Daljit Gill-Badesha’s career is driven by social justice, equity, collaboration, and seva (service). She grew up in an immigrant, Punjabi Sikh, multigenerational family, studied at UBC and found her life partner, Avtar. They have two beautiful children, Aneel & Riya. Her career journey has been diverse. She has led portfolios for all ages and served on provincial and national committees on community development, sports, children/youth development, equity, diversity, and inclusion. She supported a team of South Asian elders and experts to raise awareness about early childhood through radio/tv shows in Punjabi. Her innovative programs have awards for DIVERSEcity Community Resources and the City of Surrey. Currently, she is the Vice President of Community Health & Childcare Partnerships at The Centre for Child Development. Daljit finds it inspiring to do work that creates healthier communities and supports children and youth to reach their highest potential.
“It takes perseverance, grit, and courage to be a leader, especially a woman,” Daljit relates. “Confidence comes from tackling challenges head-on, even if it feels like you are swimming upstream. It can be overwhelming, even if it might look easy. Pursuing the doctoral program at UBC has been an exceptionally challenging 8-year journey. But taking this risk and experiencing the ups and downs of transformation has made me stronger. It’s inspiring to work on legacy projects such as the universal childcare system through involvement on the Provincial Child Care Council, where future generations will benefit from the policies and vision.”
Daljit stands in the footprints of women whose untold stories and legacies have shaped her journey. “Being bold comes from being grounded in who I am,” she declares. “This includes the intersections of culture, first-generation Canadians, and personal and professional roles. It helps to have mentors who have taught me about hidden barriers, glass ceilings, and opportunities. Taking risks helps develop confidence and ensure a steadfast voice.”
For Daljit, success is clearing the path so the next woman can walk smoother and go farther. “Find the courage to stand up for yourself and articulate the value you add to the organization. It is essential to be visible in your leadership. Being a lifelong learner can help women gain an advantage to move up the corporate ladder. A growth mindset helps build resiliency and work through challenges. Learn from the invisible barriers and tackle them, not just for yourself but also for the other women yet to come.”
Daljit’s leadership philosophy is simple. It’s knowing when to lead from the front, the side, and from behind. “I amplify women’s voices and consider how I can harness their expertise to be effective change agents for societal good. Resistance can be implicit dynamics of power, microaggressions, and exclusions that are not always obvious. I learned early on about the importance of education, character, and integrity as protective leadership factors. It is essential to have women at the decision-making table and in power positions. It’s also why I started Mindshift Wellness to help other women.”
Daljit doesn’t believe in work-life balance anymore. She thinks that one can have it all, just not all at once. “It happens over time, and it starts with investing in yourself,” she asserts. “I focus on putting in the appropriate energy and not necessarily equal energy. Different stages of life require different expectations. My focus has changed to finding internal balance—Am I aligned with my purpose? Will my actions help those coming behind me? The internal balance helps me manage all my responsibilities.”
Daljit’s advice to the younger generation of women is relatively straightforward yet thought-provoking. “Lily Tomlin said, ‘the road to success is always under construction’. Thus, you don’t know what the journey is going to bring. So be bold, be present, be vulnerable, learn and grow with courage. It takes drive, dedication, and determination to find your voice, passion, and purpose. When you fail, dust off and try again.”
Daljit thinks that inclusion in the workplace is long overdue. “There is nothing more ideal than creating a society where there is space for everyone to participate and belong.”
If there is something that stands out about Daljit’s mother is her bravery. “She came to Canada as a young woman and carved out her own courageous path that helped our family flourish. She taught me to imagine possibilities that she could not envision for herself. And I am so grateful to be a mother myself and to have the opportunity to support my children. I believe my job is to dream so big for my children that they feel they can soar and always know that they have a safe landing place in our family,” she concludes with confidence and joy.