Culture and Leadership Connections Podcast

Wanda Costen – Courage Never Quits

November 16, 2020 Marie Gervais Season 3 Episode 10
Culture and Leadership Connections Podcast
Wanda Costen – Courage Never Quits
Show Notes

Bio for Wanda Costen 

Doctor Wanda Costen is a professor and the Dean of the School of Business at McEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. Leading with integrity, she eliminates barriers to sustainable change by re-imagining how to prepare students for the 21st-century life of work and purpose.

Episode highlight

Wanda Costen was raised in the military, across different continents, and went through 3 careers before finding her sweet spot. Listen in on how she uses her understanding of culture and academia to make a difference.




“Even as little children, we have experiences that, later on in life, we realize, shape who we are.”

“Racism is taught, it’s a learned behaviour.”

“Racism doesn’t abide by some imaginary line we drew calling [it] a border.” 


Childhood incidents:

Wanda’s father served in the United States military, and the family moved every three-to-five years. This taught her and her brothers how to develop friendships quickly, adapt to one’s environment and view different cultures with openness. 

When she moved to Germany at age 11, she was befuddled when a young boy came up to her group of friends saying he would not play with her. 

Groups you were born into and belonged to: 

Wanda identifies first as an African American then as a woman. She was raised Catholic, but left the church because of the lack of inclusivity. 

She credits living in Germany for her directness, straightforwardness, and fortitude. She also imbibed punctuality, cleanliness, and the value of self-presentation from the Germans. 

Temperament and personality influences

Wanda’s elementary teachers had identified early on that she was gregarious, outgoing and an extrovert. She believes she is empathetic, transparent, and accountable.

Wanda struggled with having a “split personality” between her personal and professional life. She has worked hard to present her authentic self at work. 

A time I became aware that my way of doing things was cultural and specific to my cultural experience

When Wanda went to her friend’s house for Thanksgiving, she was taken aback by their grandiose, upper middle-class lifestyle, different from her humble upbringing. 

Advice to an employer to work with me

Wanda needs people working with her to follow four tenets:

  1. Set the path
  2. Describe the desired outcome
  3. Define the scope of responsibility
  4. Give meaningful and timely feedback

More great insights from our guest! 

“Courage is one of those values that I hold really dear”, says Wanda. She believes that it takes a lot of courage to be a high-quality, effective leader. 

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