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Empowered Women Empower (And Inspire) Women: Meet Mandy Tan

January 28, 2020

Empowered Women Empower (And Inspire) Women: Meet Mandy Tan

When you add more women to any equation, there is always a return on equality.
At Smartbite Snacks we believe that a woman alone has power while collectively women have impact. Raising each other up and channeling the power of collaboration is truly how we’ll change the equation.

That’s why when Mandy from Women in Leadership reached out to us with the sponsorship opportunity, we quickly jumped on board. Women in Leadership (WIL) is a student organization where women are the majority, but men feel welcome and comfortable. WIL serves undergraduate and graduate students at the Schulich School of Business and focuses on enhancing the understanding and appreciation of women's role in business, while assisting members in reaching success in their chosen field.

We talked to Mandy about everything from the first woman she looked up to, her number one favourite place on Earth to how she practice being brave and manages doubt. 

 

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS

Personal mantra?
Things that are easy are never worth it, and things that are worth it are never easy 

Three key words to describe yourself? 
Honest, organized, driven 

Three items you can’t live without? 
My laptop, earphones, coffee

Fave snack?
Flaming Hot Cheetos 

Early bird or night owl? 
Definitely a night owl 

Favourite place on Earth? 
Kyoto, Japan 

 

 

What do you value most in others?
Integrity, kindness, open mindedness 

What do you value most in yourself?
Strong and upright morals and the conscious effort to be open and accepting of others 

One thing you’re afraid of?
Disappointing the people I care about 

Go-to songs? 
Be Alright (Dean Lewis), Sunflower (Post Malone), Best Part (H.E.R)

Biggest pet peeve? 
Slow walkers and people who chew with their mouth open 

Secret superpower? 
Knowing what the people close to me want before they know it themselves 

What keeps you sane?
Being organized and giving myself down time to relax and de-stress

 

 

ON A (KINDA) SERIOUS NOTE 

Hi Mandy! Thank you for chatting with us. Please introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Mandy! I’m a full-time student, part-time English teacher, part-time food Instagrammer, and full-time Raptors fan. I’m currently a second year student studying International Business at the Schulich School of Business. My passions include travelling and finding the newest restaurants to try. :)

How did you come to join Women In Leadership?
I first learnt of Women in Leadership during the first week of my first year, I visited their booth during the club fair because I have always been an advocate for equal treatment in the corporate industry regardless of gender. I made the decision that day to join because I was immediately drawn to their mission and the tight-knit bond that was evident between the members.

What do you love most about your work with Women in Leadership?
I love that with each event we enhance the understanding and appreciation of women’s roles in the corporate workplace, and that we inspire (mostly female) students to strive towards their goals. I also love that I get to play a part in building a strong network of business students who support each other and inspire each other to work hard for your goals.

 


Can you talk about one woman who has impacted you?
The woman who has the greatest impact on me is definitely my mom. My mom has always taught me to stay grounded, work hard, and be grateful for all that you have/have achieved. I believe that the discipline she has instilled in me is the reason I stay driven and determined in achieving my goals.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
I think every leader must possess resilience, because it’s those who have failed countless times before but have learnt from it and came back stronger, that have the most knowledge and valuable experience. I think leaders who demonstrate resilience are able to adapt to any scenario and make the most of a bad situation. I think people naturally follow a leader who is resilient because we know we can depend on them through thick and thin. Leaders who have achieved their success today because of the obstacles they’ve overcome in the past are people that I would love to learn from.

Who is your role model as a leader? 
Michelle Obama has always been a role model for me, the type of leader that I look up to and inspires me to be the best version of myself. She is an iconic symbol of strength, education, and racial diversity. Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn campaign really opened my eyes to the conditions and challenges that a significant amount of girls in developing countries face, and it made me realize the importance of giving girls the proper education and support that they need. When girls are given support and the proper tools for success, the possibilities of their impact on their society and environment are endless.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?
As a kid I wanted to be a teacher because I thought it would be a lot of fun to go to work everyday and get to talk to kids and your friends/fellow teachers. I loved the idea of being in a social job and interacting with people from different backgrounds.

Who was the first woman you looked up to, and why did you want to be like her?
One of the first women I looked up to was Ellen Degeneres because my older sister and my mom loved her show; I remember we would watch her show together almost everyday. I looked up to her because she was one of the first famous female talk show hosts in an industry where all hosts are predominantly male.

I wanted to be like her because she creates such a positive impact on people/the world, she uses her influence to educate her audience on important issues, she’s a strong advocate for animal rights and an icon for the LGBTQ community. I also wanted to be like her in the sense that she has worked incredibly hard to achieve the success she has today, and now her success enables her to give back to others in need.

 


Why is it so important that women have leadership positions in our institutions?
Women bring a completely different perspective to a business than men do, when there are women in leadership positions it leads to diversity of thought, which in turn leads to a creative and thriving business. I also think that having an increasing number of women in leadership positions helps society make the shift towards pay equity and helps fight for equal opportunities between genders. Most importantly, strong successful women in leadership positions inspire girls at a young age that it is possible for women to be CEOs and to be the president of an organization. Women need role models, when current female leaders provide advice and speak to the specific issues of working in a male-dominated workplace, it helps more women in the future to become leaders. 

In Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House? Carolyn Heldman, a professor at Occidental College, explains that when children are seven years old, boys and girls say they want to be president in roughly the same numbers. By the time they’re 15, the number of girls who say they’d like to be president drops off dramatically, as compared to the boys. What role do you think in how we educate our children contributes to this shift? 
As children, we’re taught to dream big and shoot for the moon because even if you fail you’ll land among the stars. But as children start to get older, everyone around them starts to become realistic. This shift occurs because we educate our children to fit into a societal norm, and in society’s “normal” you are supposed to look a certain way, behave a certain way, and fit into your respective gender role. We’re taught that females are not supposed to be in leadership roles, our job is to take a backstage role and support men to become the best they can be. But we never teach children to think about the future, in the sense that how can we change the future? What do we hope to see in the future and how will we work towards achieving that goal?

What is the most valuable advice you have been given? 
Everyone has a different start line in the sense that some people are born rich, poor, or with disabilities, etc… but instead of focusing on your disadvantages you should work hard on building yourself and overcoming the challenges thrown your way. Only then, will you be able to achieve success and help level the playing field for those who can’t.

Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?
In bed or at the library studying, depends on my workload that school week.

What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken?
The greatest risk I’ve taken was this last October when I applied to a two year double degree program in China. This program was designed to groom students to be future leaders all around the globe. During my first round of application, I was told that I was not the “type” that they were looking for, in terms of gender, ethnic background, values, goals, etc... 


I was insistent on applying and continuing onto each round of interviews because yes, the program is revolutionary but more importantly than getting accepted, I wanted to challenge the stereotypes/prejudice that they had. The type of leaders that they wanted to groom and the type of leader that I want to be could not be more different, so unfortunately I was not admitted into the program but I’m glad I took this risk as it was a very valuable and eye opening experience.

 


What makes you doubt yourself, and how do you manage it?
This is a typical student’s answer but my grades definitely make me doubt myself. My university program has been much harder than I expected and my grades are absolutely one of the biggest stress factors in my life at the moment. I manage it by constantly reminding myself to step back, breathe, and look at the big picture.

A letter grade on a piece of paper does not determine your self worth! In hindsight, your grade in an economics course does not matter if you are a strong and positive person with a right set of values.

When was your bravest moment? How do you practice being brave?Standing up (with other people, I’m not sure if I could have done it alone) for a complete stranger at a Starbucks when the barista shouted a racial slur at her. I was terrified but I’m proud of myself for saying something because I knew it was the right thing to do. I practice being brave by reminding myself to follow my gut, to openly say and do what I want without worrying about what other people might think.

What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
The best decision I’ve ever made is applying for an executive position on Women in Leadership :) The worst decision I’ve ever made is forcing myself into a field of study because I felt that’s what others expected of me, before switching to what I’m truly passionate about (business).

What is your definition of success?
My definition of success is living a life that you’re proud of and where you’re truly happy. Being successful to me means pursuing a career in a field that you’re passionate about and makes you excited to go to work everyday. I think success occurs when you’re open and willing to learn, expand, and adapt. I also think being successful is when you’re always feeling inspired and have the power/influence to inspire others. On the other hand, success to me also means having a balanced professional and personal life. Putting in the time and effort to develop meaningful relationships with friends and family, as well as practicing self-care (being active, eating healthy) are all contributing factors to my definition of success.

What would you like to achieve next?
My goal in the near future is to graduate and find a job in Asia as I’m incredibly interested in International Business. I would love to step out of my comfort zone and into a completely different environment. I think overcoming obstacles that come with working in Asia such as the language barrier, cultural differences, contrasting societal norms will be the ultimate challenge and learning experience.

 

Wow!!! We are inspired for days. Get inspired too and check out Mandy's foodie Instagram account that she runs with her sister or find her on LinkedIn

 

WHAT IS SMARTBITE COLLECTIVE? Smartbite Collective shines a spotlight on changemakers in our community that live according to Smartbite principles. We started Smartbite Snacks because we want to live our lives on our own terms while creating a positive change around us. We don't wait for things to happen, we get up and happen to things. Roadblocks don't discourage us, they fuel us. We believe that life is what you make it, how you impact it and also how you look at it – rice cakes are just rice but wine is just grapes. To us simplicity, boldness, kindness and giving a shit (yes, we said it) are everything and when we meet someone who embodies all of the above, you bet we'll ask tons of questions. 



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