior consent of Royal Bank of Canada.

Clients of United Kingdom companies may be entitled to compensation from the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme if any of these entities cannot meet its obligations. This depends on the type of business and the circumstances of the claim. Most types of investment business are covered for up to a total of £85,000. The Channel Island subsidiaries are not covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme; the offices of Royal Bank of Canada (Channel Islands) Limited in Guernsey and Jersey are covered by the respective compensation schemes in these jurisdictions for deposit taking business only.


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