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Catherine "Kiki" Delaney is president of C.A. Delaney Capital Management Ltd.

JENNIFER ROBERTS/jennifer roberts The Globe and Mail

Chartered financial analyst Catherine "Kiki" Delaney, 60, founded her Toronto investment counselling firm in 1992 to provide independent investment management services to institutional and private clients.

She is president of C.A. Delaney Capital Management Ltd. which currently manages more than $1-billion in assets. Previously, she was a partner and executive vice-president of Gluskin Sheff & Associates, in charge of both private client and pension funds. Winnipeg-born and raised, Ms. Delaney is active in community work and serves on many boards, including the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation. She is a member of the Order of Canada. What does it take to be on the Top 100 list?

Hard work and determination. I've always worked hard and been pretty bloody minded. Those two combined with a healthy bit of good luck is what's behind my success.

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What was your breakthrough moment?

The major turn in my career came when I got the courage to leave the comfort of a successful firm and set up Delaney Capital. It was something I'd thought about for years, but what finally convinced me to take the plunge was the realization that there is no safety net in life. You live by your own wit, whether you're in a firm that has your name on the door or a firm with someone else's name on it. It was a scary decision, but one I've never regretted.

And the luck?

It turned out that the timing was fortuitous. A number of fantastic people joined me early on and we were lucky enough to get a mutual fund client right away.

At what stage of your career did you do that?

That was 17 years ago, halfway through the career I've had.

There are a lot of executive vice-presidents on this list, but not so many CEOs. Do you think it will be different in five years?

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I have a bit of perspective here because I've worked in the investment business for a long time and watched this whole thing unfold. When I started in the early 1970s, there weren't a lot of female executive vice-presidents or vice-presidents. So the fact that 35 years later, you've got this list of executive vice-presidents and vice-presidents who are female, is a very good thing.

I don't know if the Top 100 women are going to be populated by CEOs in five years, or 10 or 15. This is a work in progress. We have a tendency to beat ourselves up and say we haven't made any progress. Well, I think we've made a lot when you look at my history. When I moved to Toronto in 1972, there were almost no women in any kind of professional capacity in my particular industry. There were lots of women assistants but very few analysts, traders and portfolio managers. Today, there are lots. It takes time.

If it had been the Lehman Sisters instead of Lehman Brothers, would the outcome have been any different for the company?

[laughing]It's hard to know if Lehman had been populated by women whether they would have taken less risk. I'd like to think so, but I don't know that for sure.

Do women view risk differently?

I think so. I do. I tend to be guarded about risk - not that I'm not prepared to take it. I'm certainly prepared to take it. But I'm thoughtful, not reckless.

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Are you the same woman you were in high school?

In some ways I am and in some ways I'm not. I was the same person in that I studied hard and worked hard. My husband (Ian W. Delaney, Sherritt CEO and president) always says I was the person who sat at the front of the class. I didn't do that all the time. I didn't have an awful lot of confidence. I certainly didn't know that I wanted to have a career in the investment business.

How different are you?

The prime difference is a better understanding of who I am and a better acceptance of that person - and not beating yourself up so much for the things about you that you don't like.

Who was your best boss and why?

I have been blessed by some fantastic bosses. My first boss was a woman in Winnipeg who taught me two really important lessons: how to make your way in the investment business as a female, and the power of sheer determination. She was always feminine, but she was never prepared to roll over. She knew what she wanted and pursued it in a way that she was able to achieve it.

Best piece of advice you were ever given?

To go out, meet people and network. You've just got to know what's going on and you've got to know people.

That's hard for some people. Do you have any tips?

You can join various organizations or just call people up and say, "You may not know me, but I've heard about you. Can I buy you a cup of coffee?"

How do you integrate family and work in your life?

I'm a big believer in holidays. My kids are grown up now but when they were single digits and teenagers, holiday time was so important because both my husband and I were on the go all the time.

What's your support system?

I've got a great group of friends we call the Cinderellas - six women who are all professionals, including a couple in the investment business, but not all.

We go on wonderful trips together. I can call up any one of them at any point if I have an issue and they would be there for me. They're not judgmental - just a great support network.

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