AWS Canada’s Women of Inspiration panel earns solid A+

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A women of inspiration panel was held at the headquarters yesterday AWS Canada Over 200 channel partners and customers in downtown Toronto were enthralled as three senior female executives discussed the assorted personal trials, workplace frustrations and ultimate successes each has experienced.

Held to showcase the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) International Women’s DayWhich will take place next Wednesday, the panel was moderated by Rosie Seth, the organization’s national channel leader, and featured Ruba Borno, vice president of worldwide channels and alliances with AWS, along with Rola Dagher, global channel head dell technologiesand Rania Llewellyn, President and CEO Laurentian Bank,

To say that each has led an extraordinary life is an understatement, and if any of the panelists were to write an autobiography — more on that later — it would certainly make compelling reading.

Each has overcome challenges as a result of world events in the regions where they were born and raised. Dagher, who is from a small Lebanese village and married at only 16 with a young daughter, was forced to flee to Cyprus with her infant child, in the back of a truck, during the beginning of the South Lebanon conflict. Went. Israel, which erupted in 1985. The two eventually made it to Canada where the second half of her life began.

Borno was born in Kuwait and both of his parents were from Palestine. Like Dagher, he experienced combat firsthand during the first Gulf War following the invasion of his native country by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces, which resulted in the short-lived conflict known as Desert Storm.

“When he invaded Kuwait, he said that anyone who harbored an American citizen would be a target. And one of my sisters was born in America and was also a citizen,” she recalled. Called and said, we have a departing plane and a one way ticket to America, do you want to seek political asylum and become a refugee. And we really had no other choice.

“My parents just packed up all of us – four girls under the age of nine – leaving everything, literally everything, because you couldn’t walk into a bank and take anything in the middle of a war. Couldn’t take it back, and immigrated to the United States. The only thing my parents had was their education.

Llewellyn, like Borno, was born in Kuwait, but she and her family had already moved to Cairo, Egypt, when Hussein’s forces arrived in their country. A gifted student, she finished high school at age 14 and began attending college american university in Cairo. Two years later, the Gulf War broke out and it was then that his family decided to emigrate to Canada and they settled in Halifax.

The fact that all three are Arabs was not lost on Dagher, who jokingly told the audience she was grateful to be able to start the tour first. arab women on stage before taking a more serious tone in describing what it was like in the early days of being a new Canadian.

“When I arrived here and couldn’t speak a word of English, people made fun of me, people doubted me,” she said. “But every time someone doubted me, I proved them wrong.”

According to a bio, that ability to push forward resulted in her “working with some of the brightest minds in the technology industry while honing their natural leadership style. She believes that no one achieves greatness in silos and that you It has to be learned, it has to be earned and it has to be returned.

What it comes down to, she said, is treating people the way they deserve to be treated, and providing them with opportunities to grow, as she experienced with at least three terrible bosses early in her career. did. The mistakes he made, Dagher said, “helped me understand what it’s like to be a leader.”

In the case of Llewellyn, the first female president of a chartered bank in Canada who, before joining Laurentian, held senior roles at Scotiabank, it was the age-old problem of being a woman working in a world of men, a The dilemma that began soon after began his career as a part-time teller in Halifax.

“The challenges and opportunities she experienced as both an immigrant and a woman in a male-dominated industry inspired her to build the bank she always wanted to work for,” in her bio. Having said. “With a culture that sees equality, diversity and inclusion as strengths and where everyone feels like they belong and have a chance to thrive.”

Self-awareness, she said, is an important attribute, and as a result, her goal in moving to Laurentian was to create an environment that was “inclusive.”

She recalled being in a meeting with male counterparts and being the only woman. “You say something and they ignore you. A guy says the exact same thing and it’s the best idea since sliced ​​bread.

“At one point, I was told I was too assertive, I was too aggressive, so I cut it back. Then I was told you’re not saying enough.

“I’ve said publicly, I’m building the bank I’ve always wanted to work for.”

The theme of inclusivity and helping others is also an important part of Borno’s leadership style. She recalled something from a previous executive position where she was about to walk on stage in front of thousands of people and give her first keynote speech.

Maniacally nervous and “completely devastated”, she received some sensible advice from the country manager of the organization she was working for 15 minutes before she was scheduled to walk on stage.

“He said, Ruba, ‘As you know, people want you to succeed, because they don’t want to come here and have a bad time. Nobody wants to have a terrible time at a keynote speech, nobody wants to have a bad time with you. Nobody really wants to waste the next six months of their life working on something that wasn’t worth it.’ And it really changed my mindset, really, I mean, it was a pivotal moment. Because I started thinking that they really wanted me to do well, because they wanted their time to be worthwhile.

“We can mutually work together to be successful, whether it’s a partner, a customer, or someone on my team.”

The panel concluded with Seth, who joined AWS in 2018, asking three executives to title their book, should they choose to one day write one.

Dager replied that it would be called being me, “I didn’t try to fit in,” she said of those early days of her working career, “because if I had tried to fit in, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

For Llewellyn, it read what appeared on a sweatshirt he received from a friend for Christmas one year: underestimate me it will be funwhile Borno would call it a book force multiplier, Which, in a business sense, recognizes “people achieving more than they thought they could”.

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