Tamara Seales, president of Seaford Pharmaceuticals Inc., is proudly carrying on the legacy established by her father when he founded the family-owned company in Mississauga in 1991. This is a specialty pharmaceutical company that develops strategic partnerships with physicians and health-care professionals in Canada and abroad to develop niche products in the therapeutic areas. Their basket includes products for women’s health, digestive health and skin care, leading products in hospitals such as Seacalphyx, and at the pharmacy level, Drysol, the No. 1 doctor recommended antiperspirant to help prevent excessive sweating.
Tamara holds a degree in business from York University and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business. She started working at the family business after university and made it her mission to learn every aspect of the company, from human resources and accounting prior to taking on the role of president.
1. What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
“I like that every day is different. This year, I am celebrating 22 years with the company, but at times I feel like a neophyte as there’s always so much to learn. Just when I’ve mastered all aspects of one product, another one comes along, and I am humbled to start learning again. I like that my job keeps me on my toes.”
2. Do you have a hero or mentor?
“Definitely my father. He’s in his 80s and I have realized that I need to stop relying on Dad for answers. Recently I had a challenge, but before I made the call to Dad, I compelled myself to come up with a solution before going to him for his advice. He has always challenged me to think creatively to problem-solve and to develop contingency plans for when things don’t go as planned.
“There are other mentors, such as Indra Nooyi who was the CEO of Pepsi. As a CEO with a family, she said in a speech that there is no such thing as work-life balance — you don’t get to have it all. Instead, she came up with strategies. She used the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ analogy and says she relies on her assistant and others to do things like call her kids to make sure their homework is done.”
3. What have been the most significant challenges you have faced and how were you able to overcome them?
“I have two answers: the day-to-day challenge of raising three girls during COVID, while trying to run a company from home. The other challenge happened 15 years ago when my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within nine months. I was always questioning — should I be at the hospital spending time with my mom or should I be at work keeping the company running. We really came together as a family and took turns being with Mom. I was also honest with my staff who were very supportive.”
4. How do you manage work-life balance?
“My family is an exercise in constant insanity! We have three girls aged eight, 10 and 12, who play competitive hockey, are in dance and other activities. My husband is an executive. Our lives are busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I thrive on intensity but am very organized and have a great support system. Good communication with my husband is key — we work as a team and are like-minded in wanting to create opportunities for our girls.”
5. Do you have a mantra?
“If you are going to do it, do it 110 per cent or don’t do it at all!”
6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
“To differentiate between what is urgent and what is important. There’s always some burning problem that seems urgent, but rather than burning myself out, I step back and tackle the things that are most important to generate revenue to keep the company moving forward, or issues that only I can address. I delegate other issues to my team to handle.”
7. What advice would you offer to young people starting out their career?
“It sounds cliché but believe in yourself and try to minimize your self doubt. I doubted myself in the early days and saw others who had a ‘fake it until you make it’ attitude excel. I’m better off believing in my ability to figure things out one way or another.”
8. How do you get involved in the community?
“Both of my parents were born in the Caribbean and our organization established the Seaford Foundation, which sends money and pharmaceutical products to the Caribbean. I am personally involved with BlackNorth and Black Opportunity Fund, which was founded in 2020 following the death of George Floyd.”
9. What book is on your nightstand?
“I’m in a fantasy phase so the book I am reading is ‘A Court of Silver Flames’ by Sarah J. Maas.”
10. What do you do for fun or to relax (hobbies, interests, creature comforts you enjoy)?
“I love to dance — show me a dance floor and I’ll be in my happy place. I’m also an avid reader and crafter.”
11. What’s something about you that others may not know?
“That I can be introverted and like my personal space.”