We recognize and celebrate brave female leaders. The women featured in our Brave Women Leaders blog demonstrate resiliency, bravery, and the ability to radiate their light brightly. They have gifts, experience, and strengths to share with the world and they do so bravely. 

Diana Vuong is the Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer for YVR, Vancouver Airport Authority. Diana is a brave values-based leader, champion of people and innovative driver of change. We are thrilled to feature her as one of our brave leaders. 

What does bravery mean to you?

Bravery to me means being able to persist and prevail in the face of adversity.  Life will always have ups and downs and bravery is hardest when you feel that you are in your weakest moments.  It means digging deep to find the strength to push through and overcome what might seem impossible in those moments.

Bravery also means searching for the glimmer of light and allowing yourself to believe that the glimmer leads to something better.  Sometimes, the prospect of that “something better” can seem scary and being brave means taking a chance and pushing yourself beyond what you think you can achieve.

What is one of the bravest things you have ever done?

I grew up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan through the ‘80s and ‘90s, where I was often the only or one of a few Asians in my school. It was also a French Catholic school, which further emphasized how different I was from my classmates and made a sense of belonging difficult throughout my childhood.

At one point in grade 9, I heard that my group of friends, “the cool girl clique”, were planning to kick me out of their group and run away from me at the next recess.  The thought of having my “friends” abandon me was devastating – as a 14 year-old girl, my friends meant everything to me and my self-esteem.  So, I did everything I could to avoid school and made a myriad of excuses to stay home.  My mom, being the amazingly intuitive person that she is, tuned in immediately and asked me what was going on.  When I finally shared what was happening, she immediately said to me, “Diana, you go to school tomorrow and YOU walk away from them.  You take control.  You choose your friends and you do not need those girls to tell you your worth.”

The next day, at recess, I walked away.  I walked in the opposite direction to those cool girls and to a group of friends that I knew accepted me for who I was and would be there for me.  The bravery it took for me to walk the other way seemed impossible to muster up, but when I did it, I had never felt so strong and in control.

That was a turning point in my life.  That one moment taught me the power and importance of believing in myself, being in charge of how I view my self-worth and not looking for others to define it for me.

What benefits have come from leaning into bravery? 

This moment of bravery instilled in me the self-confidence and the resilience that I use every single day, whether faced with negativity, challenging problems to solve, or when things just generally feel like they are working against me.  As an executive and a leader, being comfortable in my own skin allows me to be more vulnerable and to be myself.  And as a mom, showing my kids how I lean into bravery will show them examples of how they can build their own bravery tool belt.  By leaning into bravery and not taking the easy way out by shying away from it, I have learned to believe in myself, build the grit to take on the challenges that come my way, and believe that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

I have to believe in myself – if I don’t, why would anyone else?