On April 20, the Women’s Business Network will honour 12 of Ottawa’s leading women entrepreneurs at its Businesswoman of the Year gala. The nominees are divided into four categories: Emerging entrepreneur; established entrepreneur; organization; and professional. OBJ will profile each nominee leading up to the event.
What is your proudest business accomplishment?
Being invited into equity partnership is an honour that I cannot explain with words. It is a feeling of accomplishment that I have never felt before. All the years of hard work, dedication and commitment to my firm have paid off. Given the fact that I have such young and happy children (ages two and eight, plus three stepchildren), it makes my achievement that much sweeter because I have managed to balance my life between the love for my family, the love I have for being a lawyer and my commitment to giving back to my community.
I also am very proud of the fact that I have assisted in raising more than $300,000 for the Special Olympics Ontario Greater Ottawa branch. Not only do we raise money for this worthy cause year after year, but we also give back on a grassroots level, which means volunteering at local sporting events with the Special Olympians. The ability to share my love of sport with athletes who are so appreciative and kind is an experience like no other.
Lastly, my appointment to the board of directors of the USLAW Network (a network of independent law firms in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa) has been a significant achievement for me. USLAW is an amazing referral source for work for Kelly Santini LLP. To successfully reach that position as a female within only three years of being involved with the network is very satisfying to me, especially since you are dealing with an organization primarily made of men. It means I have earned the respect of my peers within that organization, which is very meaningful for me.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
My inspiration comes from various sources. Firstly, there are my children. They push me in ways that I did not know was possible. I want to be a better mother, better lawyer and better humanitarian for them. I want them to look at me as a role model. I want them to understand with integrity and hard work you can achieve anything as a woman. My work ethic comes from my mother. She inspired me from a young age. She was a nurse for more than 45 years and dedicated her life to helping others. Her kindness and generosity are not something you can teach. It has to come from within. I believe she has passed that on to me, and I hope that my children inherit that gene.
What is the biggest professional obstacle you've had to overcome?
I think the fact that I have been able to balance a home life with being a partner at Kelly Santini LLP has made me a notable businesswoman, given that I became an equity partner within two years of having my second daughter. The challenge woman have in the legal profession is that it is not conducive to having a family. If you want to succeed and hit your docketed and monetary targets on a yearly basis, with the hopes of becoming a partner someday, you need to commit yourself 110 per cent to this profession. You need to make yourself available to your clients 24/7 and also to the other members of your firm. You never know when a client will be in crisis and will need immediate action to be taken or when a colleague will need help with a file. You need to be prepared to make sacrifices in order to service your clients at a high level.
What is the best business advice you've ever received?
Work hard and play hard. There is no point in working this hard unless you have a chance to sit back and enjoy life. When I am at work, I commit myself wholeheartedly to my legal practice. When I am out of the office, I maximize time with my family and balance that off with travelling, volunteering and physical exercise. If you can’t enjoy life, what is the point? You are only on this earth once, so sleep when you are dead.