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Stories from the Trenches: Women Who Lead in International Trade

Wednesday, July 07, 2021 3:47 PM | Anonymous

Hosted by three chapters of OWIT – Tampa Bay, Toronto and South Florida – this cross-border virtual fireside chat featured a panel of three trailblazing and diverse women in different sectors from Canada and the U.S. and was moderated by Canada’s Consul General in Florida, Susan Harper. The panel included:

  • Aylin Lusi, VP Public Affairs, UPS Canada, Toronto
  • Alba Rodriguez: Senior Project & Design Manager, OHL Building, Tampa Bay
  • Hydi Webb : Deputy Port Director, Port of Miami 

In introducing the panelists, Christyna Doege of OWIT Tampa Bay, said: “The heart of this webinar is to showcase successful women IN the world of international trade and business – to learn from them, to take away best practices, and at the end of the hour to say ‘Yeah, women can! Women do! Women are!’ So, too, we want each attendee - both women and men - to be excited about the possibilities found in international business and trade.”

Here are a few highlights from the fireside chat:

What inspired them to work in international trade?

  • When Aylin was a student, her dream job was to be a diplomat because of the appeal of getting to know international cultures. Having an Irish and Turkish background also inspired here.
  • Alba always wanted a career with the opportunity to leave behind a legacy - to see a creation – and that’s why she started as an architect. Then she got into health care which she found fascinating. Through all her travels, she discovered there is so much need in health care and started designing and constructing hospitals in South America and Latin America.
  • Hydi grew up around trade, working in a range of positions with the very international Port of Miami. She’s been at the Port for 39 years, now as its first woman deputy port director.

What are some of their ‘war stories’?

  • When she came up against an anti-trade movement in Europe at the outset of the U.S./E.U. trade negotiations, Aylin learned that not everyone sees the benefits of trade.
  • Despite the sleepless nights negotiating financial agreements with cruise partners and the challenges of being a mom and balancing work and kids, Hydi called ‘war stories’ opportunities instead.
  • Although it can be hard to get accepted initially in a male-dominated career, Alba gradually gained respect by forgetting about the apprehension of male counterparts to embrace her as a female. Rather, she focused on bringing her knowledge and value to teams.

What is their advice to other women?

  • Alba: Follow your passion and your heart and become the best at it. When you know your stuff, you can contribute value.
  • Aylin: Focus on the value you can add and find networks like OWIT which will be most helpful when questioning yourself or having feelings of imposter syndrome by talking about these things with other like-minded women.
  • Hydi: Go forward with confidence!

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