Every Thursday I profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else!
So without further delay, let me introduce the wonderful Willa Black…
Vice president of corporate marketing at Cisco Canada, Willa Black has developed and built groundbreaking, award-winning programs like the Globe and Mail Business Incubator, and most recently came up with the idea for One Million Acts of Green, which has resulted in people from over 50 countries, logging 1,201,532 acts of green and saving a total of 69,344,703 kilograms of greenhouse gases to date.
“The One Million Acts of Green initiative has set an example for the world as to what is possible when people come together and work towards a common goal,” Willa says.
What drives you to do what you do?
I love to see the impact of what I have done in the market. One Million Acts of Green is an excellent example. I came up with the idea about a year ago, got the support from Cisco, built the partnership with the CBC and the rest is history. Today, we have more than one in every thousand Canadians registered on our site. It is a powerful example of how we can all contribute to Canada’s environmental sustainability one act at a time. It is hugely gratifying for me to see it have this kind of impact. Lots of people come up with good ideas - executing them is the tricky part. But I like to think I am a “do-er”.
How does being a woman empower / challenge you?
I don’t know if being a woman has anything really to do with my feeling of empowerment. I feel empowered by my ideas, and my ability to have a strong positive impact. If I have an idea that can work, that I believe in - or if I am involved in a charitable cause that needs supporters - I am very empowered and focused on moving the ball forward. I grew up with three brothers and work in a male dominated industry - but I have never seen my gender as either an enabler or inhibitor. What empowers and challenges me is the ability to do some good, to drive our business, or rally people around causes that matter. THAT’s empowering.
What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?
Make stuff happen. Be passionate. Follow through. Engage people and lead by example.
Name one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about?
The fine example of Elizabeth I. Imagine what challenges she had doing the job she did … in the mid-1500s. There were legions of men plotting to exploit her “weakness” and take the throne from under her. She had little support, many critics and enemies — yet she had the strength, presence and courage not only to inspire respect, but to lead in the most compelling way. Students of history can learn so much from her.
What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?
Don’t just talk about what needs fixing; try and fix it! Don’t let huge issues overwhelm. Take it one step at a time…but take the step. And compel others to walk with you.
If you haven’t already logged your green acts, head over to the One Million Acts of Green website here.