Sarah Daly

Women of Distinction Spotlight: Sarah Daly

It’s time to disrupt your morning with some inspiration from Women of Distinction Winner (and now Women of Distinction Committee Chair!) Sarah Daly. 

1. What was your reaction/thoughts when you were approached for a WOD nomination?

I was actually really embarrassed to be nominated! I really didn’t think that I deserved to be recognized and I had to be talked into it by my nominator. That said, I was grateful to have people in my life who cared about me and saw my actions as noteworthy.

2. What have you been up to since your big win?

I moved from working with the Cambridge and North Dumfries community to working in a number of student-focused roles at Conestoga College over the past few years. Working with people everyday is hard, yet still the most rewarding type of work I’ve ever done. You can’t beat seeing a student grow and develop, both personally and academically, knowing that you had a hand in that.

3. Did your win influence how you see being a role model?

I didn’t necessarily think that I was doing anything extraordinary, yet it was humbling to hear other people’s view of my so-called ‘accomplishments’. Perhaps role models aren’t self-actualized people who have figured everything out, but instead just ordinary people who make thoughtful small decisions day-to-day, understanding the power and potential impact of these decisions.

4. What’s the best advice you ever received?

Go with your gut. Although I’m very discerning about my employment decisions, it hasn’t let me down yet, even if it takes some time to reap the benefits.

5. What’s your personal motto?

Lately my motto has been “Why not go out on a limb – that’s where the fruit is, isn’t it?” I think a lot can be learned from taking risks. This is the 40-year old me talking though; it’s a lot easier to take risks when you have years of work experience and transferable skills to draw on. The quote “You can’t live the same year 75 years in a row and call it a life” has also made me realize the importance of living every day of your life in a unique way.

6. Name the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned about leadership.

I love Conestoga College’s Student Life Department approach: a leader is anyone who leads with their everyday actions. It takes power away from the notion that only some people are leaders, and instead distributes that power to everyone and anyone. We all have immense power to influence others everyday with every decision we make, whether it’s the person walking past us on the sidewalk or someone overseas. This simplistic notion of leadership makes us accountable for our decisions and actions.

7. What’s your go-to when you need inspiration or motivation (quote, activity, et cetera)

Sark’s Wild Succulent Woman came out when I was in my 20s and was living out west trying to ‘find myself’ and I have a soft spot for her particular brand of rainbow and glitter wisdom. One of my favourite quotes is “Make friends with freedom and uncertainty.” I have become quite comfortable with change in the past few years because I can see how the uncertainty than comes from taking risks can lead to amazing things.

8. In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up again?

I am a roller coaster of emotions on a good day. One minute I can feel like I’m on top of everything and the next I’m overwhelmed. I figure as long as there are more highs than lows, I count my blessings. The idea that ‘you need rain to get a rainbow’ resonates with me in a big way. Being grateful is a huge part of this; when I become aware that I’m feeling gratitude, I try to stop and focus on it for a quick moment. Those moments add up and get me though the bluer days.

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