Book Launch – Nerve: Lessons On Leadership From Two Women Who Went First


Wednesday September 29, 2021

4.30pm - 6.00pm PDT

In-person and online event
(Open to everyone. Registration required.)

Jack Poole Hall
Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre
UBC Vancouver Campus

Watch the event recording here



Join co-authors, Dr. Martha Piper and Dr. Indira Samarasekera, in-person and online, in celebrating the publication of Nerve: Lessons on Leadership from Two Women Who Went First. In this book, the former university presidents provide their candid and insightful perspectives on the dilemmas and opportunities women confront as they take on leadership positions.

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Vancouver, the event will be moderated by Prof. Moura Quayle, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs. Through moderated discussion and audience Q&A (via Slido), the authors will share their personal and professional stories, offering guidance for leaders of every age and at every stage of their career.

Connected with the theme of supporting junior faculty, and cultivating leadership pathways, this event is also the first session of the second cohort of Maximizing Impact - a program to support junior faculty members at UBC. 

Book sales and signing will take place at the event – to buy your copy in advance, please visit:

Dr. Indira Samarasekera, Dr. Martha Piper, Dr. Naznin Virji-Babul, & Prof. Moura Quayle at the Nerve book launch event on Sept. 29, 2021


A recording of the event can now be viewed here


A candid, smart, and insightful account from two women pioneers, with foreword by the Right Honorable Kim Campbell, P.C.

Martha Piper and Indira Samarasekera had vastly different career paths on their way to becoming the first (and so far only) female presidents of two of Canada’s largest and most respected research universities, and directors of some of the nation’s largest market cap companies. But what they had in common was their gender, their willingness to take risks when leadership opportunities presented themselves, and a work ethic second to none. It was not always easy, pretty, or fair, but it was always the result of choosing to answer the call to lead. A call that in the authors’ view, too many women still turn away from.

Released September 14, Nerve is a must-read for anyone who is leading today, considering leading, or thinking about life after leading. To purchase, go to



Martha Piper served as the first woman president of the University of British Columbia and has been a director of the Bank of Montreal, Shoppers Drug Mart, and TransAlta Corporation. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she was born in Lorain, Ohio, and lives with her husband, William Piper, in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Indira Samarasekera served as the first woman president of the University of Alberta and is a director of Magna International, TC Energy, and Stelco, and has served as a director of the Bank of Nova Scotia. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.