BY J. M. LEE
Manpreet Dhillon ranked #15 globally on the 2020 EmPower Ethnic Minority Future Leaders list. She has over 20 years of leadership, coaching, human resources, and community development expertise.
Professionally, she is an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Consultant and founder/CEO of Veza Global, a tech and consulting organization. She spent over 15 years working in gender equality and economic empowerment for marginalized and racialized individuals.
Growing up in Kamloops to immigrant parents who did everything they could to create a strong foundation for her future. However, she has decided what success looks like for her—different than the traditional paths.
Manpreet enjoys work, creating solutions for systemic issues in society while trudging the path of a life that she desired. She created her non-traditional career, built her own company doing work she’s passionate about, and traveled to 33 countries, and counted to continue learning about people, cultures, and how people’s backgrounds impact who they are.
Her professional background includes Human Resources, working within the UN system, launching and growing various not-for-profit organizations, working both locally and internationally. She took risks like running the first trade mission of women entrepreneurs by a private company to Croatia and then developing a proprietary assessment tool to measure how organizations are doing on equity, diversity, inclusion, and frameworks to help companies be more inclusive. Early on, she realized how to learn from other’s mistakes via stories and see what resonates with her. She used her intuition to guide her path, leading to the discovery of where the power is.
Her passion for gender equity comes from being in some situations where she was talked over or the men were listened to, even if she was the one leading the project. The concept of safety has been something that she is conscious of from a psychological safety perspective within organization and to traveling abroad in war impacted companies. Gender equity required her to invest heavily in her personal and professional development through coaching and participating in projects where her passion to ensure other women have a voice and take their position at the leadership table. She cherishes the good moments to build character and inner strength to be doing the things that she is. The reflection, coaching, and deep commitment to leading from her heart have built her confidence.
The leadership confidence and voice she developed came from taking classes like Toastmasters and surrounded herself with other influential leaders. The strategies that can help women move forward are by using feminine leadership principles and staying true to themselves. Courage, risk-taking, and resilience—are necessary. But empathy, compassion, and strategy are even more critical. Women will succeed when they harness and amplify their positive traits and skills. They must understand their strengths, what they would like to contribute, and be transparent about what is the pathway forward.
Manpreet helps marginalized groups, especially women of color stay in their strengths, and supports them in their career progression. To get a promotion, they must know the “rules” of getting promoted or having the network they need. And they should not hold themselves back.
As a leader, Manpreet believes the balance is allowing the ebbs and flows of what’s important at the time. She has created an ideal schedule that guides her; In some weeks, there will be more work, and others will be personal.
Her advice to the next younger generation of women is simple enough to grasp: understand why something is important to you and find a way to take the inspired steps you desire.
Manpreet believes that Drishti Magazine is taking this opportunity to talk about the journeys that different women have taken. Understanding someone’s journey can inspire women to know that the pathway is still open for them. One of the biggest challenges in inclusion is the lack of role models or mentors that look like them or have walked paths similar to what they want.
Mother’s Day comes in May, a perfect time to reminisce about her wonderful camaraderie with her dear mother. Manpreet’s mom’s kindness and giving nature pushed the status quo, and that’s what Manpreet appreciates about her. Her mom was always curious about how to help others and create lasting change in someone else’s life—as an entrepreneur who took chances and has been instrumental in living her dreams and doing what is essential to her. It must be running in the family, then—like mother, like daughter.
You can visit www.vezaglobal.com to learn more.