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Forty Under 40 Award winner Q&A: Tamara White

This year’s cohort of recipients will be celebrated at an event Feb. 7, 2024

BIV is recognizing Tamara White, executive director of Small Housing, and 39 other exceptional business leaders as part of the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards cohort.

Longer Q&As with each recipient are included in BIV's annual Forty Under 40 Magazine (out in print Dec. 11). Award winners will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 7, 2024.

This profile may have been edited for length and clarity.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of growing the team and program of impact at my current organization, Small Housing. I was employee one, and within a short time, we expanded to five full-time staff and a core group of consulting partners. Most importantly, we're moving the dial on our mission. After years of advocacy and new provincial legislation rolling out in favour of multiplex homes, we are changing the landscape of housing options that will be available in neighbourhoods across B.C.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

Leaving a position that looked like my dream job on paper, but wasn't the right cultural fit. The culture of an organization is of paramount importance to the experience of working there, and what you can accomplish. I believe in the power of community, at every level, and think that it needs to be actively cultivated within the workplace – to be not just supportive, but healing and transformative.

How do you lead?

I lead differently, given the team and task at hand. I generally tend towards strategic and visionary styles, focusing on longer term objectives and forecasting opportunities. I most enjoy growing teams with shared values and a high level of trust and individual discretion.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned in business?

Surround yourself with purpose-driven colleagues who share in your passion, and make sure to enjoy and deepen those connections first and foremost. Within this workplace community and your broader professional community, take time to celebrate the big and small wins. (Yes, play and party hard. These bonds will serve you well.)

Best piece of advice ever received?

Don't fear failure; see it as a stepping stone to success. This mindset has been my compass, transforming setbacks into learning moments.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Experiment! Learn! Enjoy!

What's left to accomplish?

As an affordable housing professional working in B.C., let's just say: Lots. In order to boost housing supply, we really need to be looking at advancing the prefabrication and offsite construction sector. We also need better financing solutions so that everyday homeowners can consider building more homes on their properties. I love that I get to take a systems-approach to my work, constantly assessing the barriers and potential solutions to scaling up housing and directing my energies there.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge?

I'd like to thank my colleagues and board members who nominated me for this award – your initiative is more meaningful to me than the award itself, and it perfectly reflects your generosity and team spirit. Thank you. Thanks also to my life partner Tomas, who is ever encouraging and supportive in so many ways. You are the best breakfast chef a partner could ask for!

Read Q&As with all 40 award recipients here. Tickets to the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 7 are now available.