Understand yourself, have no fear and anything is possibleFriday, March 08, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
The Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPW) of Sault Ste. Marie honoured several local women who have served as role models and succeeded in a wide range of areas, from business to education to the arts, at the Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel Thursday.
The BPW celebrates March 8, which is International Women’s Day, along with Women’s Week, and six honourees, each one a Woman of the Day, and a Woman of the Week, are recognized at the Women’s Week Honourees Dinner.
Shown, from left to right, are this year’s honourees Donna Hilsinger (general manager, Algoma’s Water Tower Inn), Gail Nelson, (Sault Theatre Workshop, Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre), Carolyn Hepburn (director of Native education and academic upgrading, Sault College), Nora Jennings (Red Cross worker, and longtime supporter of local speed skating), and Marlene McKinnon (certified geomatics specialist, SSM Conservation Authority).
Another honouree, Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board Vice-Chair, Leslie Cassidy-Amadio, was absent.
Hilsinger told SooToday.com: “I’m honoured and humbled to be recognized by my peers who work very hard to serve the community, their businesses, their employees. It’s a passion we have and to be chosen from among this group of people who have been doing this (Women’s Week Banquet) for 23 years, it’s nice to celebrate.”
“It gives us a lot of incentive to keep going, reach new heights, and mentor new people as role models and be an example for those interested in pursuing a career in business.”
What advice does Hilsinger have for young women charting out their career path?
“I think specifically, before anything else, understand yourself... who you are, what you are passionate about, and believe you have the skills and the abilities to do what you want to do.”
Hilsinger said both men and women have to also “face their fears.”
“Tell yourself there’s nothing to be afraid of. You can accomplish anything you want.”
Hilsinger told us she is encouraged that many more women are now seeking and getting postsecondary education and seeing possibilities, but acknowledged there is stiff competition in the work force for both men and women.
What of the importance of government support in the form of start-up funding for small businesses?
“I think there are certainly great opportunities out there for support, on how to build support for business in Sault Ste. Marie, to get financing. I think with well thought out plans, and good hard work, there are lots of opportunity for people.”
Hilsinger reflected on her own experience and spoke of the value of having good mentors.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my dad started as an entrepreneur in 1961, I was born into the hospitality industry. I did all the jobs, such as the front desk, housekeeping, food service, I worked in the ski industry, all with a very supportive family and lots of role models.”
Hilsinger says among the people who have inspired her were Terry Fox, and a mentor at the YMCA.
“I taught swimming at the YMCA... Alice Nelson, who ran the pool at the Y, she believed in me. I had fantastic teachers at Mount St. Joseph College who nurtured me as well.”
Looking forward, Hilsinger has faith in young entrepreneurs.
“You have to have a unique product the public wants to buy, and that’s getting increasingly complex in the world of technology, but it’s happening every day where people figure out new apps.”
“Anything is possible.”