Q+A with Dorota Blumczyńska, Past CEO of IRCOM

April 1, 2021

Post Contributed By: Krysta Wojtowicz, Johnston Group,
Leadership Winnipeg Class of 2020-21

On March 26, 2021 our Leadership Winnipeg class was given the opportunity to connect virtually with Dorota Blumczyńska, CEO of the Manitoba Museum. Dorota is well-known for being a leading advocate for immigrant and refugee rights both as the President of the Canadian Council for Refugees and her previous role as Executive Director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM.)

We had an hour to learn from Dorota and ask questions in an open, honest and heart-felt way. While an hour may not sound like a lot of time the feedback within the team was overwhelmingly that people were leaving the meeting with pages upon pages of quotes, thoughts and tips to reflect on. She is an eloquent, authentic and inspiring speaker and I appreciate the opportunity we had to meet with her through the Leadership Winnipeg forum, that hour was worth its weight in gold! She’s overall a phenomenal leader that very clearly takes pride in lifting others up.

Dorota shared her origin story with us and her determination and grit shone through in every regard. She has overcome adversity and it was inspiring to hear that her journey came full-circle and brought her back to help people with struggles similar to those she had previously faced. Her story is a relatable one, I believe, for many people. My grandparents were also refugees from Poland and many of the struggles she spoke of echoed the stories told to me from my Babcia and Dziadzia, such as; the barriers of a learning a different language, needing support in a new community, and struggling to make connections and find belonging. Through her lived experiences she has been able to connect and lead people in a truly authentic way.

A common thread of advice that Dorota spoke of was to not shrink ourselves or put limits on what we wish to achieve. She encouraged us not to mold ourselves into the versions of leaders that we think that we need to be based on preconceived ideals. Rather, we need to hone our natural gifts and not allow others’ perceptions of what they believe to be our limits hold us back. By keeping to our authentic-selves (and unique lived experiences) we in turn offer the greatest value to our teams. We should listen to our inner voices and find the path(s) that speak to our soul, the magic happens when we’re following our purpose and take the seemly risky leaps. She advised that even in the event that the risk does not pay off in the way we had intended, there is still the value of a lesson learned.

“A hard day for the ego is a wonderful day for the soul.”

Dorota advised that we not be risk-adverse or shy-away from failure. She encouraged us to be the “crying” CEO/Executive Director, if that is our true self, and to not dull the edges of our unique personalities. She emphasized that it’s possible to balance leading with both your head and heart, and that strength and knowledge are most often found through failures. We learn from failing so jump whole-heartedly into what you love without reservation.

I’m so grateful for the time and lessons she shared with us. Dorota was very open with her experiences and shifts in careers, which made for an unparalleled learning experience. I wish her all the best in her future at the Manitoba Museum and know that I will be reflecting on her shared advice for years to come!


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