International Women's Day Profile - IPIC Secretary - Heather Mueller
Marked annually on March 8th International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Participation is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements and rally for women's equality. This year's campaign theme is ‘Break the Bias,’ whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field. In celebration of this day IPIC will highlight prominent women members who are just some of the many incredible women within the IP profession.
Heather Mueller, Executive Vice President, Intellectual Property – NCS Multistage Inc., IPIC Secretary
Heather was initially exposed to the idea of a career in intellectual property while in graduate school. Wanting to learn more, she volunteered in the University technology transfer office while still a student, and later worked in that same office as an IP Manager for several years gaining insight into the intersection of academia, IP, and industry. She eventually left her hometown of Winnipeg in 2002, relocating to Calgary to train as a patent agent. Over the next 10 years, she built her practice working with businesses of all sizes, primarily in the energy industry.
Heather’s enthusiasm and curiosity to go beyond the role of a service provider and explore the strategic value of IP with her SME clients led to a desire to more fully understand corporate innovation strategy. In 2012, Heather joined the in-house IP legal team at Suncor Energy, working directly with innovators and business leaders to further broaden her perspective and experience. By 2017 a former client, NCS Multistage, had grown from a small energy services startup to become a publicly traded company, and she joined them to develop and lead the execution of their IP strategy. Heather is now a member of the Executive team at NCS Multistage, and remains responsible for intellectual property strategy while also overseeing the corporate marketing function and providing leadership to ESG initiatives.
With a strong commitment to volunteerism and continuous improvement of the IP profession, Heather is currently serving in her fourth year as a member of the Board of Directors of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada and has been an active member on many IPIC committees for more than 15 years. Outside of her professional life, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, cycling, kayaking, and reading.
Why is equality, diversity, and inclusion important to the IP profession?
Working together successfully requires considering opportunities and challenges from many perspectives. Without including and equally considering each perspective, we can’t win. Be curious and consider what you’re missing out on by failing to be flexible and inclusive.
Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
Navigating the adventure of parenting and partnership with my witty and infinitely patient husband of 25 years.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Break the Bias” (Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field), what actions do you believe need to be taken in the IP profession to Break the Bias.
Expect, encourage, and normalize the prioritization of personal life, interests, and mental health for all employees. This starts with men and women in leadership setting the example. A rich life experience outside work builds energy, personal connection, empathy, and loyalty in the workplace.
What do you believe are the best ways individuals can challenge biases and inequalities to achieve change?
Be curious about people, their motivations, and their life experiences. Don’t assume the intention behind the actions of others.
What advice do you have for aspiring women IP professionals?
Stay open to opportunities. Develop strong relationships with other professional women so you can openly share your resources and questions with them and find ways to help them achieve their goals.
What will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders in the IP profession?
I hope and believe the next generation of women in IP will not need to be concerned with gender representation in the IP profession, but I do hope they will feel compelled to focus on other inequalities and challenges that limit access to Canadian innovation and entrepreneurship.