How Tara Wilson Promotes Empowerment

Tara Wilson, SVP and General Manager at Paysafe’s Income Access is a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Top 100 Award Winner. Here’s her story:

Defining powerfully empowered

Being powerfully empowered is a responsibility. This includes developing both internal and external relationships. When done successfully, it can help build a brand of integrity, trust and inclusion. As someone who advocates for those values in the workplace, I feel a responsibility to empower, encourage and inspire people in their professional and personal lives. I am one of the lucky individuals who’s had strong advocates in my career for guidance and support when I wanted to give up. Now, it’s my turn to pay it forward.

In previous work environments, it was challenging to be hopeful about long-term career prospects. I wasn’t around many women leaders. To paraphrase Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In author: “I didn’t necessarily believe I deserved a seat at the table. I had imposter syndrome.”

Lean In was an eye-opener for me. It was the first time imposter syndrome, which describes those believing that their achievements weren’t “earned”, was explained in a way that was digestible. Leaving behind that mindset required continuous learning and listening to other people’s stories.

Eventually, I understood and embraced the reasons behind my recognition as a leader: I had earned it by putting in the work. Paysafe recognized my potential and drive and saw me as a person that could add value to our organization because of my passion, experience and skillset. They further encourage me by supporting my continued development.

Empowering individuals

Starting out from a data entry level and working hard to get where I am today, I understand the importance of being down to earth, relatable and open. I’ve been fortunate to hold several positions throughout my career that helped nurture these traits. Those experiences fostered a level of sociability allowing me to easily find common ground with my team, understanding what they go through on the frontline. I strive to share my knowledge gained throughout the years via active mentorship. Currently, I mentor over 20 individuals. Anything I can do to help people evolve their approach to achieving their goals is gratifying.

Working with WXN

Being a Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders award recipient was humbling. Part of that honor included an off-road driving experience on rocky terrain with the other WXN winners. Coincidentally, that experience mirrored the obstacles we sometimes confront throughout our careers.

Moreover, spending time with the winners and WXN CEO Sherri Stevens can’t help but make you feel powerful. If this wasn’t enough, WXN recognized us during an exceptional awards ceremony and through continuous content marketing support thereafter. All to say, they’ve done so much more than give me an award. They’ve connected me to other female leaders, shaping us as advocates for one another and future leaders. If you’re not already a WXN member, you should look at becoming one!

Leadership

The platinum rule, “do unto others as they would want done unto them,” is a rule I abide by in my day-to-day life. For a long time, leaders communicated with others using the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” which I don’t believe is as impactful.

Good leaders understand individuals’ personalities, needs and communication style, which should be reflected when delivering feedback. I strongly believe that the way to get the best employee performance is to treat them the way they need to be treated and not the other way around. Kim Scott’s Radical Candor is a great resource on that topic.

A career-defining moment

In my past, I was asked to speak to vendors to sort out a costly business issue. The call included senior members at a former company (all men besides me). I began talking through my research, when I was interrupted by someone who commented that I shouldn’t “nag” the vendors to make my point. This prompted laughter from all on the call, completely deflating my morale. While I was still able to finish speaking, it was a defining moment in my career because it was finally clear that my contributions to the company weren’t appreciated. In that moment, I decided to move on.

Oftentimes, individuals go through experiences where they must make a similar decision. From my viewpoint, if you’re engaged, trying your hardest and producing quality work, but are not being seen or heard, you must evaluate if the leadership and work culture is a right fit for you.

D&I plans for 2020

Organizational diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives welcome employees’ unique traits. As a Paysafe D&I committee member, I believe that everyone deserves a voice. Those voices extend beyond women in business and include people with both visible and invisible characteristics like age, disability, race, sexual orientation and more.

My plans in 2020 are to elevate those around me by continuing to drive change and having the difficult conversations that may arise along the way.

Tara Wilson, SVP and General Manager at Paysafe’s Income Access is a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Top 100 Award Winner. She has been recognized as Canadian woman between the ages of 30 and 40 who has had successive leadership positions within her organizations and has proven a passion for learning and innovation.

2020 Top 100 Nominations are now open. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and nominate a powerful female or even yourself!


About Tara:

Tara Wilson, SVP and General Manager, Income Access (Paysafe Group)

Tara Wilson

2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders

Tara Wilson has almost two decades’ experience in the tech sphere and 16+ years’ expertise in operational leadership within the payments and marketing sectors.

Tara is both a mentor to others, helping them reach their maximum potential, and an advocate for Diversity & Inclusion, promoting the needs of women in the workplace and other frequently disempowered groups. In recognition of her achievements, Tara took home the 2018 Silver Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year in Canada.

 

Why You’re More Powerful Than You Think

When you hear the word “power,” what comes to mind? If you had asked me this question a year ago, I would have said a CEO, a politician, perhaps even a social media influencer. But after being named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, I have a very different perspective on power.

Last year when Accenture submitted my nomination for the award, I thought they got it wrong. Me, powerful? As Accenture’s Canada lead for inclusion and diversity, I was confident of my expertise, my relevance and a certain amount of influence. Powerful, however, was not a word I would have ever used to describe myself. Truthfully, it made me pretty uncomfortable.

So, what exactly does it mean to be powerful?

On Power

I asked my closest friends what power means to them. I heard a wide range of responses that can be boiled down to two categories:

  1. Legitimacy in a social structure such as a person’s position, status or rank. Powerful people have authority, agency and can effect change.
  2. Personal characteristics such as influence, credibility, discipline, confidence and respect from others.

My husband summarized it in four words – charisma, likeability, results and leadership. And then there’s the Wikipedia definition of power as “the capacity of an individual to influence the conduct (behaviour) of others.”

So, what’s my takeaway from starting a conversation on power? That there are as many different definitions of power as the number of people I asked and the places I looked. Interestingly, WXN’s perspective on power varies further by specifically pointing out that the top 100 most powerful women in Canada aren’t necessarily powerful because they carry a certain title, but because:

“They are resilient and strong. They inspire, learn and grow. They have faced professional and personal challenges and come out stronger. They are champions and advocates for others.”

Now this definition I can get behind.

Rethinking Power

If we think about power in terms of resilience, personal growth and advocating for others, then we all have power – or at least the capacity to have it. We’re no longer restricted by external factors such as whether that top position opens up, whether others believe in our potential or whether business is booming. Instead, power is fully within our control.

As I look at power through this lens, I realize that many people around me who I hadn’t previously thought of as particularly powerful in the traditional sense actually have enormous amounts of power. My parents are one example. They left the Soviet Union with me and my brother under extremely challenging conditions, rebuilt their lives in Canada and are strong and passionate advocates for people and causes they care about. They are not CEOs, politicians or social media influencers, yet their power is tremendous.

Similarly, each of WXN Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women have an enormous amount of power. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know many of them over the past few months, and their stories of personal strength, grit and empowering others are unmatched. I understand why each of them was selected, and why each is considered powerful.

Owning Your Power

“Powerfully empowered” is WXN’s 2019 theme for the Top 100 awards, which beautifully summarizes that every one of us has personal power. We are empowered to continue to grow, and we are especially empowered to advocate for others. Imagine a world where we all embrace the idea that advocating for others increases our personal power and the more we give back, the more power we gain.

One thought from WXN that particularly resonated with me is, “A strong woman stands up for herself but a powerful woman stands up for all of us.” Let’s stand up for others and let’s inspire, champion and advocate for those around us, for this is where our real power lies. Let’s own our power by continuing to learn and grow, share our experience with others and empower others through our actions and accomplishments.

If you already do this, then you’re more powerful than you think. And so am I.

Zoya Zayler, Canada Inclusion & Diversity Lead for Accenture, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders category for 2019. She has been recognized for her successive leadership positions within her organization and proven passion for learning and innovation.

2020 Top 100 Nominations open on International Women’s Day – March 8, 2020. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and nominate a powerful female or even yourself!


About Zoya:

Zoya Zayler is Canada Inclusion & Diversity Lead for Accenture.

Zoya Zayler

2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders

Zoya Zayler drives Accenture Canada’s inclusion and diversity (I&D) strategy and provides the organization with strategic direction to achieve its I&D goals. A thought leader in this space, she has empowered Accenture to turn inclusion and diversity commitments into actionable practices that have advanced inclusivity and resulted in sustainable change. Zoya was recognized as the 2019 Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion D&I Practitioner of the Year and one of Human Resource Director’s 2018 Top 22 Most Promising Young HR Professionals in Canada.

No Greater Force on Earth than Passionate Intent

I loved school. And fell in love with history. As a kid, and later a university undergraduate and graduate student I read chapter after chapter of the lives of great people who shaped us.

But so often voices were missing. For centuries women really didn’t get noticed…didn’t get written about….rarely appeared at all and when they did it was in supporting roles or cameos.

We’re living in a new era where we are noticed, are heard and are celebrated – not despite the fact that we’re women but because of it. It isn’t right, or fair to the amazing women that preceded us that this is a new era, but the point is that we’ve arrived.

I was beyond moved and in awe when I found out the company I get to keep with the other 99 powerhouse women receiving recognition this year, and the hundreds before them in years past. I am so appreciative that women have moved out of the margins of history onto, literally centre stage.

But the true power of the group that’s assembled through this award isn’t who we are as individuals, it’s what we represent as a collective. There is no greater force on earth than passionate intent. If we all collectively support and celebrate the accomplishments of women – in all of our diverse forms – not only will women rise, but we as a society will be better off.

The number of powerful positions out there may be finite. But power is not. I look forward to seeing what this group of women and the many around us do to plug in and use our positions of influence to affect positive change for years to come.

Sevaun Palvetzian, one of Canada’s leading experts in civic action, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the RBC Champions Category for 2018. She has been honoured because of the describable difference she has made to the advancement of women in the workplace.

On November 21, 2019, we will honour new women in the RBC Champions category. Click here to learn more about Top 100, as we celebrate these exceptional women. And don’t forget in 2020 to nominate a powerful female or even yourself!

 


About Sevaun:

Sevaun Palvetzian is Chief Executive Officer for CivicAction.

Palvetzian, Sevaun portrait

2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
RBC Champions

One of Canada’s leading experts on civic engagement, Sevaun Palvetzian has been CEO of CivicAction since January 2014. Under her leadership, CivicAction has focused on building inclusive cities with the launch of the CivicAction Leadership Foundation to change the face of leadership in our region and initiatives focused on youth unemployment and mental health in the workplace which level the playing field of opportunity and access. Throughout her career, Sevaun has advocated for new voices at the tables of influence including championing the next generation of leaders. During a decade of senior executive leadership within the Ontario Government she launched a strategy to attract and retain future generations of leaders which included the award-winning Learn and Work Program for at-risk youth and lead the team responsible for the new Trillium Park at Ontario Place. She has also held positions at the University of Toronto, the World Bank Group, and Presidential Classroom – a civic education organization in Washington DC.

A voice of influence and advocacy on many urban issues, Sevaun is frequently called on for print, radio and TV commentary.  She’s active in a range of community roles including serving as a member of the Premier’s Community Hubs Advisory Group, the Toronto Police Service Board Transformational Task Force, and as a member of Mayor John Tory’s Advisory Panel for International Hosting Opportunities. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, NPower Canada, Waterfront Toronto, and is a member of the Ivey Business School Leadership Council. She has an M.A in history from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed executive programs at the Ivey School of Business and Harvard School of Business.

We Are Stronger Together

People often ask me what it’s like to lead multi-million dollar campaigns. Fundraising is a lot more than the ask, but there’s no doubt that it requires confidence and self-awareness to be able to sit down with an individual, or in front of a committee, and make a multi-million dollar pitch. As a woman, and one often much younger than the people on the other side of the table, it can be tremendously challenging. My work as president of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation has led me to cultivate skills I hadn’t anticipated honing. In my work today, I must be strong, bold and composed. I must not look away, I must be unflinching.

My career began in journalism, and from there I worked in provincial politics, where in a short time I was promoted to Associate Chief of Staff and Political Advisor to the then health minister. In 2005, I moved into a management role at the MUHC, and my work in strategic development and marketing in the health care domain took off in earnest.

Working in a hospital setting is certainly unique. Simply walking to a meeting, I pass patients being prepped for surgery, people on their way to an appointment where they will receive a life-altering diagnosis, or a new mother leaving from her latest round of chemotherapy. That ever-present essential human drama underscores the work I do, and it reminds me why I strive for excellence each and every day.

I am proud of being recognized as a TOP 100 Award Winner. When I learned that I had been selected, I was initially surprised, but I allowed myself a brief moment to feel the power that comes with recognition like this. There have been times in my career, in my life, where I have felt powerless, and to be named powerful, one of the 100 most powerful in the country, is emboldening.

It’s not for myself though that I feel a quickening in my stomach or my spine straightening just a slight bit more, it’s for the women around me every day, the women I pass on my way to the office, my girlfriends, my own daughter, my mother. This achievement, this honour, is for all of us.

Because, we are stronger together.

When women run companies, more women get promoted to senior management positions. When women sit on corporate boards, there is a diversity of opinion and perspective that was previously lacking. When women run for public office, more women vote, and little girls imagine themselves as leaders in their own right.

When we highlight the achievements of some women, we help all believe more is possible.

We are pleased to have Julie as a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Category as well as a contributor and speaker at our events throughout the year. 

Do you know a female in Canada who deserves to be recognized for her contributions? Click here to learn more about our Top 100 Nominations and how to nominate yourself or someone else. It’s free!

 


About Julie:

Julie Quenneville is President of McGill University Health Centre Foundation.

Quenneville, Julie portrait

2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders

Julie Quenneville is President of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation, which supports patient care, teaching and research at the MUHC, one of Canada’s top three research hospitals.

Since assuming the leadership of the MUHC Foundation in October 2015, Julie has spearheaded a transformation of the charitable organization resulting in a 60 per cent increase in annual revenue and a drop in the cost ratio from 22 per cent to 16 per cent. Last year alone, the Foundation’s donor community grew by one quarter.

Prior to her career in philanthropy, Julie joined the political cabinet of Quebec’s then Minister of Health and Social Services, Philippe Couillard. Within a year, she was promoted to Associate Chief of Staff. She ran Couillard’s Montreal office, and was responsible for steering key health legislation such as the new national policy for mental health services, the ban on smoking in all public spaces, access to services for English-speaking and cultural communities and the public health portfolio.

Julie’s most sensitive dossier was the provincial government’s campaign to save the Shriners Hospital of Canada. Shriners announced its intention to move the country’s only hospital from Quebec to Ontario in 2003. For two years, Julie coordinated the campaign to save the Shriners which involved high profile decision makers including the Premier of Quebec, the Mayor of Montreal, and the some of the city’s leading institutions, including the MUHC, McGill University, and Montreal’s Chamber of Commerce as well as many business leaders. The victory, which was deemed impossible two years prior, was announced in 2005.

Julie proudly serves on the Board of the Banff Forum and the University Club of Montreal. She was previously on the Boards of Lakeshore General Hospital and Cheerleading Quebec. For over a decade, she volunteered for AMCAL Family Services, the YMCA and The Becket Players, a federally chartered, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the performing arts in Montreal’s West Island.