Carolyn Gavin, Women
International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The theme for 2021 is “Women In Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World.”
None of us have been spared from the impact of the pandemic and during these many months of isolation and economic uncertainty our most vulnerable have needed support. Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada supports all Canadians affected by a brain tumour. Annually, I participate in the Brain Tumour Walk in support of my friend who’s Mom died of a brain tumour. To exemplify this year’s theme, I knew just the person to ask to feature in my blog.
Q+A with Susan Marshall, CEO, Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada
What inspires and motivates you in your leadership role as CEO?
I am inspired everyday by the patients and families affected by brain tumours. It is a privilege to be a part of their lives and to know that we have made a difference in their lives. No matter what they face each day, I want them to know they are not alone and we are here to help. I am equally inspired by the volunteers and staff who work so hard and give so much of themselves to bring hope and support to our community. The collective passion of everyone affected by brain tumours makes me proud and so very grateful to have this opportunity to be a part of it all.
What have been the challenges you’ve had to navigate due to COVID to support your team and people that you serve?
Our biggest challenge and our greatest reward during this time has been how we have adapted to supporting our community virtually and how our team has been bold and creative in finding new ways to let our community know they are not alone. We love spending time with our community and having to stop our in-person programs and services was hard. We are a caring, compassionate and collaborative team and although we adjusted to working from home very well, we miss being in-person with the people we serve, our volunteers and with each other. Our greatest reward has been the fact that we are now reaching more people in different parts of Canada as a result of our growth in virtual programs. We are growing in our mission and supporting our families where they are...at home.
What is your leadership style and has it changed this past year? And if so, how?
I describe my leadership style as a coaching style. Each person has their role and together we achieve great things for our community. I love working within a team of passionate and creative people. My role is to support the team in achieving the organization's goals while fostering an environment which encourages them to develop their skills and talents to do their best and be the best they can be. Caring for each other is huge for me. In the past year, we have found new ways to show how we care for each other and we have had fun too!
Being a woman CEO what challenges have you faced as your career has advanced?
I am very fortunate because I have many strong role models and mentors who over the years encouraged and challenged me. In my early career while I was learning and developing who I wanted to be as a leader, I was given opportunities to try new things and to fail as well. As my career progressed, I found that the more I learned, the more I wanted to take on and make an impact. As a woman in a CEO position, I have many roles and responsibilities and my greatest challenge is to find balance in my work and family life. I don’t think true balance is realistic for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do it all and do it well and I think other women are the same. We want it all! I am blessed with a husband who supports my passion in my work and makes family life fun and rewarding too.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want my legacy to be that I made a difference in people's lives and left the earth a better place than when I arrived. My passion to help the brain tumour community comes from my own family's experience and loss. The loss of my son, Brent, to a brain tumour has left a hole in my heart that can never be filled. If through my experience, I can help families know they are not alone, that is what I want people to remember.
Are you inspired? Isn’t Susan amazing? Thank you Susan!
Please join me and help support all Canadians affected by a brain tumour through support, information, education and research.
Please click on the link below and donate to the 2021 Brain Tumour Walk.
Thank you so much!