In Conversation with Canada's Most Powerful Woman
Wednesday, March 8th marked 2017's annual International Women's day. I got the wonderful opportunity to start my women's day off by interviewing one of Canada's Most Powerful Women, Anne Giardini.
Anne is an executive, writer, lawyer, corporate director and a chancellor at Simon Fraser University. Accredited with noble awards like the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and named one of Canada's 25 most influential lawyers, Anne has established an influential figure across many professional platforms. And I'm not going to lie, I felt like I was walking in to meet someone of royalty when I approached the President's Office in the heart of Vancouver at Simon Fraser University for my early scheduled meeting with Anne. Also, I must say that I envy this woman so much for her efficiency. She had just gotten back from an international conference the night before and was able to squeeze the interview in the next morning at 9am (total time management goals lol!!).
Here is the interview that followed:
1. What is the best and worst decisions you've ever made with respect to your career?
"Oddly enough, one of the best decisions I made was who I married. I married an accountant which was good because I didn't have an accounting background so I had someone to ask the accounting and commercial questions at home. But also, I married someone who was very supportive of my career. You don't have to marry an accountant or business person but your partner should be someone that encourages you and points out your strengths when you're feeling weak. You could marry an artist or someone who stays home and looks after the kids or anyone! But who you don't want to marry is someone who constrains you, holds you back or cuts off pieces of you. The worst decision for my career was thinking for a long time that I could only be one thing. I became a lawyer when I was about 25, and I kept having this feeling that lawyers have to be lawyers all the time! There were things that I wanted to do apart from that, I wanted to write my books, I wanted to teach, I wanted to continue to learn and do so much more. And it took me probably about 10 years to realize that you don't have to be one-dimensional."
2. Name a woman who inspires you and why?
"Well, you probably hear this a lot, but the one woman who inspires me the most is my mother. She passed away 13 years ago but I still remember her for her many wonderful attributes. She wrote books and sold millions of them, she wasn't a businesswoman but did have a creative enterprise. She was brave in a way that wasn't obvious. She was quietly and steadfastly true to herself all the time. She had a solid core and was a good listener. There isn't an hour that goes by without me wanting and wishing to be like her, be truer to her vision and ultimately be truer to my own vision. She was extraordinary. I haven't known anyone like her since, and I miss her all the time but what a great and good fortune to have had her as my mother."
3. How do you manage a good work-life balance?
"I have been married for almost 30 years and have three grown kids in their twenties. A balance for me has always been having help. We had a series of nannies and housekeepers when the kids were little which allowed both my husband and I to pursue our professional careers. It made our lives instantly easier. I recognize that not everyone has the ability to pay extra for help but everyone has the ability to look around them and say 'am I taking on too much? Is there something I can delegate? Is there something I don't have to do? Or is there something I can make easier for myself?'. There are some days where it all falls apart and there is no balance and some days are perfectly balanced but usually the days are somewhere in the middle. The middle is where the balance is."
4. What advice would you give to women who are currently in the primary stages of entering their career and a new workplace?
"The advice I would give to a young woman is confidence, have confidence in yourself. You've been hired for a reason, you've been brought on the team for a reason and you're in the door for a reason because somebody saw something in you that they liked. Play your strengths, if you know someone in your office who can tell you how you're doing then ask them. Be brave and ask for feedback often. And bare in mind that some people will give you advice and some people wont. You're going to have to ignore that little voice in your head that's full of negativity, you have to pretend like it's not there to acheive a great level of success."
5. If you could meet the 20 year old you right now for just 2 minutes, what would you tell her?
"Haha! I would start by telling her not to get a couple of those bad perms and that bad haircut! In some ways I feel like I already did have my 57 year old voice inside my head back then. I knew in some ways what I wanted. I wanted to have a family, I wanted to have a long marriage, I wanted to have meaningful work, I wanted to learn, I wanted to write books, I just knew what I wanted. In somethings I was very deliberate about 'getting and doing' but I was also opened to the unexpected. I feel like I was already listening to my older self. Nevertheless, everything came as a learning experience and formed who I am today."
A huge thank you to Anne and everyone else who made this interview and my women's day video possible!
I hope this post inspires not just women but everyone reading it to push themselves and strive for success and whatever it is that they are passionate about!
Have a fab week!