Women in Leadership Spotlight on Dr. Stacey Fitzsimmons

Introducing our next Women in Leadership spotlight honoree Dr. Stacey Fitzsimmons, who speaks candidly about the challenges of being a working mother and the importance of calling out bias.

Dr. Stacey is the Associate Professor of International Business at Peter B. Gustavson School of Business and is based in British Columbia. After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University with an Honours B.B.A. in Business Administration and an Honours B.A. in Philosophy, she continued her education by achieving a Ph.D in International Business from Simon Fraser University.

As a researcher, her goal is to improve the way people work with others across differences by examining how multicultural individuals, immigrants and their descendants contribute to their workplaces as employees.

Join Dr. Fitzsimmons below as she talks about her experience with imposter syndrome, what it takes to be a leader in her academic environment and the role mentorship and sponsorship have played in her career journey.

What quote inspires you the most?

“Not all those who wander are lost” –Thoreau

What has been the most significant barrier in your career to date?

Becoming a mom. I love it, while also realizing I’d underestimated the degree to which it would limit my career.

Have you ever felt the imposter syndrome, and if so how did you navigate your way through it?

The moment I felt it most was when I was interviewing for my dream job while only a few months post-partum with my first child. I wasn’t sleeping more than a few hours at a time, was in a fog through most of the day, and had completely dropped all my research projects. I felt like a fraud presenting myself as a competent researcher at the time. To compensate, I memorized answers and anecdotes to any potential question, and even paid an academic career coach to do a practice interview with me. I got the job! (It’s my current job, and I still love it here)

What do you think are the three most important characteristics to be an amazing leader in your organization?

Tenacity and self-determination for the research. We have incredible freedom to pursue our own research projects, but no one else to keep us on track with them. Purpose for teaching and compassion for our students.

How do you balance career, personal life and passions?

My husband, Matt. He’s the primary parent in our family, so takes care of all the cooking, groceries, school runs, activities, mental load, etc. Without him, there’s no way I’d be as successful in my career. Because of him, I’ve even joined an Outrigger paddling team this year!

What has been your biggest learning when it comes to work-life harmony during the pandemic?

Time at home with the kids doing nothing all day is actually kind of awesome! My favorite was getting a karaoke microphone for the home.

What is the role mentorship and sponsorship have played in your career?

I hope to be half as effective at both as I’ve received in my career. My former PhD supervisor Dave Thomas is still my primary guide. A group of four academics in London UK inspire me with their commitment to raising others up through a group they founded called CYGNA. Argyro Avgoustaki @ESCP, Anne-Wil Harzing @ Middlesex University, Linn Eleanor Zhang @ Loughborough University, and Shasha Zhao @ University of Surrey. https://harzing.com/cygna/about

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Chill out and enjoy the ride. Explore more!

In honour of International Women’s Day 2022, has there been a time where you or someone around you has had to #BreakTheBias? What was your biggest learning from this experience?

I’m most appreciative of the times when others have called out my bias. For example, one time I invited a highly sought academic for a panel. She declined and pointed out that I ought to be giving new voices an opportunity to be heard, especially from underrepresented races. She was completely right, and the new panelist brought a fresh perspective to the topic that made it far more interesting.

Bonus Question – Who has been the most influential woman in your life/career?

So many to choose from! I’m going to take liberties and list two. Sofy Carayannopoulos @ Wilfrid Laurier University is my teaching aspiration for being transformational yet fair. Martha Maznevski @ Ivey is my research aspiration, for targeting important research projects that make the world better.



Free Exclusive Leadership Tips

Enter your email below to get access to our proven leadership tips and DEI best practices