Meet Canada’s Most Pow­er­ful Women

Rotman Management Magazine - - CONTENTS - Com­piled by Karen Chris­tensen

A to­tal of 16 alumni of the Rot­man School of Man­age­ment were named to WXN’S Most Pow­er­ful Women in Canada rank­ing. We are pleased to in­tro­duce you to seven of them.

WXN’S ‘Canada’s Most Pow­er­ful Women: Top 100 Awards’ cel­e­brates the achieve­ments of strong fe­male lead­ers across the coun­try in the pri­vate, pub­lic and not-for-profit sec­tors. A to­tal of 16 Rot­man alumni— six MBAS, two Com­merce grads and eight grad­u­ates of Rot­man Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­grams—were named to the list for 2017-18. We are pleased to in­tro­duce you to seven of them. What is your great­est chal­lenge in your cur­rent role?

De­vel­op­ing a seam­less and ef­fec­tive tran­sit and trans­porta­tion sys­tem is ul­ti­mately about en­abling res­i­dents to live, work and play well. Meet­ing the needs of many peo­ple from all walks of life re­quires mak­ing com­plex choices in a con­strained fis­cal en­vi­ron­ment un­der con­di­tions of high pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions. This is a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge that re­quires sys­temic, in­ter­con­nected so­lu­tions. Nav­i­gat­ing this com­plex­ity is what en­er­gizes and ex­cites me about my work.

What unique com­bi­na­tion of skills got you here?

My early pro­fes­sional work as a prac­tis­ing ar­chi­tect pro­vided foun­da­tional skills that bridge be­tween cre­ative vi­sion and prac­ti­cal de­liv­ery. My ca­reer has ex­tended amongst pub­lic, not for profit and pri­vate sec­tors, and as well, be­tween mu­nic­i­pal and provin­cial roles. This di­ver­sity of per­spec­tives en­ables me to work with deep em­pa­thy for oth­ers and an abil­ity to find con­sen­sus on dif­fi­cult is­sues.

What does be­ing ‘pow­er­ful’ mean to you?

There is power by ti­tle (e.g. CEO or Pres­i­dent), but power that is gained through trust is more long last­ing and im­pact­ful. Be­ing pow­er­ful to me means be­ing in­flu­en­tial. Pow­er­ful lead­ers are a mag­net for oth­ers to fol­low. They en­able oth­ers to achieve things that they never imag­ined.

What is the best ad­vice you ever re­ceived?

Over my ca­reer I have re­ceived three re­ally im­por­tant pieces of ad­vice. First, re­la­tion­ships are more crit­i­cal to suc­cess than in­tel­lect or tech­ni­cal ap­ti­tude. Sec­ond, it’s very im­por­tant to know your­self and find a way to play to your strengths. This re­quires self-care, re­flec­tion and seek­ing out hon­est feed­back. Third, fail­ure is a gift from which we learn and grow.

How do you cre­ate value for busi­ness and so­ci­ety?

My work aligns with my val­ues in that I strive ev­ery day to en­sure that I am leav­ing this city and re­gion in bet­ter shape that I found it. This means at­ten­tion to cre­at­ing ben­e­fits for so­ci­ety, not just build­ings and hard struc­tures.

What are you most proud of?

I am so proud of the suc­cesses of the mentees, former staff and stu­dents, fam­ily and friends who I have coached or sup­ported over the years. While only they can take credit for their suc­cesses, it is with great pride that I get to wit­ness their growth and ac­com­plish­ments.

I am also proud of the recog­ni­tion I have re­ceived for my lead­er­ship roles, in­ter­na­tion­ally, pro­fes­sion­ally and in my vol­un­teer ca­pac­i­ties. When you are busy with your head down al­ways ‘do­ing’ and mov­ing things for­ward, it’s easy to for­get what has been ac­com­plished. These ac­knowl­edge­ments en­cour­age me to go even fur­ther.

What is your great­est chal­lenge in your cur­rent role?

Given the com­plex­ity of the global busi­ness that I run, be­ing able to adapt to chang­ing mar­ket con­di­tions and pivot quickly is re­ally im­por­tant. En­sur­ing that I use my time wisely to bal­ance the needs of the busi­ness, our clients and em­ploy­ees, and my com­mu­nity com­mit­ments is also a chal­lenge each day. Vis­it­ing clients in many coun­tries while manag­ing the deal vol­ume on the road re­quires a strong lead­er­ship team to share the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Be­ing or­ga­nized and hav­ing great tech­nol­ogy helps me bal­ance my work and fam­ily com­mit­ments. My fam­ily has been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive through­out my jour­ney. Our son and daugh­ter play NCAA hockey in the U.S., so trav­el­ling to watch them on week­ends is a top pri­or­ity and smart sched­ul­ing is crit­i­cal.

De­scribe the unique com­bi­na­tion of skills that got you to where you are to­day.

Con­fi­dence, strong com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, good an­a­lyt­ics and judg­ment have all helped to de­fine my lead­er­ship style and busi­ness acu­men. An­tic­i­pat­ing ques­tions or is­sues that we might face is im­por­tant, and prepa­ra­tion is key. Un­der­stand­ing our clients’ needs and be­ing able to struc­ture the best so­lu­tions for them has en­abled me to build strong re­la­tion­ships over many years. My up­bring­ing also helped to shape me as a leader. I was the youngest of six, with four broth­ers — great prepa­ra­tion for a ca­reer in the cap­i­tal mar­kets! My mother was an in­cred­i­ble role model who jug­gled a suc­cess­ful ca­reer and a large fam­ily, and my fa­ther was far ahead of his time in his sup­port of women’s ca­reers.

What does be­ing ‘pow­er­ful’ mean to you?

Be­ing pow­er­ful means hav­ing the abil­ity to give peo­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­flu­ence de­ci­sions and change out­comes. To be a good leader you need to cre­ate a cul­ture where peo­ple can drive their own ca­reers, but also en­sure they have the sup­port and men­tor­ing re­quired to suc­ceed. I use my po­si­tion to help in­flu­ence out­comes both at work and through the or­ga­ni­za­tions I sup­port.

What is the best ad­vice you have ever re­ceived?

There are a few pieces of ad­vice that I have car­ried with me through­out my ca­reer:

1. Fol­low your heart and your pas­sion when choos­ing a ca­reer and don’t fo­cus on bar­ri­ers along the way.

Be true to your­self; au­then­tic lead­er­ship is so pow­er­ful.

2. Sur­round your­self with peo­ple who ex­press their views, and

3. those who are al­ways will­ing to put the goals and ob­jec­tives of the team first.

Con­nect with peo­ple. Your re­la­tion­ships will get you in the 4. door and your knowl­edge and ex­per­tise will win the lead, so make both a pri­or­ity!

How does your com­pany cre­ate value for busi­ness and so­ci­ety?

Help­ing Clients Thrive and Com­mu­ni­ties Pros­per is how we de­fine our pur­pose at RBC. Di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion is a core value of the or­ga­ni­za­tion and one that dif­fer­en­ti­ates us from many other work­places. I love to con­nect, coach and ad­vo­cate for women in the cap­i­tal mar­kets, and en­cour­age them to feel em­pow­ered to take con­trol of their ca­reers. My role as Ex­ec­u­tive Spon­sor for the Toronto RBC Race for the Kids and the United Way’s Women United help me to ad­vance my sup­port for chil­dren’s men­tal health ini­tia­tives and en­able women to lift them­selves out of poverty.

What are you most proud of?

I am very proud of my team and the cor­po­rate lend­ing busi­ness we have built over the past decade. It has been a real priv­i­lege to pro­vide the op­por­tu­nity for so many peo­ple to de­velop and grow their ca­reers. I have al­ways been a big pro­po­nent of pro­mot­ing from within, be­cause it leads to a pos­i­tive work en­vi­ron­ment and a strong team cul­ture.

Pro­mot­ing di­ver­sity within my busi­ness has also been an im­por­tant pri­or­ity. To­day, women and vis­i­ble mi­nori­ties rep­re­sent 40 per cent of my di­vi­sion. We have also made progress with 21 per cent of women and 16 per cent of vis­i­ble mi­nori­ties in Manag­ing Direc­tor roles within my di­vi­sion. I would like to see these num­bers con­tinue to in­crease and am work­ing to en­hance both groups’ rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the busi­ness. Per­son­ally, I am very proud of my fam­ily and how we have sup­ported each other to achieve suc­cess.

“Be­ing pow­er­ful means hav­ing the abil­ity to give peo­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­flu­ence de­ci­sions and change out­comes.”

What is your great­est chal­lenge in your cur­rent role?

Manag­ing the un­ex­pected — which is a fact of life for every­one in busi­ness to­day. Things never go quite as planned, even when you’ve cov­ered all your bases and an­tic­i­pated prob­lems. You have to build re­silience and agility to tackle the un­ex­pected — and be able to make strong de­ci­sions with­out all the facts.

De­scribe the unique com­bi­na­tion of skills that got you here.

I would say it’s as much about mind­set as skillset, and for me, that means a few things. First, em­pa­thy. I try to put my­self in other peo­ples’ shoes, whether it’s a col­league or a client. Sec­ond, be­ing cu­ri­ous (which is both a bless­ing and a curse!) and coura­geous enough to take on big op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges when they present them­selves. One es­sen­tial skill that I con­tinue to work on ev­ery day is com­mu­ni­ca­tion. As hu­mans, we are hard-wired for in­ter­ac­tion, and that means be­ing able to ar­tic­u­late where we’re go­ing and why. Be­ing open to healthy de­bate on a reg­u­lar ba­sis is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant to suc­cess.

What does be­ing ‘pow­er­ful’ mean to you?

It means be­ing at your best while wear­ing many hats. I am a mother, a wife, a busi­ness leader and I’m also com­mit­ted to giv­ing back to my com­mu­nity. Each of these roles is pow­er­ful in its own right. When peo­ple come to­gether for a com­mon pur­pose — whether it’s fam­ily, a lead­er­ship team or a fundrais­ing com­mit­tee — the re­sults can be thrilling.

What is the best ad­vice you have ever re­ceived?

A men­tor of mine once said, ‘Act like the role you want to have’, which means step­ping up and not wait­ing to be asked. In a busy world where every­one has so much on the go, some­times you need to tap your­self on the shoul­der. Don’t wait for some­one else when you see that next op­por­tu­nity or chal­lenge.

How do you cre­ate value for busi­ness and so­ci­ety?

Bal­anc­ing com­mit­ments to all stake­hold­ers as we pur­sue our busi­ness strat­egy and strive to ful­fill our broader so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is some­thing that is en­grained at BMO. The strate­gic pri­or­i­ties that guide our de­ci­sion-mak­ing and de­sire to de­fine great cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence sit side-by-side with our so­cial, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal com­mit­ments to drive sus­tain­able growth. We walk the talk: From our com­mu­nity-build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties across North Amer­ica, to our BMO for Women ini­tia­tives fo­cused on help­ing women lead­ers and en­trepreneurs suc­ceed, to our com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment, we em­brace the phi­los­o­phy that do­ing good work comes in many forms.

What are you most proud of?

We are only as good as the com­pany we keep, and I feel so lucky to be sur­rounded by peo­ple who in­spire me. My fam­ily, my hus­band and my kids are a great source of pride. I also get to work with so many tal­ented col­leagues at BMO, and to­gether we ac­com­plish great things for our clients and share­hold­ers while also hav­ing some fun. I’ve also got­ten in­volved in the com­mu­nity and learn so much from many great role mod­els at Mount Si­nai Hospi­tal, Rot­man and else­where.

What is your great­est chal­lenge in your cur­rent role?

I’ve been at ebay for 12 years and, un­til re­cently, my work was fo­cused on the Cana­dian mar­ket. I re­cently took on the added re­spon­si­bil­ity of ebay Latin Amer­ica. In my new role, I’m re­spon­si­ble for en­gag­ing and grow­ing ebay’s com­mu­nity of buy­ers and sellers across more than 40 coun­tries, four lan­guages and three sites. I’m also charged with lead­ing the teams that are re­spon­si­ble for these re­gions. My im­me­di­ate chal­lenge is to quickly get up to speed on these new mar­kets and get to know the peo­ple. Next, I’ll have to quickly start de­vel­op­ing a big-pic­ture, long-term strat­egy that will ac­cel­er­ate our busi­ness in this re­gion’s rapidly de­vel­op­ing mar­ket.

De­scribe the unique com­bi­na­tion of skills that got you here.

With a BA in Medieval His­tory, I don’t bring any STEM skills to my role. My ‘soft’ or trans­fer­able skills are what have en­abled me to build my ca­reer. One un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated qual­ity that has served me very well is cu­rios­ity. My love of learn­ing has helped me thrive in man­age­ment roles where I lead dif­fer­ent de­part­ments, re­ceive a wide range of in­for­ma­tion, and need to un­der­stand a busi­ness from start to fin­ish. Hav­ing work that feeds my cu­rios­ity has kept me mo­ti­vated and has made the work fun and re­ward­ing. How­ever, per­haps the most im­por­tant qual­ity in a leader — and one I’m con­tin­u­ously learn­ing about — is the abil­ity to en­gage and mo­ti­vate a team. A col­lab­o­ra­tive and highly ef­fec­tive team is crit­i­cal to suc­cess, and that starts with learn­ing all you can about en­gage­ment and mo­ti­va­tion.

What does be­ing ‘pow­er­ful’ mean to you?

Be­ing pow­er­ful means hav­ing a plat­form and a re­spon­si­bil­ity to lead and in­flu­ence. This is some­thing I take se­ri­ously and

man­age ac­tively. As part of a small group of vis­i­ble fe­male tech lead­ers in Canada, I ap­pre­ci­ate my abil­ity to in­flu­ence women’s con­sid­er­a­tion of ca­reers in STEM. I make an ef­fort to share au­then­tic sto­ries about the re­al­i­ties, re­wards and chal­lenges of a ca­reer in tech, and I fo­cus on broad­en­ing the def­i­ni­tion of what a tech ca­reer can be, so it’s more in­clu­sive of di­verse pas­sions, in­ter­ests and skill sets.

What is the best ad­vice you have ever re­ceived?

As ba­sic as it may sound, it’s that no one is in charge of your ca­reer but you. This means that if you’re look­ing to be pro­moted or to gain new op­por­tu­ni­ties, you need to cre­ate the con­di­tions and line up the sup­port. Don’t wait for it to come to you.

How do you cre­ate value for busi­ness and so­ci­ety?

Small and medium-sized en­ter­prises (SMES) are the back­bone of the Cana­dian econ­omy and are vi­tal to ac­cel­er­at­ing our growth. At its core, ebay is a plat­form that con­nects mil­lions of buy­ers and sellers around the globe. As such, it cre­ates in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties for Cana­dian SMES look­ing to grow and scale be­yond our coun­try’s bor­ders. Thanks to ecom­merce plat­forms like ebay, a small busi­ness in a re­mote Cana­dian com­mu­nity can sell its goods to cus­tomers around the world. It’s amaz­ing to wit­ness — on a daily ba­sis — the power of tech­nol­ogy to en­able busi­ness and level the play­ing field, in com­merce and be­yond.

What are you most proud of?

I’m re­ally proud of the life that my hus­band and I have built to­gether. We have two amaz­ing chil­dren and we both have ca­reers that are chal­leng­ing and mean­ing­ful. De­spite the hec­tic na­ture of our life, we have a lot of fun to­gether as a fam­ily. While I’m re­ally proud of how far we have come, I’m su­per ex­cited to see where this jour­ney will take us.

What is your great­est chal­lenge in your cur­rent role?

In an in­dus­try that is con­tin­u­ously evolv­ing and highly com­pet­i­tive, suc­cess de­pends on be­ing in­no­va­tive and com­pet­i­tive, so I would say the great­est chal­lenge is to at- tract and re­tain great tal­ent. We have to wel­come the right peo­ple through the door, give them amaz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, and em­power them to con­trib­ute their ex­per­tise and ideas. It’s im­por­tant for our lead­er­ship team to sup­port peo­ple and cre­ate a learningori­ented cul­ture that em­braces change and can adapt to fu­ture chal­lenges.

De­scribe the unique com­bi­na­tion of skills that got you here.

A big part of it is be­ing fu­ture-ori­ented, com­bined with an abil­ity to get things done. I’ve al­ways been one to look ahead and try to fig­ure out how var­i­ous tech­no­log­i­cal, so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic shifts will trans­form our lives. Part of my role as a leader is to help cre­ate a vi­sion of where our busi­ness needs to go in or­der to be ready for what’s around the cor­ner.

The sec­ond piece is tac­ti­cal un­der­stand­ing — an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what it takes to ex­e­cute on our vi­sion. That in­cludes lay­ing out a path to an ob­jec­tive and pick­ing the right mo­ment to move and take cal­cu­lated risks; study­ing how stake­hold­ers will be im­pacted by de­ci­sions, and find­ing so­lu­tions that cre­ate value for every­one; and choos­ing the right team of peo­ple and mo­bi­liz­ing and en­er­giz­ing them. It also means know­ing where to push and where to ad­just, and be­ing re­lent­less in mov­ing to­wards the goal. When set­backs oc­cur, I need to help peo­ple prob­lem-solve and stay fo­cused on the things that will drive the great­est value.

What does be­ing ‘pow­er­ful’ mean to you?

Power means you’re in a po­si­tion to open doors, to in­flu­ence what peo­ple do and shape im­por­tant de­ci­sions that im­pact peo­ple’s lives. It’s both a priv­i­lege and a hum­bling re­spon­si­bil­ity.

What is the best ad­vice you have ever re­ceived?

Man­age to your strengths and don’t take your­self too se­ri­ously. Those are two pieces of ad­vice that res­onate for me. My dad en­cour­aged me to al­ways be pos­i­tive and be­lieve in my­self, and to never feel de­feated. He also taught me to build peo­ple up—to lead with kind­ness and hu­man­ity at the core. And my mom was a role model for dis­ci­pline, hard work and set­ting high ex­pec­ta­tions for your­self.

How do you cre­ate value for busi­ness and so­ci­ety?

We do some­thing in­cred­i­bly mean­ing­ful and im­por­tant: We help Cana­di­ans achieve fi­nan­cial well-be­ing. Through the net­work of pro­fes­sional ad­vi­sors that we sup­port and our dig­i­tal wealth ser­vices, we help peo­ple be­come more fi­nan­cially lit­er­ate, and lever­age their hard-earned money to be­come bet­ter off. We also strive to cre­ate a great place to work, with a di­verse team of

“Part of my role as a leader is to be ready for what’s around the cor­ner.”

peo­ple that val­ues do­ing the right thing for our part­ners and clients. I think good com­pa­nies take re­spon­si­bil­ity for all the im­pacts of their ac­tiv­i­ties and look to con­nect their so­lu­tions to chal­lenges fac­ing so­ci­ety — which is why I’m so proud that our com­pany is a leader in pro­vid­ing re­spon­si­ble in­vest­ing so­lu­tions.

What are you most proud of?

Our team. I’m proud of how we’ve grown and cre­ated value for our busi­ness and for so­ci­ety. In the be­gin­ning, we were a scrappy lit­tle on­line bro­ker­age with an un­be­liev­able team. Against all odds, through com­mit­ment, pas­sion, in­ge­nu­ity and hard work, we con­sis­tently out­per­formed much big­ger com­peti­tors. We con­tin­u­ally earned the right to build our dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and add prod­ucts and ser­vices to pro­vide an in­creas­ingly com­pre­hen­sive wealth of­fer­ing. To­day we are an in­dus­try leader that has in­flu­enced the agenda of wealth man­age­ment — es­pe­cially dig­i­tal wealth — in Canada.

What is your great­est chal­lenge in your cur­rent role?

CIBC an­nounced last year that we’re mov­ing 14,000 of our team mem­bers to a new global head­quar­ters called CIBC Square. In ad­di­tion to my cur­rent role, I was asked to take on ac­count­abil­ity for the tran­si­tion to CIBC Square as well as our Global Work­place Trans­for­ma­tion. The op­por­tu­nity is to make this less about the new build­ing and more about fur­ther en­trench­ing our client-fo­cused cul­ture. It’s an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity.

De­scribe the unique com­bi­na­tion of skills that got you here.

I’ve built my ca­reer by tak­ing lat­eral roles that helped me learn about a va­ri­ety of dis­ci­plines, tested my abil­ity to adapt and helped me grow my skillset. As I’ve taken on more re­spon­si­bil­ity and larger teams, I’ve been keenly aware of the im­por­tance of hir­ing to flesh out my own gaps. As a leader, un­der­stand­ing what you lack isn’t a sign of weak­ness; it’s a strength. From there, you can cre­ate high-per­form­ing teams. It’s also im­por­tant to know when to jump in and go deep when prob­lems come up. Be­ing able to di­ag­nose what truly needs to be done amidst all the noise and get­ting to the root of the is­sue has helped me and my team take cal­cu­lated risks and come up with so­lu­tions.

What does be­ing ‘pow­er­ful’ mean to you?

No mat­ter what I have ac­com­plished in my ca­reer, I couldn’t have done it with­out my fam­ily and ex­tended sup­port sys­tem. My par­ents, like many new im­mi­grants, came to Canada for a bet­ter life. They were never afraid of hard work and taught me the im­por­tance of hu­mil­ity and not tak­ing any­thing for granted. For me, the word pow­er­ful is about cre­at­ing pos­i­tive change — us­ing your in­flu­ence to sup­port the next gen­er­a­tion and be­ing part of an ex­tended net­work that helps them suc­ceed and leaves an or­ga­ni­za­tion in good hands long af­ter you’re gone.

What is the best ad­vice you ever re­ceived?

Know­ing where you’re headed is im­por­tant, but so is rec­og­niz­ing that the jour­ney is rarely a straight line. When some­thing changes or there is a shift, view it as a chance to pause and see if you need to ad­just your ap­proach or goals.

How do you cre­ate value for busi­ness and so­ci­ety?

CIBC sup­ports eco­nomic growth and pros­per­ity in many ways, but chief among them is by cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, sup­port­ing busi­nesses big and small and en­abling our clients to reach their fi­nan­cial goals. We are firmly in­ter­twined with and com­mit­ted to the fi­nan­cial suc­cess of more than 11 mil­lion clients. We also in­vest in so­cial is­sues that mat­ter. In 2017, CIBC in­vested more than $70 mil­lion in com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions across Canada and the U.S., in­clud­ing our long­stand­ing com­mit­ment to the CIBC Run for the Cure and sup­port­ing those liv­ing with can­cer. Our value goes well be­yond our cor­po­rate in­vest­ments: Our bank is made up of 45,000 peo­ple who are the heart of the bank and the face of CIBC to our clients. Thou­sands of our team mem­bers vol­un­teer in their com­mu­ni­ties, fundraise and fo­cus on serv­ing our clients ev­ery day.

What are you most proud of?

I had a lot of help along the way, so for me, it’s about pay­ing it for­ward. I’m par­tic­u­larly proud when I see some­one I’ve sup­ported get an op­por­tu­nity to tackle a new chal­lenge, get pro­moted or gen­er­ally do great things. Over my ca­reer, I’ve worked to en­sure that peo­ple are em­pow­ered and sup­ported. It’s very re­ward­ing when ev­ery­thing comes full cir­cle and you have played a small part in help­ing the next gen­er­a­tion reach their po­ten­tial.

“As a leader, un­der­stand­ing what you lack isn’t a sign of weak­ness; it’s a strength.”

In your cur­rent role, what is your great­est chal­lenge?

If there is one con­stant to­day, it is change. The le­gal mar­ket­place is adapt­ing as AI and other tech­nolo­gies change the way we de­liver ser­vices and the ex­pec­ta­tions of our clients, whose busi­nesses are also be­ing af­fected by tech­nol­ogy. A key chal­lenge is to see the op­por­tu­ni­ties amidst the dis­rup­tion and hone our busi­ness model to en­sure we are de­liv­er­ing the high­est value pos­si­ble to our clients.

De­scribe the unique com­bi­na­tion of skills that got you here.

Be­ing an en­gi­neer has been a great help in my le­gal ca­reer. En­gi­neers ap­proach is­sues with an an­a­lyt­i­cal mind­set and aim to solve prob­lems within a set of con­straints, whether they are the laws of ther­mo­dy­nam­ics or a fed­eral statute like the In­come Tax Act. I use the skills I learned as an un­der­grad­u­ate Engi­neer­ing stu­dent ev­ery day as a lawyer. My engi­neer­ing and law skills also help me bring value to boards. Hav­ing both gover­nance ex­per­tise and do­main ex­per­tise makes me a good fit. Be­ing on a va­ri­ety of boards — reg­u­la­tory, cor­po­rate, in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion and academia — helps me do ev­ery­thing I do bet­ter. It give me an even broader per­spec­tive on what my clients are fac­ing.

What does be­ing ‘pow­er­ful’ mean to you?

Be­ing pow­er­ful means hav­ing in­flu­ence to im­prove out­comes for peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions I be­lieve in.

How does your com­pany cre­ate value for busi­ness and so­ci­ety?

We help clients solve some of their most com­plex busi­ness prob­lems, which means syn­the­siz­ing le­gal ex­per­tise and busi­ness acu­men. We do this in a col­le­gial en­vi­ron­ment where we un­der­stand our clients as well as the larger busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment in which they op­er­ate. Be­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness gives us the plat­form to cre­ate value in so­ci­ety that we other­wise wouldn’t have. We are able to sup­port wor­thy causes, help lead vol­un­teer ini­tia­tives and ad­vo­cate for change. Per­son­ally, I was able to far ex­ceed my fundrais­ing goal for the True Pa­triot Love (TPL) ex­pe­di­tion to climb Vin­son Mas­sif in Antarc­tica thanks to the gen­eros­ity of my col­leagues. TPL is a na­tional char­ity that sup­ports mil­i­tary fam­i­lies and funds com­mu­nity-based pro­grams, and my work with them is on­go­ing.

What is the best ad­vice you ever re­ceived ?

Seize the op­por­tu­nity when it arises — not when you think you’re ready for it. If it’s an in­ter­est­ing and re­ward­ing as­sign­ment, it’s prob­a­bly a stretch as­sign­ment. Go for it. If you don’t get a queasy feel­ing from time to time, you’re prob­a­bly not push­ing your­self hard enough.

“Seize the op­por­tu­nity when it arises— not when you think you’re ready for it.”

LES­LIE E. WOOChief Plan­ning Of­fi­cer, METROLINX Alum­nae­ofthejudypro­ject

PATTI PERRAS SHUGART (MBA ’88)Manag­ing Direc­tor & Global Head, Cor­po­rate Bank­ing and Global Credit, RBC Cap­i­tal Mar­kets

AN­DREA STAIRS (JD/MBA ’00) GM, ebay Canada & Latin Amer­ica

JOANNA ROTENBERG (JD/MBA ’01)Group Head, Wealth Man­age­ment, BMO Fi­nan­cial Group

CATHER­INE WOOD (MBA ’08) Se­nior VP, Head of On­line & Dig­i­tal Wealth, Chief Mar­ket­ing & In­no­va­tion Of­fi­cer, Aviso Wealth

VENI IOZZO Ex­ec­u­tive Vice-pres­i­dent, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions & Pub­lic Af­fairs, CIBC Grad­u­a­te­ofrot­man/icd Direc­torse­d­u­ca­tion­pro­gram

CLAIRE KENNEDY Part­ner, Cor­po­rate Tax & Trans­fer Pric­ing Lawyer, Ben­net Jones Grad­u­a­te­oftherot­man/ Icd­di­rec­torse­d­u­ca­tion­pro­gram

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