Lesley Taylor, MEd’97

Current Role

Author & CEO, Western Winds Publishing

What would you tell your graduating self?

Join Toastmasters! The ability to communicate one-to-one and in groups is a basic skill required in today’s workplace. Toastmasters is an international, not-for-profit organization, with a proven formula.  If I were to do one thing differently I would join TM right after graduation and continue on throughout my career. Toastmasters helps build confidence and leadership skills in addition to public speaking skills.

What was your ‘aha’ moment?”

My ‘aha’ moment was when I realized that I had become a leader. When I was younger I did not think of myself as leadership material but other people saw the potential in me and I was regularly singled out for leadership opportunities. I believe that the reason for this was the fact that I was forever taking courses or taking advantage of training opportunities and I loved sharing my newfound knowledge. I was also happy to mentor students. I worked in health care so there were always a lot of students around.

What is the best career advice you have received?

Early on in my career someone in human resources told me I needed to obtain a Master’s degree if I wanted to move into management or move into other interesting positions. After I enrolled in the M.Ed. program at UBC a Vice President at the hospital where I worked would regularly ask me how I was progressing which I found very affirming.

How do you make the best of all situations?

I’m lucky to be able to see the “glass as half full.” I’m an optimist and I look for the good in people. I became aware of my values early on and have used them as a compass.  I think that learning as much as one can about oneself, including strengths, areas for improvement, purpose, values etc. makes it easier to deal with difficult situations.

What did you think you would be doing when you started university?

When I started at UBC I wanted to be a social worker. I had met a social worker while volunteering at the crisis centre in Richmond and decided that was what I wanted to do. After graduating with a BSW I was hired to work as a social worker for the City of Vancouver when public health was part of the City’s mandate. Early on I was also interested in adult education and management/leadership. After I left the City I went to work at St. Vincent’s Hospital as a social worker as part of a new team focusing on geriatrics. It was there that I was offered my first leadership role. I also had the opportunity to do some organizational development work “off the side of my desk” and when the opportunity arose I took an Organization Development role in Human Resources at St. Paul’s Hospital. In addition, I taught in the leadership program at Douglas College.

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