How has your story motivated you on days when there seems to be nothing to keep you going? 

We all have those days when life seems more challenging or everything feels like a roadblock. Whenever I get one of those, I reflect on my parents’ immigrant struggles in Canada. I think about what they overcame and that instills in me a sense of resilience and determination. In a way, I feel like my own journey is an extension of that experience. As a woman of color from a small town with little diversity, I’ve had to fight against entrenched bias and had to work harder than most to complete my Ph.D. and be able to speak on a TEDx stage and international platforms. So on particularly difficult days, I remind myself of every bit of adversity that I had to face before and rise above to keep me going.

In what ways, if any, did you have to pivot to ensure your vision was well executed? 

When I started research on my PhD study, my initial aim was to examine how popular artists like Drake, Justin Bieber, and Jessie Reyez shaped Canadian R&B in the digital age. But the more I learned, the more I realized how much deeper their impact was in representation, their unique contributions, especially in the context of national and cultural identities. To do justice to the subject matter I had before me, I had to pivot my approach to cover those aspects and broadened my work to include the historical input of lesser-known Canadian artists particularly those from immigrant backgrounds. This pivot extended my work up to seven years! But it also enabled me to offer a more comprehensive analysis and inclusive perspective, ensuring that the voices of marginalized artists were acknowledged alongside contemporary stars.

How do you showcase the empowerment of Women’s History Month every day? 

It’s very important to me to embody the spirit of Women’s History Month at all times. As a minority woman in academia and the marketing industry, I actively advocate for diverse representation in all areas of both my professional and personal spheres. Whether it’s through my research, speaking engagements, or interactions with colleagues and peers, I consciously seek to amplify the voices of women and other marginalized groups, celebrating their achievements and contributions to society. For example, this month I participated in a “Women in Tech” panel to highlight my intersectional struggles. By leading by example and fostering an inclusive environment, I hope to inspire others to embrace their own power and potential.

Who are some lesser-known female entrepreneurs from history that you admire and believe deserve more recognition? 

There are countless Black female artists from Canadian music history, all of whom I admire and discuss in my academic research includingJully Black, Deborah Cox, Eleanor Collins, Libery Silver, Michie Mee, and transgender artists Jackie Shane. These women faced immense discrimination and push back in white male-dominated industries. But they persevered and left a lasting impact on society and the music industry at large. Their stories serve as inspiration for aspiring artists and entrepreneurs, and I believe they deserve more recognition for their groundbreaking achievements.

Reflecting on your own experiences, what are some effective ways that male allies have supported you in your career journey? 

In my career journey, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had supportive male mentors. In academia and industry work, they have championed my work and advocated for my advancement. When I needed it, they offered support and guidance in navigating new work or academic environments that may otherwise be more welcoming of white men. Some have also provided opportunities for professional growth where it was necessary to actively confront biases and barriers within the workplace. Their consideration has been instrumental in my success, and I am grateful for their allyship.

How do you strike a balance between ambition and self-care as a woman in a demanding business environment? 

Striking a balance between ambition and self-care can be daunting, especially in today’s volatile business environment. But I am also acutely aware that it is necessary to prioritize self-care as an essential component of my overall well-being and success. This involves working out religiously to create space for self-reflection and mindfulness. I spend time with loved ones and set boundaries to ensure that I prioritize my family and friends. I recognize the importance of maintaining this healthy work-life balance in order to sustain my ambition and achieve my goals in a sustainable and fulfilling way.

Photo Credits: Magda Spurek Photography