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.
Do you ever meet a leader and just instantly feel magnetized to their essence? That is how I feel about Juggy Sihota. Charisma, caring, compassion and bravery are all words I would use to describe her. She’s a dynamic values-based leader and is a FORCE for good. Currently the Vice-President of Consumer Health at TELUS, Juggy leads the leads the national strategy, execution, and operation of the Consumer Health business. She brings products to market that address many of the pressing health needs of Canadians and she does it with a depth of caring that is both remarkable and inspirational. She is our Brave Leader for March!
What does bravery mean to you?
Bravery to me is a way of life. It is essential. As a female BIPOC leader you really can’t yet become a leader of consequence without being brave. I grew up in a very homogenous neighborhood here in the lower mainland and my family could not have been more different than everyone else. There was a lot of racism in my early years that was hard to understand, accept and even harder to face. That set the stage for a lot of experiences where you had to be brave to survive let alone thrive. It’s also my mom’s mantra to us kids growing up: Be brave! I find so much of who we are as adults is shaped from how things were when we were children. And while these experiences were often difficult, they are made easier by the strong foundational love and security from my family and for that I am extremely grateful.
What is one of the bravest things you have ever done?
I remember being in Grade 4 and I was being bullied with racist comments from one particular boy in my grade. It was just incessant and I reached a point where it became unyielding and just kept escalating. I didn’t have any teachers at the school who were minorities that I thought could relate to this and so I remember feeling like there isn’t really anyone I can ask for help there. In my mind, highlighting the issue was embarrassing anyway and the risk if I didn’t get help was not something I was comfortable with. I felt like I had to handle my own problem.
I remember one day this boy told me that he was going to fight me at recess. Fight me. I was 9 years old and this kid was telling me he was going to fight me because I should go “back to where I came from”. Which, after he said this to me, I remember I shook my head and mumbled to myself… Royal Columbian Hospital? I knew he wasn’t a bright kid by any stretch even at that age. Anyway, I still remember his name and every last detail about him. So while my stomach was doing flip-flops I knew that come recess there was going to be a situation and I had to face it. I was going to have to face it to fix it.
In hindsight, I should have told my family, my siblings, the teacher or really any adult about this situation but instead, at recess, I went out to the schoolyard and there he was, ready to fight me. And then we got into a physical fight. He was considerably bigger than I was and I remember he was taking swings at me and me at him (I was also the youngest of four children so I had some skills..). It ended when the bell rang and I don’t recall anyone intervening in our altercation. But he knew I could hold my own. He knew I was not and never would be afraid of him.
Facing racism from kids was one thing but experiencing it from adults was far more unnerving. I can also recall a substitute teacher telling me my name wasn’t even a real name and challenging me on it in front of the other kids.
Anyway, there are many more stories like this. I am again grateful to my parents and grandparents who instilled a courageous, equality mindset in us kids that helped us stand strong in the face of things like this then and even now.
What benefits have come from leaning into bravery?
I think we often recognize how strong we are after coming through tough times and then being on the other side. You recognize in hindsight and likely marvel at your capacity to prevail. I think this then builds your grit and experience reservoir for a resilient life ahead. I think when you lean into bravery you are helping design and accelerate that skill-building and then resiliency outcome for yourself. I think the time we are living through right now with the COVID pandemic is testing us a lot on this front and while it’s so difficult for so many it will eventually be behind us. We will prevail, perhaps not unscathed, and it will end. I think an important aspect of bravery not to overlook is being brave to ask for help. My hope is that people who are struggling right now are reaching out and making it known they need help and that they then get it. There are a lot of helpers out there.