Updated: May 4
Susie Ho, WIL Ottawa and Business Development at Calian Nuclear
Susie Ho has been an amazing part of the WIL Community, volunteering as our Ottawa Chapter Chair and advocating create positive changes in the future of women's leadership. Today, we are excited to get to share more about Susie in our Power 5 Interview.
What are you most passionate about?
Obviously, I'm passionate about women's issues. The issues that are nearest and dearest to my heart are universal childcare, gender pay gap, and more recently menstrual equity that looks to abolish period poverty. It took me a long time to find my voice but once I did, I made it a point to speak up and advocate for women and empower them. Sometimes the change we want to see seems daunting and like an impossible task, but as Chair of WIL Ottawa, I have dedicated my time, energy and resources to creating a community where strong like-minded women speak up for these issues together. As a result, we are seeing the incredible impacts of it here in our very own city. Next, I would say that I am passionate about climate change. I have dedicated my entire career to supporting nuclear energy−an industry that I think will be critical in determining whether Canada, and the rest of the world, can meet its climate targets. There is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions out there about nuclear energy, but the fact is, there is no other carbon-free source of energy capable of providing base load power that can be built and scaled up. Period. I invite anybody to reach out to me to have a discussion to learn more.
Who is your greatest role model?
My husband, Mark Walker. He has supported me and helped me grow in so many ways−as a person, a mother, a professional and leader. When we first met, he called me an "undifferentiated stem cell who could do anything and be anything." At the time, I was struggling with a lot of imposter syndrome and even continue to battle feelings of inadequacy today. But throughout my career journey, which has taken so many turns, his confidence in me as been unwavering. Having somebody that you admire so much be your champion is truly the secret sauce for success and happiness. Even though I work with an amazing executive coach, I have always leaned on Mark's guidance and support to help me make important decisions. He is a prolific research scientist, specialist doctor, vice dean of the faculty of medicine and leader.But despite wearing these many hats, he always reminds me that being a parent is the most important job we will ever have and that the most important work that we do will be within the walls of our own home
What is your greatest accomplishment in your career trajectory?
I'm going reframe this question to ask, "What am I most proud of?" There are a few things that come to mind, but most recently, I decided to go back to school get my MBA while I was on mat leave. It was something I've been wanting to do for a long time and had decided that this was the most opportune time to do it. A lot of people questioned whether it was the right decision since my daughter was so young and basically needed me to stay alive. But I knew I needed the MBA to take my career to the next level, and so I made a plan, got my support systems in place and went for it. It wasn't easy, but often the hardest things you'll ever have to do will be the most rewarding. I shared that experience publicly and have become a mentor to new moms who want to do their MBAs.
What advice would you give to women who are building their careers?
I would tell them one of the most important pieces of advice my mentor told me: Your career is not a race, it's a journey. Good people eventually get to where they are meant to be. Nobody expects you to be the smartest person in the room, but no matter what station you are at in your career, show people your potential. Ask to attend meetings and offer to support your colleagues and managers on projects. Lean into challenges and always do your best. People will remember that, and you will gain credibility among those you work with and more importantly, those who can open up doors for you.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I think one of the biggest challenges for our generation and the one that follows is reconciling the notion that women can "have it all". As in, a high powered meaningful careers, thriving family lives, social lives, health, wellness, happiness and bliss. Somewhere, during all of the master classes, TedTalks and feminist female speaking sessions, someone failed to mention that having it all doesn't actually exist. And that every decision that we make in life involves a trade off. Women who choose to pursue a power career sacrifice a lot in this pursuit. Perhaps Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said it best when she admitted that she "didn't always get the balance right". I think both generations will struggle as they learn the hard truth that nobody talks about. Having it all exists at a price. And paying that price requires a lot of grit and determination. There are no hand outs or freebies for women on the road to success.
My biggest flex is having a huge network of incredible people who inspire me, support me, love me and champion me. I heard once that you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. If you agree (as I do) then choose your company wisely. Make sure they are worth your time, your energy, and your love. I cut out people who introduce drama and negative vibes into my life a long time ago. Time is our most precious resource and life is too short to waste it on anybody or anything that doesn't deserve it.
You can connect with Susie on LinkedIn.
Thank you, Susie!