Manjeet Birk is the executive director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.
What advice would you offer women pursuing leadership positions in their fields?
My advice is simple. Trust your instincts. As women, especially for young women and marginalized women, we are socialized to overlook our intuitions. If I could do it all over again, I would spend less time worrying about what I think I should be doing and more time doing what feels right.
What is your definition of success?
Happiness. Finding a balance between the personal and the professional, and spending each day knowing I am making student lives and the student experience better.
Have you had any mentors throughout your life? What role have they played in helping you become the leader you are today?
I have had the privilege of many mentors in my life. The gift of time and experience that they gave and continue to give to me has been incredibly valuable and helped shape me into a fierce but kind agitator. This early guidance has been imperative, and as a result, I always try to make space to listen and support others – especially racialized and Indigenous girls and women who do not always have access to the same mentorship opportunities.
What are the keys to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion on Canadian campuses?
The most important key to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus is to listen to the consultations that have been done. Take advice from the people who have shared their time and experience – and implement their advice into action.
Universities Canada celebrates International Women’s Day 2019 by recognizing the achievements of Manjeet Birk and her unique path to leadership.