Maninder Dhaliwal, A Leading Woman Corporate Director In Canada – From Ludhiana!

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GirlsXP in its endeavor to serve its readers, inspirational and successful stories of women, is honored to bring  to its readers, an informal chat with Maninder Dhaliwal. She is an award winning entrepreneur, successful investor, and an experienced Corporate Director. She specializes in India focused international venture projects in technology, manufacturing and infrastructure. A Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 under 40 winner, she received her Masters in Electrical Engineering from University of British Columbia, and Executive Education from Harvard Business School. Coming from India in 1999 with very little money, she made a highly effective transition in her career from an Electrical Engineering academic background to becoming a very successful woman in Entrepreneurship, Investment and Strategic management.
Maninder Dhaliwal

She holds the Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) designation from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia; and Corporate Director Designation (ICD.D) from the Institute of Corporate Directors. In 2015, Maninder was chosen for Diversity 50 – Canada’s most diverse and eligible board candidates – by Canadian Board Diversity Council.

Her extensive board governance experience includes positions ranging from Board Chair, Executive Committee member, Audit Committee Member, Nomination Committee member, and Lead Independent Director.

“What if, what you think is your greatest flaw is actually your superpower?” – Maninder

As a corporate director, Maninder possesses high-level pedigree of competency and experience in the fields of information technology, cyber security, strategic information management, risk management, emerging markets, finance, and audit

We recognize that Maninder has a busy schedule and hence all the more appreciative and thankful for her time in sharing a few thoughts with our readers.

1. If its true that you arrived in Canada with next to nothing in terms of financial support, it must have been very hard in the initial years. Can you share your highlights and low-points during that specific time? We ask this since it is easy to ride  the success but difficult to face the hardships  – We want our readers to know more on how to ride the hard times.

She: I was very lucky. There were no hard times for me in immigrating to Canada. I had a full scholarship from University of British Columbia to do my graduate degree in electrical engineering. Canada is a very compassionate, open and welcoming country. It was love at first sight for me, and it has only grown stronger. I didn’t have a lot of money. But I had excellent friends, opportunities to get involved in the local community and its charitable causes, and being mentored by some of the most successful people in Vancouver has been a blessing.

2. Could you tell us a little more on your background – Something that we don’t know form your social networks and public profiles?- Which part of India, you hail from and where was  your formative years of schooling? How did you land up in Canada for education?

She: I was born in Ludhiana in Punjab. I came to Canada for graduate school when University of British Columbia offered me a scholarship to study there.

3. Now to the cliche question – We need to ask this 🙂 – Electrical Engineering to being a successful Entrepreneur and strategic management – What are the connecting dots? Or the dots were more like huge boulders to make this transition? How did you go about this transition?

She: Can’t say that I made the transition from engineering per se. Engineering is a way to solve problems. I think of it as a formal method to quickly analyze the available data, and zero in on the important information. I use this skill every day whether I am analyzing investment opportunities, or advising companies as a corporate board director.

With the forces of technology and globalization at work, world is changing very fast. New industries are being created constantly, and old industries are disappearing. By the time young people who are in school today join the workforce, they will likely have job descriptions that don’t exist today.

Business skills are like pieces of Lego. You can use them various combinations based on the situation you are in. The trick is to be a life-long learner, and not be too hung up on definitions.

4. How rewarding is this pursuit? If a reader of ours would like to pursue a similar path compared to a little run of the mill careers (we don’t want to name any), how rewarding this can be? Monetarily as well as self fulfillment?

She: For every person, there’s a sweet spot between three forces – your skills and talents, what the world needs and will pay for, and what you are passionate about. If you can build a career in that, it will be both financially rewarding and personally fulfilling.

Yes, I would say that my career is in what is a sweet spot for me.

Maninder Dhaliwal

5. What were the most challenging moments in your career and how were they addressed?  This could be from as early as your schooling days to the current day.

She: Challenges and setbacks come with the territory. When you are taking risks, you will fail now and then. The trick is to fail fast, fail forward, fail cheap and move on.

6. How much of family and friends influence has gone into shaping the successful career that you have? How have they been helpful? We want our readers to know that sometimes, family and friends can guide you a lot with their experience. Also tell us a little more personal stuff about you – Family, friends etc.,

She: My parents have been a very strong, supportive force in my life. My father is a retired engineer and my mother is a retired school teacher. My father taught me my love for science and math, and my mother taught me my love for learning. I am very grateful for such parents.

7. What do you like to do to unwind and declutter? Bollywood movies, yoga, workout, hiking or watching paint dry? Or anything else? What do suggest to our readers to maintain a balance between work and life? Recharge techniques?

She: I love yoga, especially yin yoga, and I run long distance. Wherever I travel, my yoga mat and running shoes go with me. I also meditate daily.

8. If an aspiring reader wants to pursue a similar career like yours, where do they start and how do they go about it?

She: I am a working class kid from Ludhiana, Punjab, if I can do it, anyone can. I have found great education to be the key to opening all kinds of doors in life. Get the best education you can, and find a way to move to a place with greater opportunity. Always remember to dream big and believe in yourself.

One of my mother’s favourite phrase is – Where you start, should never limit how far you can go.

9. We would like our young readers to consider entrepreneurship as one of the alternate careers – It can be from  setting up a tailoring shop or can be setting up a unit for nanomites production. Does it even make sense to consider some general rules and advice on setting up one’s own business. If yes, what are they?

She: Entrepreneurship is the most rewarding career there is. When starting out, I would recommend finding a mentor – someone who is successfully doing what you want to do. Join entrepreneurship groups in your town to meet like minded people. If a group does not exist where you are, start one.

11. Please share any thoughts that you would like our readers to know – It could be anything under the sun.

She: I have learned that the road to success is always under construction; there are no traffic jams along the extra mile, one’s ability to succeed is always proportional to one’s willingness to fail, and very often a stubborn attitude towards the possibility of a positive outcome is the only thing standing between enduring and giving up.

Be kind. Listen more. Change your mind when it’s warranted. Care about people who are different from you. And above all believe in yourself and your ability to make it happen. What if, what you think is your greatest flaw is actually your superpower?

On behalf of the entire reader community and GirlsXP team, we would like to once again thank you for the time and attention to this. We deeply appreciate this gesture and hope that our readers are inspired to build their own success stories.

Also Read: Meet Sudha Moola, An Award Winning Interior Designer

Maninder Dhaliwal can be reached at
Twitter @dhaliwalmk, and Instagram @maninderdhaliwal