Celebrating female leaders this International Women’s Day

With March 8 being International Women’s Day, this edition of The Bright Side holds special significance. As I grow and progress in my career, I am grateful for all the leaders and mentors I have met along the way. In particular, I’ve had the privilege to work with several exceptional women who’ve shown me the true meaning of leadership.

From anxiety to aspiration

My career journey over the last five and a half years has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding parts of my life. I remember my first day at what’s now Baker Tilly Catalyst like it was yesterday. I was shy and insecure, unsure of who I was. Fresh out of university, I had so much anxiety that just the thought of phoning a client scared me. I constantly worried about what others thought, and a part of me wondered how I even got the job.

Fortunately, the leadership team at the firm could see the potential in me before I saw it in myself. That allowed me to lean into the discomfort on my journey of growth. What’s more, our firm has many strong female leaders in significant roles, further inspiring and enabling me to see myself in such roles. In this regard, representation really does matter.

Empathy is essential

Thanks to the supportive environment at our firm, no matter how uncomfortable or daunting an assigned task seemed, I was open to giving it my best shot, even if it meant failing multiple times before I figured it out. As much as the growth was uncomfortable, the struggle was always worth it. Every time we experience a storm, we come out stronger because it builds our character.

In overcoming your hurdles, you gain an essential element of true leadership: empathy for others on their journey. Sure, experience and expertise are important, but to become a real leader it takes empathy. This is about understanding others and seeing yourself reflected in them. Through empathy, we can empower others and give them a safe space to ask for help and make mistakes.

Words of wisdom

I want to share some especially valuable words from the remarkable female leaders at Baker Tilly Catalyst who have helped me in my career. These women inspired me to grow and believe in myself. While they all have their own specialty area of expertise, they all lead from a heart‑centred place. I couldn’t ask for a better group of colleagues, and what better occasion than International Women’s Day to highlight their perspectives on leadership.

  • Just a test image
  • Just a test image
  • Just a test image
  • Just a test image
  • Just a test image
  • Just a test image

Valuing diversity

International Women’s Day is the perfect occasion to celebrate not only female leaders, but diversity and inclusion generally. By encouraging more diverse representation in accounting, the industry will only become stronger. Of course, this applies to other sectors as well.

I believe we all have the potential to excel and lead if provided appropriate support and opportunity. But it all begins by believing in yourself. If you can’t envision your own success, it makes it that much harder for others to see it. Peel away the layers of doubt and fear holding you back and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

You don’t have to go it alone. Seek out mentors who support your dreams. Once you achieve your goals, you’ll be in a position to help others just as you were assisted. As we mark International Women’s Day, let’s take inspiration from each other. In the words of tennis great Serena Williams, “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.”

I couldn’t agree more. Be strong, be sincere and be supportive! See you again next month for more of The Bright Side.

Manager, Client Advisory at Baker Tilly Catalyst, Shannon McIntosh has overcome anxiety, insecurity and depression to emerge as a voice of empowerment, helping clients and colleagues exceed expectations and break new ground. In The Bright Side, she taps into her specialized experience working with non‑profit businesses and her passion for helping organizations that support the community to offer enlightening tax, financial and business guidance to help replace self‑doubt with self‑belief.

Meet the Author

Shannon McIntosh Shannon McIntosh
Calgary, Alberta
D 403-750-7683
E .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)