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Women of Steel: Azra Hussain

Ish Sharma Darpan, 01 Apr, 2022
  • Women of Steel: Azra Hussain

"To me, being a woman means to lead with authenticity, resilience and empathy in our communities, our workplace and at home. To authentically share our stories of struggle and strength, making ourselves available as role models in resilience for younger women, and being empathetic leaders in every aspect of our lives."-Azra Hussain, COO of Surrey Hospitals Foundation. 

Azra Hussain is the Chief Operating Officer at Surrey Hospitals Foundation. With her Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) professional designations, Azra brings a unique skill set to her responsibilities of financial oversight, fundraising, talent management and operations to the Foundation. In 2020, Azra received the Not-for-Profit Leader Award from Surrey Board of Trade. Azra was recognized in the 2021 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award in the KPMG C-Suite Executive category, presented by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN).

 

Azra sits on the Board of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) of Vancouver, volunteers with the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s (AHP) 2022 Convene Canada Conference Committee and the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Task Force, Surrey Board of Trade’s Women In Business team and the local Tax Clinic to assist low-income groups with their annual personal tax filing. Azra lives ‘Leadership by Example’ through her root passion in volunteer work.

 
 
 
 
 
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What does being a woman mean to you?

To me, being a woman means to lead with authenticity, resilience and empathy in our communities, our workplace and at home. To authentically share our stories of struggle and strength, making ourselves available as role models in resilience for younger women, and being empathetic leaders in every aspect of our lives.

What has been your biggest achievement in 2021?

Professionally: During the pandemic, my focus was to lead and work with my team through and beyond the crisis, rapidly transitioning without business disruption, with a constant eye towards resilience and stability. Through this approach and the team’s efforts, the Foundation was able to reach outstanding results, enabling us to raise funds to support the frontline workers, providing them the equipment needed to serve the community. As I look back on 2021, I feel great pride from the impactful work I have done to serve the community, while continuing to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic in my leadership role and bringing technological advancement to the Foundation.

Personally: I was blessed with 2021 being a year of recognition and awards. I was very humbled to share the WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award with my daughter. Making Canadian history as the first mother-daughter duo to receive this award in the same year was a profound moment in my life. My son also received the BC Government Medal of Good Citizenship during the year for his volunteer efforts to 3D print Covid-19 mitigation devices in the community. Watching both my children standing in the spotlight and building legacies of their own fills me with a sense of pride I have never felt before.

A milestone that defines your journey?

Starting life over is something I had to become proficient at. My past experiences set the stage for me to learn the “How” - life can change moment to moment and that’s what created my “Why” - I do what I do. Immigrating to Canada and starting life over yet one more time, experiencing a new country, new culture and new criticisms, I put to the test a belief system that had served me well in life. I had this philosophy - win or lose has no bearing on whether you try your hardest or not. That belief has given me a life of pursuing professional designations, achieving them, and continued professional growth, while also building my network and raising my family in Surrey over the past 22 years.

 
 
 
 
 
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What are you working on right now and in 2022?

The pandemic opened a new lens in the way we view fundraising, as well as a new demography to the Foundation. To succeed in this new landscape, it is important to continually fine tune the strategies and operations needed to move forward as an organization; that is my focus. Continuing to serve the community by being that important conduit and doing impactful work is at the forefront of all my work. Outside of work, I am committed to continuing my volunteering efforts. I am very excited this year to volunteer as a faculty member for the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s Madison Institute teaching Fundraising Management to CXOs.

What’s your advice for women who wish to follow your path?

To be “Confident in your Competence”. What I mean by this is, having the confidence to know you have the ability to do something really well. You have skills to contribute to the world, abilities and traits where you excel. We all have something we are really good at, something as unique as our own fingerprint, to contribute to the world. These are our Core Strengths. Take the time to identify your Core Strengths and have enough confidence in those strengths to utilize them in every part of your life. This is where your true power lies.

 

                                                     

Photo: A Master Media

 

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