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Marie-Daphné Laguerre | Quebec | When I Grow Up

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

A/Director Task Force on Anti-Racism, Workplace Culture & Equity Public Services & Procurement Canada

Gatineau, Quebec - Canada When I was about 9 -10 years old in the mid 80’s, I had the famous homework assignment to write about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was so confused back then because I had no clue what I really wanted to do in terms of a career. Of course like any child I felt my parents' pressure to become either a doctor, a lawyer, a police officer etc…but I did not connect with any of these choices.

Being the daughter of immigrant parents, I watched them struggle to make ends meet, while working in jobs that were not aligned with their aspirations, passion and talents. Meanwhile, I had to come up with something to complete my homework. So I started writing about becoming a hotel maid like my mother. I figured that since she was my role model, I must do like her. I asked her questions about her job and when I submitted my drafted assignment to my father for his review, he was surprised... He looked at me and said: '' just because your mother and I are working in jobs that don't correspond to our aspirations, it doesn't mean that you must struggle like us too''. He also emphasized the fact that I was born and raised in Canada, my integration in the workplace would be easier in comparison to theirs and I would have access to better opportunities. He also insisted that I must focus on my education, so I can have a fair chance at landing a suitable job. I honestly don't recall what I ended up identifying as a career choice for my school assignment, but I am pretty sure it was along the lines of what my father dreamed for me like becoming a teacher, a politician or even a journalist...I eventually found my way in the human resources (HR) field and this is where part of my passion lies. In HR, I really enjoy supporting management in finding the best talents to fill their job vacancies, working on retention strategies, delivering information sessions on various HR topics, resolving workplace conflicts etc... On top of that, I also value all the informal encounters I have had in the past and continue to have with employees who sometimes feel lost or unhappy with their career. When they come to me for advice or guidance, it also feeds my purpose.

I have been blessed by being surrounded by family members and peers who believed in my abilities and potential when I could not quite envision a career choice. As I grew into adulthood, I started to see the vision of my potential expanding and unfolding in a surprising way. Starting from the bottom with a secretary job, I managed to climb the ladder to playing the role of a Director - Anti-Racism, Workplace Culture and Equity with the Federal Public Service. What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them? To be where I am today I had to work on my self-esteem because when I first became a supervisor at 33 years old, I wondered if my team and peers would be able to appreciate my competencies beyond the color of my skin. I was often underestimated by my clients because I looked so young, so the HR advice I provided where sometimes undermined. I used those hurdles as challenges and opportunities to prove my worth and boost my self-confidence. The trust and guidance of senior managers I worked for in the past and those I currently work for played a major role in my growth as well. What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started? Looking back at the beginning of my career, there is nothing I wish I knew as I believe everything we go through is to help us expand to become our best self. With that in mind, I only wish I was taught that everything is going to be alright as long as I trust that life will always find a way to lead me to my path, but I must be willing to listen (to) and trust my inner voice. What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally? My message to the youth is to simply believe they can achieve greatness as long as they believe in that possibility, leverage their talent and surround themselves with like minded people who will feed (into) and support their dream.

I think I am doing pretty well coming from that little girl who had a hard time figuring out a fulfilling future for herself.


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