Maninder Grewal came to Canada at 19 from her hometown Chandigarh. “My first few years were challenging without close family and minimal support,” she confesses. “When my first child, my beautiful daughter, was born, I felt that I finally had a sense of purpose and belonging.”
Maninder began her banking career in 1990 as a teller and climbed up the ladder over the years, culminating in becoming a Community Branch Manager. She persevered through multiple challenges, learning opportunities, and continuing education requirements during all these years. She actively sought opportunities to improve her position and responsibility, and this passion led her to her eventual leadership position.
“I strongly feel that women can make bold and wise decisions as leaders. This helps make the team environment less authoritative and more cooperative. My grandchildren inspire me. I’d like to leave a legacy for them so they will feel proud and have a twinkle in their eyes when they talk about me someday. My friend who hiked the Himalayan mountains started her own blog and became a life coach—inspires me. My mentor, who is still working in his 80s as the most sought-after in the industry, still encourages me. My guiding force comes from various sources who overcome with resilience and shine,” she reminisces.
Her boldness and leadership mainly came from her parents. “In our culture, back in the day, it was looked upon as an incomplete family if you have only daughters and no sons. Male children were considered imperative to continue the family legacy and look after the aging parents. My father was ready to break this hackneyed paradigm. Both my parents encouraged us to pursue any activity we were interested in. I was in the band, music, ballet, drama, and sports. All these have contributed to building a foundation of self-belief that led me to seek leadership opportunities.”
Maninder’s mother, though not highly educated, has had a lifelong love of learning. “I always say with pride that she is a woman who can achieve whatever she decides to do. She can sing, knit, sew, crochet, embroider, paint, play solitaire, and do yoga. In 2019 she won as the ‘cutest grandmother’ in a grandmothers beauty contest! During the lockdown, she kept busy sewing thousands of masks and donating them to local gurdwaras, senior homes, nursing homes, and whoever needed them. She is not dependent on anyone even though she is at the age where most seniors need assistance.” Maninder appreciates her now more than ever. She was a very devoted mother while her children were growing up. She made sure they were always well-dressed, ate healthily, and were always at home when they returned from school.”
Motherhood changed Maninder a lot when she became a mother at a very young age. But soon, after her daughter was born, she realized that no book, advice, and words can prepare one for what lies ahead. It simply comes naturally to you. In the hospital with my first child, breakfast was given to me. I heard my daughter cry in the nursery as I was about to eat, so I asked the nurse if she could bring her to me. I was told to eat first, and then she would bring the baby to me. I instantly put the tray aside and asked how I could eat when my baby was hungry? Life changed for me, putting myself second and more protective,” she says with emotion. “My son was doing his residency up north where the temperature in winter is in the minus 20s. Every morning, the moment I woke up, I would check the weather network hoping and praying that it would not snow. And every day, it was the same weather, but my wish and hope never changed.”
Maninder’s world was completed when she had her youngest daughter. “She was my partner in crime as she stayed with me the longest. My eldest got married, my son was at the university overseas, and my youngest and I were in the house. I feel very blessed when I see all my children and would not change a thing about them. I am me because of them, and my heart is grateful.”
“My motivation to join Options was to provide whatever support I could to assist women and children in need,” Maninder speaks with profound joy. “I strongly believe in the quote by Nelson Mandela that ‘education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.’ As global citizens, it is our responsibility to care for our future and youth.”
Donations can be made at womenofoptions.ca