What is your com­pany’s mis­sion state­ment? The mis­sion of McMaster In­no­va­tion Park is to de­velop and sus­tain an en­vi­ron­ment that fa­cil­i­tates and ac­cel­er­ates in­no­va­tion, the trans­fer of knowl­edge and the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of re­search re­sult­ing in eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment; en­cour­ages suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion among pri­vate sec­tor, govern­ment, hospi­tal, univer­sity and col­lege re­searchers and ed­u­ca­tors; is aligned with and lever­ages the re­search strengths of McMaster Univer­sity and has global re­search re­sult­ing in re­gional pros­per­ity; ed­u­cates and ex­cites the com­mu­nity about the vi­tal role of the univer­sity in the in­no­va­tion process and about new devel­op­ing tech­nolo­gies and the jobs and pros­per­ity they bring.


What ad­vice have you re­ceived that has helped you the most? Be your­self. Be gen­uine. Peo­ple gen­er­ally pick up when you are be­ing phoney and will re­spect you less.


Can you think of a mo­ment in your life that pushed you to be­come who you are? A defin­ing mo­ment? In my late twen­ties I was cho­sen for jury duty and af­ter we had heard from the de­fen­dant, we were ready to cru­cify the ac­cused. By the end of the week, we found the ac­cused not guilty af­ter hav­ing heard his side of the is­sues and his wit­nesses. The great­est les­son I learned was that there are two sides to ev­ery story and to try to find out what they are be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion.


Can you think of a time in your ca­reer where things were not go­ing well, but you man­aged to turn it around? How did you per­se­vere? The term “work de­fines you” is so true and one I ex­pe­ri­enced when I was down­sized. What was I to do with my day, how would I pay the bills, etc.? Some­one told me to make an ap­point­ment ev­ery morn­ing with some­one to go for cof­fee ... This got you up and dressed and out of the house. An­other per­son told me to call all of my con­tacts and ask if I could meet with them for 10 min­utes to pick their brains on their most defin­ing mo­ment. Peo­ple love to tell you about them­selves and many peo­ple talked to me. Both of these ac­tions kept me mov­ing for­ward and feel­ing good about my­self and within a very short pe­riod of time I had a great new po­si­tion and one that I would not have looked for had I not been down­sized.


What are the key prin­ci­ples that guide you in your day-to-day life? Ad­mit when I make a mis­take. Say I am sorry if I have been a lit­tle harsh. Be hon­est. Ad­mit that I don’t know some­thing but also say that I will go find out about it. Al­ways be cu­ri­ous. Keep a strong net­work of friends and col­leagues around you. Stay in touch with them.


What makes you laugh? Slap­stick com­edy.


What is your guilty plea­sure? Salty foods.


What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I sold life in­sur­ance for Canada Life. I learned that I can fail and sur­vive. I can say, “I can’t do this,” and walk away and life goes on. I learned to be able to walk in cold in any sit­u­a­tion and be able to present an idea.


What do you do to wind down from work? Golf. I be­long to a ladies’ league. We have so much fun. And yoga. It re­ally stretches the ten­sion from your body. And I de­vour books. It is my es­cape to an­other place. Sudoku.


How do you mo­ti­vate peo­ple? By set­ting goals and ex­pec­ta­tions and set­ting a good ex­am­ple.


What is your big­gest pet peeve? Peo­ple who com­plain but do not come up with a so­lu­tion and if they do have a so­lu­tion, will do noth­ing to move it for­ward.


What are you good at? Be­ing able to pull away from the day to day minu­tiae to see the big pic­ture. Be­ing in­tu­itive about pulling facts com­ing at you from all di­rec­tions to lead to a sound de­ci­sion.


What do you want to work on? Say­ing “no” to be­ing in­volved. At one time I was on 10 boards and had to start cut­ting back. I have promised my hus­band I would get down to two. I am on four, so al­most there!


What is on your bucket list? Liv­ing/work­ing in Europe.


What is Hamil­ton’s most valu­able as­set? Di­ver­sity of peo­ple. Art com­mu­nity.


What is the city’s big­gest li­a­bil­ity? Think­ing we are less than Toronto. Coun­cil mem­bers who lis­ten too much to their con­stituents rather than what is good for the over­all city.


How do you bal­ance your life? By plan­ning fun week­ends and va­ca­tion trips. Be­ing with my fam­ily and friends.


What is your favourite spot in Hamil­ton? Cootes Par­adise.


What do you think peo­ple would be sur­prised to know about you? I was born in Huntsville and shortly there­after moved with my par­ents to France un­til my early teens.


What ad­vice would you give to young en­trepreneurs? Net­work con­tin­u­ously. You learn so much from other peo­ple and how other com­pa­nies do things, and it is a great way to bounce ideas and prob­lems you have in your day job. Join the Cham­ber of Com­merce. Join a group such as Ro­tary to give back to your com­mu­nity.


What is your dream job? My hus­band would say chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of a win­ery but there are so many in­dus­tries that I would like to be in­volved in ... life is just too short. That is why I stud­ied for and at­tained my char­tered direc­tors’ des­ig­na­tion so that I can con­tinue to be in­vited to sit on var­i­ous boards. I get to in­ti­mately re­view many niche mar­kets and or­ga­ni­za­tions and get in­volved in mak­ing de­ci­sions for them. As a CPA I am of­ten asked to sit on the au­dit, finance and risk com­mit­tees but I can then move from there to the strate­gic and chair level, which is where I en­joy the most chal­lenges.

Ruth Liebers­bach, McMaster In­no­va­tion Park’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

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