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Sharing My Story: Overcoming Cultural Barriers as a High Performing Woman

Daria Thorp, President & CEO, ACD/Labs

You might have noticed that we at ACD/Labs have been co-promoting a Canadian business initiative called the Judy Project, and its recent publication “The Collective Wisdom of High-Performing Women”. The Project is administered by the University of Toronto, and is one of Canada’s leading executive forums, uniquely designed to support and prepare women for executive leadership and C-suite positions. It is named after a real person, Judy Elder, a respected Canadian business leader, who died way too early in the middle of her dynamic executive career spanning positions with IBM Canada, Ogilvy One, the Canadian Marketing Association and Microsoft Canada.

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I have the privilege to be an alumnus of the Judy Project myself, and have contributed to this recent publication. The book is organized as a collective storytelling by Canadian female business leaders addressing future leaders. Stories are grouped around leadership traits such as courage, honesty, connection, compassion, creating energy, life-long learning, tenacity, reinvention, generosity, and authenticity.

In my short story, I focus on understanding and overcoming cultural barriers—topics highly relevant to North American and International organizations today. ACD/Labs employees work and live in 11 countries, as we strive to offer local services to our highly international customers. Beyond that, our staff represents even greater diversity of cultural backgrounds. It has been an enlightening journey for me, moving from Russia to Canada and becoming immersed into a highly multi-cultural environment, to understand that we all are very similar human beings, but there are also small, subtle differences that are often driven by our cultural backgrounds. My experience in learning the lessons of cultural diversity first-hand has helped me to be a better manager, but also to understand and work around my personal biases and preferences as a leader within the increasingly global business environment. I have been recommending these MBA-level textbooks to my executive colleagues for years. I want to emphasize that this diversity of history, gender, backgrounds and cultures is an amazing asset of this organization because this allows ACD/Labs to make comprehensive business decisions, to function better internally, and to extend this understanding to our customer relationships.

Here are a few external links for your perusal: