Wisdom: A Conversation with Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100™ Award Winner and 2018 Wisdom™ Mentor, Sara L. Austin
In today’s work culture where there is constant evolution and innovation, it is important to connect powerful women together to advise, empower and motivate the next generation. Because of this important aspect of career growth, the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) created our Wisdom™ Mentorship Program, which pairs mentees with Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100™ Alumnae, like Sara L. Austin.
WXN: Reflecting on your incredible journey from participant in the WXN Protegee program in 2014 to being recognized as a Canada’s Most Powerful Woman: Top 100™ Award Winner and Hall of Famer, can you describe how your journey was positively influenced through your affiliation with WXN?
SARA: I have had the tremendous honour of benefitting from the WXN’s Wisdom™ Mentoring Program, and it’s remarkable to look back on the trajectory as a Protegee in 2014, to being inducted into the Top 100™ Hall of Fame in 2017. The opportunity to take part in the Wisdom™ Mentoring program allowed me to benefit from the professional development of the learning modules, whilst also being mentored by a Top 100™ winner who encouraged and supported me to take big risks that led to huge changes in my personal and professional life that have led me places I never could have anticipated.
WXN: Thinking back to notable mentors that you have had in your personal and professional arc, can you describe the value those relationships produced for you during challenging periods of doubt or frustration?
SARA: The biggest benefit I’ve gained from mentors has been their faith in me, and their ability to see things in myself I didn’t think I was capable of. They helped me have the courage to step far outside of my comfort zone, and stood by me when I took great leaps. Knowing that they had my back and would stand with me no matter what helped me to achieve things I wouldn’t have imagined were possible.
WXN: As a successful female professional who has achieved so much, what advice would you give to aspiring females who are looking to engage a mentor?
SARA: Look for mentorship opportunities in unlikely places – sometimes the best mentors you can find are outside of your workplace and your professional domain.
Listen to the feedback and advice of others with an open heart. It can be hard to be vulnerable enough to hear both the good and the constructive feedback, and to see yourself through someone else’s eyes.
We can be incredibly hard on ourselves and filled with doubts – in those moments, sometimes it helps to fuel yourself with the faith that others have in you.
About the Women’s Executive Network (WXN)
WXN delivers innovative networking, mentoring, professional and personal development to inform, inspire, connect and recognize our global community of more than 22,000 women, men and their organizations. WXN enables our partners and corporate members to become and to be recognized as employers of choice and leaders in the advancement of women.
Founded in 1997, WXN is Canada’s leading organization dedicated to the advancement and recognition of women in management, executive, professional and board roles. WXN is led by CEO Sherri Stevens, owner of the award-winning, multi-million-dollar Workforce Management Company Stevens Resource Group Inc., which she established in 1990.
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Sara is the Founder & Lead Director, Children First Canada and Chief Executive Officer, Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre. A passionate champion for women and children and an established senior leader with 20 years of experience in the non-profit/charitable sector, Sara has led global advocacy campaigns and shaped major public policy efforts. Her advocacy on behalf of children resulted in the UN General Assembly adopting groundbreaking legislation. Through Children First, a national non-profit, Sara is on a mission to protect and empower Canada’s children. She was recently appointed CEO of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and also serves on the Board of Dalhousie University’s Alumni Association.