How Suzanne Trusdale’s personal journey shaped her role as a small business at TELUS. – Women of influence
By Sarah Kelsey
For the past year and a half, entrepreneurs have faced many, varied and entirely new challenges, all thanks to COVID.
Suzanne Trusdale, vice president of TELUS Small Business Solutions, can understand. Early in her career, she ran her own small business – a restaurant and catering business in Western Ontario. Today, she leads a team that not only provides day-to-day support to TELUS small business clients, but also creates initiatives and programs to enable entrepreneurs to thrive.
Running your own businessss brought bring it closer to those who want to follow an entrepreneurial path. “I always wanted to have my own business, long before college,” says Suzanne. “I went to Ryerson University in Toronto to study Hospitality Administration and thought that one day I was going to have my own restaurant and hopefully a catering business. “
After graduating, Suzanne spent a few years working for a prominent restaurateur. When they announced that they were going to sell one of their locations, she seized the opportunity. to get her started as a small business owner. Next to business partner and team, Suzanne built a strong brand and continued to develop the restaurant side of the business – enjoy every exciting moment and every challenge of his journey. That was until the recession of the late 1980s. After months of trying to stay solvent and keep things afloat, she realized she had to make the very difficult decision to shut down. business.
“This all happened before I was 30,” she says. “If you come from a place where you go from college to fulfilling your dreams of losing everything and having to start all over again… it’s intimidating. “
Ready to start over, she moved from Ontario to British Columbia and eventually accepted a position with BC Tel, a telephone company that merged with TELUS in 1998 to become the second largest telecommunications company in Canada.
“If you come from a place where you go from college to fulfilling your dreams of losing everything and having to start all over again… it’s intimidating. “
“I thought I would go there a bit, but that I would eventually come back to what excited me: hosting and creating another business. Instead, Suzanne had the opportunity to expand her role at TELUS and bring some of her passion for small businesses to the roles she accepted. “I have been able to build a wonderful career in a field that fascinates me enormously. Some might say that I have the best of both worlds.
Suzanne credits mentoring and sponsorship – having internal champions who have helped guide her and connect her with opportunities – for playing a key role in her career growth. It also became a point of passion for her; She regularly volunteers her time with organizations that seek to advance opportunities for women and girls, especially in STEM. She has also served as the global co-chair of TELUS Connections, a resource group that seeks to empower and create development and leadership opportunities for women within the organization.
Lately, Suzanne has focused on leading her team to help support small businesses as they navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic. “There was a lot of panic last March. What has been so inspiring is how quickly the majority of small businesses have been able to pivot. Some were able to go faster because they had a great digital infrastructure, and we’ve seen an influx of organizations offering products that allow small businesses to connect with their customers in new ways, ”she notes. . “TELUS is one of those key partners for small business owners. We have been able to offer tools and products to help small businesses and entrepreneurs move from physical to digital stores, or vice versa.
Suzanne played a key role in advocating for TELUS ‘small business clients through the ideation of the now viral campaign called #StandWithOwners. The initiative has done everything from surprising business owners with gift certificates to giving them the funds they need to bolster their digital presence or improve their advertising. Since mid-2020, TELUS has invested $ 1.5 million (and more) in the entrepreneurial community.
“I’m proud of so many things we’ve done this year, but this one is close to my heart,” notes Suzanne. “TELUS has done so much to give back and it is so important to me as a team member, as a Canadian and as a businesswoman.
“It takes a ton of courage to ask for help. But why not defend yourself? Why not be your biggest advocate and participate and see who can help you? “
The “she-cession” – a term coined to describe the uneven impact COVID has had on working women – was difficult for Suzanne to witness firsthand. “If you think about the pressure of balancing home and work, especially when the sectors that have been hit the most are sectors led by women, everyone has a breaking point,” she says. “It’s unfortunate to see so many women forced to choose between providing for their families and their careers. This is the wrong direction we need to take in Canada.
The two big things Suzanne wants women entrepreneurs struggling under these COVID circumstances to know is that they are not alone, and “that too will pass.”
“I think so many female entrepreneurs feel lonely, but they don’t. Women aren’t really good at saying ‘I’m about to give up or close and just need help,’ ”she notes. “It takes a lot of courage to ask for help. But why not defend yourself? Why not be your biggest advocate and participate and see who can help you? “
His advice to small business owners is to take a step back and assess the stress of the times and the “tyranny of the present.” She says it’s always best to “stop, calm down, breathe and step back for a second,” so she knows who to lean on for support.
“If a person does not have a mentor or coach and is not actively working with an organization that can provide education and advice – organizations like local chambers of commerce and women of influence – they need to start. enjoy, ”she said. said. “There are so many people and businesses out there who want to help small businesses and entrepreneurs. All anyone has to do is reach out and ask.