Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden – Mélanie Dunn – CEO, Cossette

COSSETTE CEO, Mélanie Dunn (@melaniedunnmtl) believes there is nothing stronger than corporate culture. An established industry leader behind the communications powerhouse, Mélanie cites real-time adaptation, team bench strength and aligned corporate values as critical factors for individual and organizational success. Boyden’s Sébastien Zuchowski and Chantal Hevey sat down with Mélanie to talk leadership, talent, and why true diversity can’t take shape without a pivotal culture change.

BOYDEN: What would you say are the cornerstones of your success?

MÉLANIE:  I would not be where I am today if my organization’s culture and values were not aligned with mine.  At Cossette, I worked in several departments and occupied different positions which allowed me to grow in new ways. I also believe in the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. A key here is to understand your own strengths and weaknesses and how to work with colleagues that magnify those strengths and offset any weaknesses. I have always stayed true to these beliefs.

BOYDEN: Engaging talent is critical to achieving success. How do you ensure to engage all generations of talents?

MÉLANIE: We place more emphasis on a person’s personality and leadership qualities than on their belonging to a certain generation. We hire from all generations. What we have realized is that your generation does not really define your profile. You can be a Gen Xer with Millennial characteristics and vice versa. Individuality and diversity are therefore all the more important. This concept is also key when bringing brands to the market as we stopped targeting large homogeneous groups and instead focus on individual behaviours.

BOYDEN: As you look at the sector and the leadership landscape, is enough being done to drive real change and move towards greater diversity?

MÉLANIE: What motivates me is how much we have yet to accomplish. We had a long time to think about how we encourage women to be more ambitious, help in their career development and in motivational programing. But this phase has run its course as it’s now up to organizations to change and adapt. Quotas have helped us gain a lot of ground but there is a reason why women are not selected above the quota limit, and that is due to board and organizational culture. Boards need to pivot towards being authentic when it comes to attracting diverse talent and make changes within the organization instead of pushing quotas.

BOYDEN: How does gender diversity fit within Cossette’s mission and within your leadership team?

MÉLANIE:  I feel a responsibility on our part to ensure that our brands express themselves by realistically representing today’s population – the people we see and the subjects in our advertising, social media, and websites. In order to express brands and still manage to offer a quality and creative product that remains realistic, you need diversity. And the only way to obtain this balance is to have a diverse team that produces the work. Thus, if our people don’t accurately represent the population, they will not be able to help a brand become relevant to today’s target markets.

BOYDEN: You are leading in the era of disruption. How do you ensure Cossette continues to evolve in light of constant change and competition?

MÉLANIE: We are in the business of communications, marketing, and media where innovation is constantly present. What we are doing for our clients today is totally different from what we were doing just a year ago, wherein lies the importance of adapting to change in real time. The ability to always question is key. The time of five-year plans has come and gone. Changes in technology, new possibilities, personal transformations and political shifts have assured this. At Cossette, we are making important changes in the way that we operate our organization by turning towards a more agile methodology. It really emphasizes the real-time adaptation of processes against up-and-coming challenges.

BOYDEN: Does it feel as if you’re going through a constant state of renewal?

MÉLANIE: Yes, but at the same time the reality is that there is no longer an ending nor a beginning. The hamster wheel is always spinning, that is why you must appreciate the present moment.

BOYDEN: How does that translate in your leadership style?

MÉLANIE: You have to accept that there is no status quo or certainty; it’s a world of adaptations. Surround yourself with people that are comfortable with change. My expectations towards my employees must also change. I myself have to adapt to new realities and trust my team.

BOYDEN: Is there more proximity in those moments?

MÉLANIE: Yes, I think that’s a good point, genuine and honest relationships favour a climate of change, of asking questions and of transformation. Leadership that’s aligned with this culture helps so that there is acceptance that mistakes will happen because everything is changing so quickly but also of generosity towards the new reality.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

MÉLANIE: It is important to make informed choices before taking your next step. Seek an organization where harmony exists between company culture and what you want to accomplish in your career. There is nothing more difficult than going against a culture, especially for a leader, but nothing easier than being yourself at work and feeling like you can grow in a natural and authentic way.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on the Boyden website.

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About the authors:

Sébastien Zuchowski and Chantal Hevey are part of Boyden’s Montréal team.  A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Connect with them on Twitter: @BoydenCanada @SebZuchowski@ChantalHev  

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden – Dr. Catherine Zahn – President & CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

CENTRE FOR ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH (@CAMHnews) President & CEO, Dr. Catherine Zahn (@CatherineZahn), is at the core of healthcare leadership in Canada. Not immune to feeling discrimination along her own path, Catherine is a strong advocate for mentorship and inclusion, challenges the status quo, and envisions a future where leadership reflects the populations they serve. Her support in the advancement of women in healthcare is reflected in the conscious steps she takes towards removing these barriers. Boyden’s Brian G. Bachand sat down with Catherine to talk career drivers, leadership, and the diversity challenges that continue to face us today.

 

BOYDEN: How have your personal passions guided and impacted you throughout your career?

CATHERINE: I’ve had a passion for helping people that dates back to my first job as a nurse’s aide. I find that being a caregiver has been a crucial factor for my success in healthcare leadership. Down the line, the transition into leadership roles was rather intuitive. As a neurologist, I could only help a handful of patients a day however, in a leadership position in neurology, neuroscience or mental health I can create the conditions that support others to help so many more. It becomes very engaging to find that you have the strength and wherewithal to do that. Although I’m in a leadership role, in my heart I’m a physician.

BOYDEN: How do you feel that translates into your leadership style?

CATHERINE: I hope to be known for how I mentor people into leadership positions. I use skills that other mentors have taught me. One of my favourite mentors once told me that to accomplish something as a leader, you have to be able to describe your vision and you have to speak to values that are greater than your own self interest. I’ve since added to that message – to know your own values and principles and never go off-brand. If you lead from principles and base them on your values and vision, your decisions will be unassailable.

BOYDEN: Talent engagement is critical to achieving success.  How do you achieve that?

CATHERINE: My ideal team is a group of people who are able to take risks and have a bias towards action, yet at the same time, work interdependent as a team. So I seek people who are highly adept or have great potential. I try to make my expectations clear. When it comes to team development, I try to be aware of where people are at in their career trajectory. I strongly believe if you’re able to maintain your curiosity of the world, you maintain your creativity, so I try to mentor people with that in mind. I’m open to the possibility that my team members have skills and experiences that I don’t have – and I appreciate receiving mentorship from them.

BOYDEN: There is more attention to diversity today but we are still far from where we should be. From your observations, what does diversity look like within healthcare? 

CATHERINE: There are groups of individuals in our society that don’t benefit from the miracles of modern science and this I know from experience. It’s important to appreciate the issue of intersectionality too. Being a woman who is a member of another disadvantaged population – for example someone with African-Caribbean heritage, or a member of the LGBTQ community – can have a much more difficult experience. I’m learning to be alert to that and work with members of these communities to correct it.

BOYDEN: How does diversity, gender or otherwise, fit within your hiring strategy? 

CATHERINE: I am in favour of setting targets and making it a priority as we want our staff and leadership to reflect the population that we serve. We are not there but it is very much in my consciousness as I strive to understand how to make our diverse organization equitable and inclusive. I’m extremely vocal in environments where we hear “We can’t just hire for diversity, we want the best people.” I counter with: “If you want the best people, why would you eliminate most of the population from consideration?”

BOYDEN: What, in your view, are the key obstacles preventing greater representation of women in these critical roles?

CATHERINE: I think we talk about change incorrectly – we start out by saying change is so hard and in doing so we make people resistant. This influences the idea that there is an option not to change and that’s not the case. We can be inspired by change. In today’s world, what’s intriguing to me about women in leadership is that it’s clearly not about lack of skilled, experienced and competent people – after all, women are a visible majority. It’s always about maintaining power. People make assumptions about you based on your sex and have schemas about gender so, in short, the obstacle is sexism. The argument that you can’t find a woman who is strong enough or smart enough – or who wants to do the job – is simply bogus.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

CATHERINE: Make your big vision simple and clear and talk about how it challenges the status quo. Be sure to home in on those characteristics that are valued in leadership.  To me, the most important leadership characteristics are self-awareness and self-control; good communication skills; and curiosity. Communication is so important. You must be able to present yourself intelligently, listen to people, and make meaningful and logical connections in your responses. Some of this you’re born with, some of it you learn.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on the Boyden website.

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About the author:

Brian G. Bachand, Partner is part of Boyden’s Toronto team. A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @BbachandG @BoydenCanada

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden with Alayne Metrick – President, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

Alayne Metrick – President, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

by Brian G. Bachand

MICHAEL’S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION President, Alayne Metrick, sees passion as a driver in professional success. A strong advocate for mentorship and celebrating team success, Alayne has been at the helm of hospital foundations for over three decades, leading successful campaigns through inspirational engagement. Reflecting on the industry talent gender shift and trends on the horizon, Boyden’s Brian G. Bachand sat down with Alayne to talk leadership, diversity, team drivers and advice to the next generation of leaders.

BOYDEN: As a leader in fundraising and corporate development, how has your alignment with mission-based organizations guided your career?

ALAYNE: You have to really believe in the mission and the good you are doing. You feel the sincere difference with every gift brought in and with every accomplishment that the institution achieves. People are in the hospital field because they want to save and change lives, and you feel part of that. It’s not like there is the organization and then there is you—it’s like we are one.

BOYDEN: How does that translate into your leadership style?

ALAYNE: I have two expressions I use: 1) how you do business really matters and 2) nobody has to give us time or money. You’re not in it for a transaction—you’re in it for a relationship. So creating an environment where people want to give you time actually determines how you do business.

BOYDEN: Your team is a collection of leadership, administration, and clinical leaders and practitioners yet you have had great success in campaign participation across all levels. How do you motivate and inspire?

ALAYNE: Acknowledging everyone’s part in a campaign’s success is important because no one person can do it alone. It’s about creating excitement and bringing people in. When you bring people into the strategy, they’re part of it and they understand the complexity. Everyone’s job is different, but we’re all fundraisers and it takes all of us to get the job done. As a leader, you are the number one cheerleader. It’s your job to think, give constructive criticism and motivate the team towards a successful outcome.

BOYDEN: What role does mentoring play?

ALAYNE: Everyone has their gifts. It gives you a great sense of pride to see where people go that you have mentored and worked with. For instance, an individual who worked with me for 17 years recently became the president of a foundation and she is doing a terrific job. I’m grateful that many of the people I have worked with are stellar and that’s what a team is about—they may have strengths that you don’t have and can give you advice. It’s a great sense of accomplishment to see people do the job well.

BOYDEN: What does diversity look like in the healthcare industry?

ALAYNE: What’s interesting now in our profession is that about 80% of the people are women. When I started, about 65% of people in the field were men. Today, we have more female leaders than men—these are all great things. But that is a creating another challenge—we are now not attracting men who are starting out in their career. I believe it’s because traditionally the salaries were lower unless you were in the top jobs and I think we need to balance that.

BOYDEN: Reflecting on your career, what has been the greatest change compared to when you started out?

ALAYNE: One is how competitive the marketplace has become in terms of talent. There is a whole lot more professionalism in the field as donor expectations have changed and the deliverables are different. People are jumping around from place to place more than ever and training has fallen to the wayside. There needs to be more of an emphasis on that.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

ALAYNE: Number one, you have to work hard. You have to be on it. It is your opportunity to go for it and you need to love what you do, but also have some balance in your life. Secondly, seek out people who are out there who can give you advice on how to get there. And, finally, realize it’s not going to be perfect.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on the Boyden website.

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About the author:

Brian G. Bachand, Partner is part of Boyden’s Toronto team. A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @BbachandG @BoydenCanada

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden With Kyle J. Winters – CANFAR

Kyle J Winters – President & COO, Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research

by Brian G. Bachand

CANADIAN FOUNDATION FOR AIDS RESEARCH President & COO, Kyle J. Winters, is mission-driven, translating individual experience into inspirational, authentic strategy. Having spent three decades in some of Canada’s leading not-for-profit institutions as an institutional ambassador and leader in fund development, Kyle is now driving forward CANFAR’s mission raise awareness and fund research into all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS. Boyden’s Brian G. Bachand sat down with Kyle to talk leadership, team drivers and the value in amplifying individual voice.

BOYDEN: How has leading mission-based organizations influenced your leadership style?

KYLE: Every mission-based organization has 1,000+ stories behind it. There are 75,000 people right now in Canada who are living with HIV. I’ve spent time speaking to people who are affected by HIV and AIDS, who have lost loved ones, as well as researchers, funders and supporters. I’ve focused on understanding how the mission has affected individuals and capturing that to lead forward. My style is to listen more and be humble enough to understand that sometimes I don’t get it right the first time. We work as a team to ensure that we are able to communicate not as one singular voice but as a choir and that each of us has a perspective.

BOYDEN: You’ve spent nearly three decades in the NFP sector. What have you observed as changes and advancements towards diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

KYLE: Diversity used to be reflected in organizations by slapping on a rainbow sticker and thinking they’re covered. At times, it even meant diversity happened in June only [for Pride month]. Now, there is a calibre of institutions and organizations that realize diversity is an economic and societal driver by stating that different and disparate voices actually lead us to a better place.

BOYDEN: What can we do to help one another succeed towards true inclusion?

KYLE: It comes from caring that is true and honest. It cannot be “I care about diversity because I think everybody else cares.” Understanding that the potential influence of diverse perspectives can produce output is an intelligent perspective and position to take.

BOYDEN: How do you innovate and stay ahead of the game?

KYLE: It comes back to diversity. The three words that I love to hear are, “Have you considered?” I know then that there is going to be a fresh perspective that I haven’t considered yet. It takes an idea to a new level—innovative, advanced and enhanced societal inclusion. I rely on the input of my team and challenge them to ensure we’re ahead of the curve.

BOYDEN: How do you inspire and build trust within your team?

KYLE: One example is our weekly reflections. I’ll throw out a new idea and each person has the opportunity to reflect and contribute to the conversation. One week it might be to turn to someone else at the table and compliment them on something they do that makes the world a better place. Another week it will be brainstorm how we can solve a particular challenge by leaning on individual strengths.

BOYDEN: How much does diversity fit within CANFAR’s mission and leadership team?

KYLE: Every person on our team is expected to demonstrate leadership on a daily basis, so diversity here is very democratic. I can best describe it as an intersection of moving pieces represented by a robust blend of culture, thought, age, gender and sexual orientation. We support and elevate each other. For example, our entire team is marching in Pride Toronto. This is not due to sexual orientation—we’re marching together because we are part of the community and celebrate diversity.

BOYDEN: Any perspectives on how Canadian NFPs can innovate together?

KYLE: Organizations that share views and values have great potential to collaborate. The not-for-profit landscape in Canada could afford much more structure and formal collaboration. At CANFAR, we see ourselves as a piece of a puzzle and there are pieces out there that are complimentary. Collaborating would mean fewer pieces for that puzzle to come together and our donors would applaud that.

BOYDEN: How would you define the differentiators that have contributed to your success?

KYLE: Taking time to enjoy life. As a leader, I want others to understand that while I am rigorous about what I do and enjoy the good work accomplished, I also enjoy my life. I tend to laugh often and find joy at work.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

KYLE: Any time my work is acknowledged, I share that recognition with all those who contributed. There’s a team of people working with me, volunteers who support us and thousands of donors. So don’t keep the spotlight for yourself—recognizing all of the people who contribute to the success shows true leadership.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on the Boyden website.

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About the author:

Brian G. Bachand, Partner is part of Boyden’s Toronto team. A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @BbachandG @BoydenCanada

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden Featuring Maureen Jensen – Chair & CEO, Ontario Securities Commission

Maureen Jensen – Chair & CEO, Ontario Securities Commission 
by Jessa Chupik & Joanna Goncalves

THE ONTARIO SECURITIES COMMISSION Chair & CEO, Maureen Jensen, has taken on the challenge of regulating capital markets participants in an era erupting with disruptive technologies. She has navigated her career by rising through the ranks in mining, followed by a move into capital markets regulators. Now at the helm of the OSC, Maureen is driving diversity in the boardroom. Boyden’s Jessa Chupik and Joanna Goncalves sat down with Maureen to talk leadership and the power of diversity.

BOYDEN: How has your career path shaped your leadership style?

MAUREEN: I am very practical, which comes from my science background, and believe in staying informed. I surround myself with incredibly smart people who are intellectually curious. I lead by weighing their opinions, gathering information and then moving forward with an informed decision.

BOYDEN: How are you navigating the OSC through this disruptive time for industries?

MAUREEN: The financial services industry is in the midst of disruption. Our rule framework is based on face-to-face interaction with people. Now consumers increasingly prefer digital methods to getting things done. It’s not surprising to me that people who prefer to arrange a ride with an app or order products online, also would rather invest through a robo-advisor. Dealers want to deliver these faster, mobile services, but the current framework doesn’t always mesh with these emerging business models. This is one of those fundamental changes that has to take place, and we need to balance it so that investor protections are in place. We’re working directly with the FinTech community, specifically through our OSC LaunchPad program, to ensure that regulation is in step with innovation.

BOYDEN: OSC is well represented with a diverse management team and more than 50% women on its board. How does diversity, gender or otherwise, fit the OSC’s mission?

MAUREEN: Our mission is about fair, efficient markets and strong investor protection. To be able to balance so many interests, it’s important to understand different aspects of the business, consumer protection and the capital markets. The diversity initiative was started by our previous chair, Howard Wetston, who looked at this as a fairness issue. This was not about window dressing—this was about having different conversations at the boardroom table.

BOYDEN: Is one woman enough to add a diverse perspective in the boardroom?

MAUREEN: I know a lot of powerful women directors who have been the single voice. In that role, they widely advocate for what they think is the right thing, but their opinion is then perceived as the woman’s view instead of a board member’s view. As soon as you have two or more women, it becomes less about gender. It is about realizing equality amongst board members.

BOYDEN: What do you see as the tangible benefits of having a more diverse leadership team?

MAUREEN: Gender balance at a board level is critical for governance. Having different viewpoints at the table helps ensure you don’t end up with groupthink, which is a detrimental practice for any corporation, public or private. We need diversity to have well-managed companies, which is vital to our economy and vital to Canada’s future.

BOYDEN: Since the introduction of “Comply or Explain,” we have seen some incremental improvement in terms of the representation of women in executive officer and board roles within publicly listed companies. Are you satisfied with the progress so far?

MAUREEN: “Comply or Explain,” along with other proposed federal and provincial targets, are starting to move the needle, but progress is slow. While many of Canada’s largest companies understand the value and are making meaningful improvements in this area, there remain many public companies in Canada that really don’t see this as anything more than the securities commission meddling in their affairs. That is really quite unfortunate.

BOYDEN: What are the obstacles preventing greater representation of women in these critical roles?

MAUREEN: There are four things. Firstly is the low turnover on Canadian boards and that is the same globally. Secondly, there is a mind-set that collegiality trumps strong viewpoints and due process. The third thing is recruitment processes have typically looked at a very narrow group of people within small networks. Lastly, our view of leadership in Canada at the senior company level has always been so narrow, which makes the whole board pool quite small.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

MAUREEN: Take some risks. If you want to serve on a board, understand how a board works. Every person has something special about their past and career they can bring to the discussion—it’s important to understand the unique value you bring. When it comes to rising in a company, nothing beats hard work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to recognize that. It’s important to know what drives you, make it visible and to surround yourself with people who will empower you for the value you bring.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on Boyden website.

About the authors:

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Interviewers – Jessa Chupik & Joanna Goncalves

Jessa Chupik, Principal, Social Impact / Higher Education Practice, and Joanna Goncalves, National Director of Marketing and Client Experience, are part of Boyden’s Toronto team. A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @humanehr @Joanna_mbg @BoydenCanada

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden Featuring Janet Kennedy – President, Microsoft Canada

MICROSOFT CANADA’S PRESIDENT, Janet Kennedy, has led the remarkable transformation of the organization from a PC—centric business to a cloud solutions and innovation leader. Declaring diversity in technology as a personal passion and fostering a learning, ever-evolving culture, Microsoft Canada has become a diversity champion and innovation hub under Janet’s stewardship. Boyden’s Ian Collyer and Joanna Goncalves sat down with Janet to talk leadership, diversity, talent, and how she works to ensure women in tech are on the rise.

 

BOYDEN: Technology and innovation are clearly passions of yours.  How much has that led you throughout your career?

JANET: You’re lucky when you find a job that you actually have passion for. I’ve been in the industry 30 years now and I lived through what I consider the three biggest eras—from when Bill Gates declared everyone would have a PC at every desk and in every home, then the Internet exploded, and now mobile apps and the transformation of the Cloud. It’s been a lot fun and I’ve learned it’s not just about the company—it’s about the culture.

BOYDEN: What factors would you say have contributed to your leadership style?

JANET: My parents, both teachers, believed education was everything. That was part of my culture and shaped me to always continue to learn. That is especially true in this industry. Since coming to Microsoft Canada and moving to Toronto, I think I have grown as a leader for so many reasons—especially because of the way Canada really embraces diversity.

BOYDEN: Microsoft is involved with a range of new disruptive technologies in what is a fast- changing market with many new competitors. How do you ensure your organization is ready and nimble enough to tackle these new opportunities?

JANET: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been widely quoted saying “we don’t want to be the know it all culture, we want to be the learn it all culture”. That actually is what it is like to work here. Not only do you always have to be learning new things, you also need to show that you can handle the pace of change. Part of it is to recruit and hire people who love to learn and are very open to change. Another part of it is our culture of learning.

BOYDEN: Microsoft Canada’s leadership team is an outstanding example of gender diversity75% are women! How does diversity fit into the organization’s vision and strategy?

JANET: I’m very proud to lead such a diverse leadership team. I believe that when you see it top-down, that is when we really live it. Everyone here is truly passionate about diversity internally but also for Canada and that is why we lead the way with programs such as Ladies Learning Code, Hour of Code, YouthSpark Programs, and DigiGirlz Camp. I’m so very proud to say Microsoft was honoured by Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) with the Company of the Year Award, which recognizes organizations for being a leader in diversity and women’s advancement.

BOYDEN: As a tech leader with 30 years’ experience across North America, what have you observed in Canadian tech talent and, more specifically, for women in technology?

JANET: As a sector we are still nowhere near where we should be—52% of women graduate from Canadian universities yet we are at 28% of women in technology. We have made some progress but the pace of our progress is not acceptable. By 2019, 172,000 jobs of will go unfilled because we have a gap in tech skills.  Research shows girls are just as enthusiastic about tech as boys until about middle school. That’s why we put so much effort into these programs to involve young women, encourage technology as a career, and demonstrate that in today’s world, everything is tech.

BOYDEN: What can leaders do today to move towards greater diversity and inclusion?

JANET: Making sure you always have a diverse team doing the recruiting, which will help contribute to more diverse hiring. As for inclusion, once you hire women, you need to keep them and encourage their best work. One way of doing that is a flexible workplace. Overall, you have to figure out a way that works for a woman and her family.

BOYDEN: What launched your career in technology?

JANET: I was good at math and was planning to be an accountant until someone at my university encouraged me to go for it and take engineering. So because someone took the time in my 20’s to tell me that that would be a good opportunity, I’m here today. Along the way I’ve had some pretty amazing sponsors that helped me understand what is possible. That’s what you need when you’re young.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone striving to lead?

JANET: You get noticed when you do good work but from there you need to raise your hand, tell people what it is that you want, and what you are willing to do. And then go for it!

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the series:

Talent Talks with WXN & Boyden is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead. Talent Talks also appears on Boyden website.

About the authors:

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Interviewers – Ian Collyer & Joanna Goncalves

Ian Collyer, Partner, Global Technology Practice, and Joanna Goncalves, National Director of Marketing and Client Experience, are part of Boyden’s Toronto team.  A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @icollyer22  @Joanna_mbg @BoydenCanada

Talent Talks with Boyden Featuring Robert J. Deluce, President & CEO of Porter Airlines

by Brian G. Bachand & Kevin Gormely

WXN and Boyden Talent Talks is a feature series highlighting leadership, talent and diversity discussions with top leaders of today. The series focuses on topics and themes with a purpose to inspire women and our diverse community to lead.

PORTER AIRLINES PRESIDENT AND CEO, Robert J. Deluce, credits exceptional customer service through a dedicated team as critical to being one of Canada’s great success stories. With a vision to bring back features from the golden age of air travel, Robert’s mission was to enhance the traveller’s experience in every aspect. Game changers in their own right, Porter now leads an initiative to bridge the diversity gap in the industry. Boyden partners, Brian G. Bachand and Kevin Gormely, sat down with Robert to talk leadership, diversity, talent, and how Porter is expanding as a global player.

BOYDEN: Porter recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Over that period, Porter has become known as one of the most innovative airlines in the industry. What was your vision and how has it been realized?

ROBERT: Ten years has gone by very quickly. We set out to change the way airlines were regarded and how aviation was viewed. To some extent, we wanted to bring it back to a point where passengers looked forward to travelling. It has taken a lot of attention to detail and it’s been a lot of fun. We now have 1,400 team members and everyone has played a role. As CEO, you have to be mindful of all aspects of business and detail, but it is not something you can do by yourself. It requires everyone’s involvement as a team.

BOYDEN: How would you define the differentiators that have contributed to success?

ROBERT: We built the airline with the idea of speed, convenience and service, but today more than anything the service aspect of the business is what really defines us. Everything we do is designed to enhance the travel experience. The lounges and amenities on board are a throwback to earlier times, while also using technology to further enhance the passenger experience. Certainly all of these things, including our unique location at Billy Bishop Airport, work in tandem to give passengers a sense of value.

BOYDEN: How does this translate into your leadership style?

ROBERT: I like to get out on aircraft and go to airports. I like to meet and greet passengers and our own team members. We established some core values here that we all live by: everybody being valued as a person. Having a passion for it as well. What makes you get up, stay late and follow-up? At the end of day, you really shouldn’t be in anything you’re not passionate about.

BOYDEN: This is a tough competitive business. Political challenges, regulatory hurdles, talent management. What do you think drives your team?

ROBERT: You come to realize, no matter what happens, you have to have a really good team on board. You need everyone to have a clear understanding of how they positively contribute. Today is a sunny day, but a day of heavy snow or some other irregularity will happen. We are remembered for how we treat people when they miss a flight or their journey is disrupted by some other issue. Ensuring your team is empowered to do what has to be done is critical—treating people with respect and dignity is key to our culture and our success. We are essentially a customer service organization and if you don’t have happy satisfied customers, you don’t have much going for you.

BOYDEN: What is unique in the Canadian market for leadership diversity within transportation/aviation?

ROBERT: The aviation industry in general lags behind others. It is an industry that has been male dominated, particularly in certain segments. While this has changed over time, it was pretty much accepted in the past that pilots were male and flight attendants were female. We have put a lot of attention toward making sure that we make progress. Our “Women Soar at Porter” program was established to bridge that gap in all aspects –pilots, aviation engineers, senior management and the board of directors. Do we have more work to do? Absolutely. The key is ensuring you get right back to grass-roots, bringing awareness of the industry and its value as a career option.

BOYDEN: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

ROBERT: My father always said: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you apply that in customer service, there isn’t any situation you find yourself in that can’t be dealt with using this core principle. Another would be building credibility, as a corporation and as an individual. Being good to your word and following through. That is pretty fundamental to success.

BOYDEN: Porter recently announced a new partnership with Emirates. Looking ahead, what can we anticipate to hear more about from Porter?

ROBERT: Yes, we have select key partnerships with companies that share our culture and core values and expand options for our customers. We are also working on concepts such as U.S. customs pre-clearance at Billy Bishop Airport. All this will enable us to offer more to our customers. We feel honoured to be in the top 10 international airlines for Condé Nast Traveller and Travel + Leisure, but it’s humbling at the same time because hard work got us here and we need to continue working at it.

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This interview has been edited and condensed. It also appears on www.boyden.com.

Brian G. Bachand, Partner and Kevin Gormely, Managing Partner, are part of the Boyden’s Toronto team.  A global leader in executive search for over 70 years, Boyden is committed to excellence in leadership and values diversity as an essential force towards achieving this commitment.

Twitter: @BbachandG @kgormely @BoydenCanada