Carina Meyer shares why she values courage

First National Financial LP Mar 16, 2023   mins

Carina Meyer, IT Business Analyst, Toronto, shares what it was like growing up in South Africa, why she values courage and what #EmbraceEquity means to her.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we are profiling several inspiring women on our team. These women lead by how they live in the world, how they share their wisdom through their actions and integrity and how they show up every day. Carina Meyer, IT Business Analyst, Toronto, shares what it was like growing up in South Africa, why she values courage and what #EmbraceEquity means to her. 

Q: Tell us your story in your own words.

CM: I grew up in South Africa with a lot of strong, independent women surrounding me. My father’s mother was widowed at a young age with three young kids. She went against the conventions of Afrokaans culture during that time period and kept her farm and kept my dad with her. My mother’s mother was known as the wild grandma. She was a rebel. When she was a teenager, she would go to the derby in town and race the farmers’ horses even though her dad forbade it. My mother had similar strength. She didn’t wait for people to do what she wanted. The way these three women lived their lives had a huge impact on me. 

Growing up in South Africa, life in a Christian, Afrokaans community was very conservative. There was an expected path – school, maybe higher education, marriage and kids. After high school, I went to work at an aviation company. That’s where I broadened my horizons and started to think for myself. But I did end up following the prescription and chose an “acceptable” life of marriage and two kids. In time, I realized it was important to be happy within yourself, face your fears and live your life. I ended my marriage and fell in love with an amazing person. We got married 11 years ago and have a wonderful son together. When the opportunity came up to move to Canada, it was an easy decision for me. I wanted to show my kids that there is so much more to life than the prescription. If I could pick up my life and move to Canada at 50 years old, there isn’t anything that is out of their reach. When we arrived, we were very clear that we wanted to become active participants in our community and contribute meaningfully to the economy.

Q: Why does the word courage resonate with you to exemplify how you live in the world?

CM: There are so many women in similar situations to mine. They are stuck in circumstances that don’t resonate with their truth. They are living by someone else’s rules. Breaking free of the image of how you are supposed to live takes courage. It is brave to step up for yourself as an individual, live the life you’re passionate about, reach goals that you define and realize your own dreams. Fear drives so many of our decisions. It takes an immense amount of courage to overcome those fears and step into the unknown confidently. 

Q: From your life experiences, what wisdom do you want to share with other women?

CM: You are enough. It’s the biggest fear that holds women back. Make your life decisions from your heart to reflect your true self. When I started to do that, a whole new world opened up for me. My whole career changed. Strive in your career and do everything to the best of your ability. The outcomes will always follow. You will be a success. When you can conquer your fears and know that you are enough exactly as you are, the world will open up to you in ways you never imagined. 

Q: As a woman, what is it like to work at First National and what inspires you?
CM:
 I worked for a big corporate company in South Africa. It wasn’t a fit for my personality. When I found the role at First National, I went on the web site to learn more. One little phrase caught my attention – how we show up for each other every day. My interview with Mika Hasanen was so comfortable and disarming. When I came in my first day, the diversity of the team stood out for me. Right away, I felt the respect that anchors the culture. Everybody is standing there with their hands out offering to help. We are all there for each other to make sure that nobody gets left behind. Everyone has a purpose on the team, and everyone is valued. For me, empathy is the most important measure of true leadership. I walked into a new company, in a new country, in a new culture and was accepted without question and cared for immediately because I was there and part of the team. 

Q: #EmbraceEquity is the theme for International Women’s Day 2023. What does that mean to you?

CM: Equity acknowledges diversity and inclusion for everyone and must be part of every society’s DNA. But it starts with each person in their own life. It is up to each of us to be conscious and intentional about embracing equity in our personal lives, communities and places of work. Earlier I mentioned how much First National’s focus on “the way we show up for each other” resonated with me. And equity is so much a part of that. As we all continue to embrace equity consciously in our personal lives, our workplace, culture and team will benefit and flourish.

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