International Women's Day interview with SUkhi Ghuman
Tell us a little about you.
I’m a mother of two, a community builder, a connector, a marketing and events professional, an arts advocate and a lifestyle photographer. I work as a Marketing and Events Manager at the University of British Columbia, and in 2012 I co-founded the Be Your Own Best Friend Network, a networking group dedicated to empowering young girls and South Asian women. I was a board of Director with the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration (VIBC) Society for 12 years, and have been a Board of Director with the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre for the last two years.
What does the International Women's Day 2019 campaign theme: #BalanceforBetter mean for you in your Personal and Professional life?
For me, #BalanceforBetter is a great theme as we strive to build a gender-balanced world. Everyone has a part to play especially as we enter this exciting period of history where the world expects balance. We as a community are a lot more aware of the balance disparity and will continue to celebrate its presence. Balance drives a better world for all of us.
Tell me more about your Professional life as your Facebook Bio states: Digital Marketing Strategist, Lifestyle Photographer, Blogger, Mother, Wife, Lover of Life. And what do you enjoy most and why?
I’ve worked as a Marketing and Events professional at the University of British Columbia for the last nine years. I love how I have the ability to create something from nothing. Like an artist, a marketer likes to create. We do this through words, sounds, videos, pictures, interactivity and so much more. My artistic outlet is my photography.
I enjoy capturing life’s most precious moments and how photography has the ability to evoke emotions in others. Spending time with my two amazing boys also brings me immense joy. I appreciate seeing life through their eyes and finding joy in the littlest things. I truly love my life and feel we should all take our lives and make it the best story in the world.
What is the type of photography you do the most?
I would describe myself as a lifestyle photographer. I enjoy capturing candid moments. I also enjoy portraiture and capturing peoples’ moods and expressions.
Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path? Who are your female icons?
Thanks to the world of instagram, we have the ability to follow some immensely talented individuals at our fingertips. Initially, I had started out as an educator. I completed my Bachelor’s of Education degree and worked as a Teacher-On-Call in the Surrey School District, however I was left feeling exhausted at the end of each day, and needed more balance in my life. This then led me into the marketing and events industry. I loved the flexibility it gave me while still allowing me to be creative.
I started the Be Your Own Best Friend network, as I strongly saw a need to create a networking group that not only provides women with an opportunity to network in a safe and fun environment, but also celebrates the successes of South Asian women.
My female icons include women like Oprah and Michelle Obama. I also look up to many women who have and continue to stand up for women’s rights.
Describe a typical day in the life of Sukhi Ghuman.
I think my day is typical to any working mom trying to balance it all. I’m usually awake at 6:00am to the wails of my 18-month-old son. The mornings are a true balancing act, as I try to get my boys dressed and ready for daycare, while my husband assists with making breakfast, lunches and getting the boys fed before school. I then head to work at UBC where days consist of meetings with clients and partners and then working closely with our in-house communications team. After that, I head over to daycare to pick-up the boys. This gives us some time to play and unwind before my husband prepares dinner. (I should mention, my husband is a chef hence why he takes care of preparing all of our meals). By 8:00pm, both kids are bathed and in bed.
It’s in the evening hours I work on my passion projects, whether it’s editing photos from a recent photo shoot, to coordinating details for an upcoming BYOBF Network event, or at times consulting with small businesses on their digital marketing needs.
Weekends are typically spent with family, or doing photo shoots, however work/life balance is immensely important to me, and therefore I ensure I have the me-time I crave and precious time with my family.
How did you balance being a mother and professional? What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
All working moms make sacrifice. However, I have a problem with the word “sacrifice.” “Sacrifice” implies an unfair trade we’ve made in order to have children and I don’t think that’s accurate. For me, the pros of having children and a career, outweigh the cons of choosing one way of life over the other.
Would I advance faster up the corporate ladder without kids? Maybe. However, just because I wouldn’t be putting time in as a parent if that particular scenario was my current reality, doesn’t mean I would put that time back into my job. Perhaps there would be other passions I’d cultivate outside of work. Some of the women that I admire most, are working moms. There is no steadfast formula for guaranteed success, in any aspect of life but especially when it comes to your job.
How do you knock off negativity Negative Connotations from the society against women who follow their passion?
I’m not going to lie. Pursuing your passions while being a working mom isn’t easy. When I was a child, I saw my mother work in various industries.
Watching her efforts made me want to work hard too. We don’t stop being ambitious simply because we have children. I’m also following my passions so show my kids I never stopped trying living my best life. I ignore negativity and don’t let anyone ever dull my sparkle.
Tell me about your dreams of a women’s art space in the city. What It's Really Like to Be a Female Photographer. What are the obstacles a female artist is likely to encounter on their way up the art ladder?
Unfortunately many of us face the glass ceiling effect in any profession. This invisible barrier that prevents women and especially women of colour from rising to the highest ranks.
Many organizations previously shunted women onto the “mommy track” a sort of sideline in which promotions and raises never resulted in the woman being granted duties that could have a real effect on the company. Women are no longer shunted into a completely different career track. Instead, they find themselves almost – but not quite – reaching the top ranks. I feel, I need to prove myself twice as much as my male colleagues, especially since I’m a woman of colour and I can only hope these changes for our future generations as we educate and change the narrative.
How your passion for arts and culture can bring change in the community?
I think it’s very important we increase public value for arts and arts education. Art encompasses all the developmental domains in child development and lends itself to physical development and the enhancement of fine and gross motor skills.
It’s a form of creative human expression, and a way of enriching the human experience. Through art we also have the ability to educate and change perceptions through a variety of mediums. As a community we need to value the arts.
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Follow your passion. Your past does not equal your future and you have the ability to do what you set your mind to. Do what makes you happy.