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Yollanda is a mom, a teacher, an engineer, an innovator, and an entrepreneur on a mission. She is an engineer in her third career and has developed language, math and girl empowerment programs tailored to the needs of each student – because everyone has different strengths and opportunities that need to be celebrated. When she sees a need, she is excited to create a solution that will meet it. She’s the founder and director of two businesses: Panda Mandarin Language Programs and We Are Girl. Strong. Inc.

What do you want our readers to know about you?

I’m passionate about making a difference in the world through education.

What would you like to see more of in the workplace?

Balance and acceptance.

What characteristics and/or qualities do you admire in the women you work with?

Kindness, passion, and support.

What advice did you wish you were given earlier in your career?

Mental health challenges will be supported. The stigma will get much better.

How do you think COVID-19 will change the future of work for women?

Women’s careers are hugely impacted by COVID-19. I think this effect could have some positive impacts, too. Women will have to speak up more about needing flexibility and work expectations that are realistic.

How do you think we can increase diversity in the workplace?

Having role models are always helpful. Mentorship is important. Most importantly, be more intentional and not just pay lip service because it looks good.

What is one example of a positive, memorable experience you’ve had in your career?

One of the girls I taught three years ago was very shy and quiet. I always had to encourage her to share and to speak up so I could hear her. 

A few months into Girl. Strong., her classroom teacher stopped me in the hallway and asked me if I was the one teaching her. She described all the difference she’d seen from September to April and wanted to know how I managed to make such a difference in her confidence. 

A few months ago, the same girl who was so shy and couldn’t speak up won the Canadian finalist of the Leader in Me International Public Speaking Contest. This would have to be one of the most amazing experiences of my entire teaching career.

Where can people find you online?

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