08 Mar 2018

Manager – Assurance
Chandler office

CLEARR value embodied: LEADERSHIP

 

“I never thought of myself as a leader, but afterwards, people around me said they saw it right from the start. This training changed the way I saw myself.”

 

Caroline’s father wanted his only daughter to go to university. “He loved being a mechanic, but he regretted not having had the chance to continue his schooling. I was Daddy’s girl and I followed him everywhere. When I asked him how to do an oil change for example, he would say No. He didn’t want me learning about car mechanics; he was afraid that I would take an interest and miss out on a profession with more to offer.”

In September 2004, when she was 19 years old, Caroline left her parents’ home in Grande-Rivière, Gaspé, to live in an apartment in Rimouski and begin her Bachelor of Accounting at UQAR. “Three weeks after the start of the semester, the unthinkable happened: my cousin came to tell me that my father had died in an ATV accident while on a hunting trip. My whole world was turned upside down.”

Caroline had to deal with this terrible loss while being there for her mother, who was deaf from birth and who had depended on her husband for several aspects of daily life. “She asked me to put my studies on hold to come back home and live with her. I understood her of course, but I was torn between being by her side or continuing my studies, especially since it had been something really important in my father’s eyes. If I gave them up, it would have been like disappointing him.”

“So I contacted each of my professors to say that I would study on my own at home and would only come in to the university for exams. They agreed. However, one said that he did not see how I would succeed, teaching myself in this way. But lo and behold, I got an A+ in his subject!”

Caroline joined the Chandler office team in 2009, after having worked for about two years in Rimouski. “I was very happy to come back to Grande-Rivière and to be able to work only 15 minutes from there. I bought our family home and my husband and I renovated it so that my mother could safely live with us, in her own apartment in the basement. Then the following year was one of happy news: I received my CPA designation and I found out that I was pregnant with twins.”

Unknown leadership

Caroline explains, “My 12 colleagues and I make up one large family. Some have been here for 35, 40 years! We share in each other’s joys and when someone is going through a difficult time, we are all saddened but united.”

As team leader, work ambiance is very important to her. “We take our work seriously, while having fun. The juniors who leave this office are sad to go! Work shouldn’t be a burden. I do all that I can so that my team enjoys every day. People often tell me that I’m always smiling.”

In 2016, Caroline had a revelation whilst participating in a training session in Québec City. “The evaluations, as well as the instructor’s comments, made me aware of my leadership style, which is not conventional or hierarchical. I never thought of myself as a leader, but afterwards, people around me said they saw it right from the start. This training changed the way I saw myself and had a positive impact on my career as a potential successor for the Chandler office leadership.”

Caroline adds with her light laughter, “Here, I can count on Richard Chrétien, our partner, to encourage me to take on new challenges. It’s because of him that I continue to grow. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and charge!”

Does Caroline have a special project or dream that she would like to make happen? “For now, I’ve got all I want, and above all else, I feel so privileged to be surrounded by such wonderful people, at work and in my family. I want to continue fully enjoying life and seizing all opportunities that come my way.”

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08 Mar 2018

Lead Senior Manager – Insolvency (commercial)
Recovery & Reorganization Group
Montréal Office

CLEARR value: INTEGRITY

 

“So far, my career path as been somewhat personalized and has been shaped by opportunities that presented themselves along the way here in the firm.”

 

Geneviève was quick to tell us, “I’m a very reserved person who doesn’t go out of her way to be in the spotlight. I don’t have any great professional accomplishments to share.” She agreed to the interview when we explained that we just wanted to present her professional experience through the values she considers important.

Geneviève was born in île d’Orléans. “While I was still in high school, I was working 20-30 hours a week. I couldn’t wait to be free, to make my own choices. I did well in school. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do later, but I knew what I didn’t want to do as a result of my part-time jobs. I eliminated health and pure and applied sciences, and decided that administration could pave the way for several career choices.”

She chose accounting and began her training in the Québec City office in 2000, staying on after obtaining her title. “Working in assurance taught me a lot. I especially enjoyed carrying out assignments for SMEs, where I was able to work in areas beyond audit, such as tax. It’s a great training ground.”

In 2002, one of Geneviève’s colleagues transferred to the Insolvency group and at the colleague’s urging, she made the move as well in 2003. “It suited me perfectly to discover a new field while staying with the same firm. I couldn’t see myself progressing any longer in audit.”

“I’ve only every worked at RCGT since finishing my studies, something I’m very proud of,” Geneviève adds.

Shortly after joining the Insolvency group, she was given the opportunity to start training to be a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. “I felt it was a good time to start this demanding program, which took three years at the time. You have to pass several exams to obtain the licence, including an oral exam before a jury.”

Reconciling work and family at the forefront

When discussing her lifestyle, Geneviève explains, “I’m not the type of person who plans far in advance. Actually, I’d find it kind of boring to know exactly where I’m headed. So far, my career path as been somewhat personalized and has been shaped by opportunities that presented themselves along the way here in the firm.”

She goes on to say, “That’s how I am in my personal life as well. When I was 30, I had no plans to start a family. Then, at 31, I had my first child and, six years later, there I was, with three.”

Geneviève has been working in the Reorganization & Recovery Group in the Montréal office for 15 years. “I moved to Montréal to be with the person who would eventually become my husband and the father of my children. Working a four-day week was the best option to balance work and family life. I want to develop professionally, but will not sacrifice my family life. At one point, I had to set matters straight and reaffirm that priority.”

Geneviève goes on to say, “For the past year, my role within the team has changed. Now, I spend more time supervising and supporting new staff. I serve as the intermediary between the team and partners. This structure boosts consistency and efficiency, making it easier to retain staff over the long term, one of our group’s priorities.”

How would she describe her leadership style in one word? “Simplicity. I prefer a relaxed setting, I have no interest in a formal hierarchy. Everybody gets the same attention. My door is always open, it’s a whirlwind in my office. My team members would likely tell you I’m very available and uncomplicated.”

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08 Mar 2018

Senior Manager – Assurance
Sainte-Marie Office

CLEARR Value: AGILITY

 

“Our clients know we’re there to support them as they progress. The diversity of our clients’ requests is what drives me.”

 

At the end of high school, Chantal Gravel’s first intention was to study music at Cégep de Sainte-Foy. “I’d been playing piano since I was very young. I was very nervous at the admissions test and had disappointing results. I had done well in school, so in the end, I chose pure and applied sciences. I then did a Bachelor of Commerce at Université de Sherbrooke, because I liked the work-study coop program, with on-site experience.”

Chantal mentions she greatly admired her parents, both entrepreneurs in Sainte-Marie, in Beauce. “My father took over my grandfather’s wholesale workwear business. He developed and grew the company. My mother studied part-time for seven years to obtain a degree in gemology, while raising my two brothers and me. She studied at the same time as we did. She owned a jewellery store and wanted to perfect her knowledge to better advise her clients. My parents worked hard and with their lifestyle as an example, it seemed normal for me to have a demanding professional life while raising a family.”

Chantal’s parents introduced her to the realities of entrepreneurial life at a young age, but they also passed on their optimistic view of life. “For example, with my father, nothing is ever so bad. His gift to me was developing my confidence in people, in life. I never stay unhappy for a long time, even when something difficult happens.”

Chantal has been with RCGT for 21 years, at the Sainte-Marie office and explains the characteristics of a small regional office. “We don’t specialize, because our clients count on us to address a vast array of needs. We forge close relationships with SME owners. We carry out recurring assurance engagement, such as audits, but our involvement extends much further. Our clients know we’re there to support them as they progress. The diversity of our clients’ requests is what drives me.”

What do her team and clients say about her most often? “That I listen. I find that very gratifying, because I think that’s an important quality to nurture, at work and in our personal lives.”

Developing flexibility and open-mindedness

Chantal has boundless energy that she attributes to her healthy lifestyle. “Eating healthily and exercising are very important to me. I play ringette once a week, and depending on the season, I train a few times a week in the gym or I jog or swim. I’ve always been active. Since I have to be very organized as the mother of three children, I plan my activities in my schedule.”

In December 2016, a friend of Chantal’s suggested they sign up together for the Cap Fémina Aventure. “It’s an off-road rally in the Moroccan desert in teams of two, in a jeep or an ATV. There is also a charitable component to this 10-day adventure. Last year, it consisted in painting a school in El Fida, with the local population.”

“I had to move out of my comfort zone to raise funds! Soliciting funds is intimidating. My colleagues and my employer help me, and we were able to raise close to $22,000.”

She goes on to say, “During the rally, there were numerous opportunities for me to let go. I’m the type of person who likes to be in control, but in this context, that’s just not possible! When my teammate and I disagreed about something, we absolutely had to be flexible. We finished 13th out of 72 teams, and are very proud of our results.”

“You don’t always realize how deep-rooted certain habits can become. By agreeing to push myself beyond my limits, I discovered inner resources I never knew I had. And now, I can apply them every day,” Chantal adds.

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08 Mar 2018

Senior Auditor – Assurance
Val-d’Or office

CLEARR value embodied: COLLABORATION

 

“When several people from my team work on a same project, I reserve a room for us. It’s easier to communicate and help each other when there aren’t any walls between us.”

 

Choosing a career was easy for Andréanne. “In high school, I loved math and I was very good at it. My father was an accountant and my mother, Vice-President of Human Resources, so they both worked in business. I studied business in CEGEP. At HEC Montréal, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration, Major Accounting program.”

During her internships, which were all done at the same large consulting services firm, she sometimes had doubts as to whether she could see herself in this profession. “Something just wasn’t adding up, but I didn’t have enough experience to pinpoint the problem. But I was too far into my studies to just give up like that. After I obtained my CPA designation, when I started working elsewhere, I was relieved to find that I really liked my work! What I hadn’t liked during my internships was their business culture. There was no recognition. Even when we gave it our all, it was never enough.”

Andréanne (in back) with Émilie, at the family fishing cabin on Parent lake in Senneterre.

Andréanne says, “You don’t have to be a workhorse to be successful. My partners, Sylvain Faucher and Serge Allard, advocate a work/life balance and support us in this regard.”

The young accountant values collaboration and team spirit. “I remember very well just how intimidating it was, at the beginning of our professional journey, to ask for information and advice when we needed it. When several people from my team work on a same project, I reserve a room for us. It’s easier to communicate and help each other when there aren’t any walls between us. We each take a turn being DJ for the day and that person chooses the music we’ll listen to while working!”

Andréanne has always been into sports. She practised weightlifting when she was a teenager and participated in several world weightlifting championships. She would have continued with it but, in 2011, she hurt her back and had to stop. She recognizes that being involved in this sport helped her develop qualities that will serve her all her life, especially discipline and self-control.

“The comment I hear most at work is that I’m not stressed out, that I know how to remain calm even when involved in a complex assignment that isn’t going smoothly. If it’s too easy, I get bored fast. I get more satisfaction when the job is harder and I still manage to find solutions.”

These days, Andréanne does Crossfit six times a week and coaches Crossfit weightlifting to gym members.

Building a life up North in the name of love

Meeting Émilie made Andréanne decide to leave Montréal. “My partner was born in Senneterre, which is less than an hour from Val-d’Or. In the spring of 2016, I joined her there and we bought a house together.”

“Before meeting Émilie, I knew nothing about Abitibi. I thought it was so far from Montréal! I would never have thought that at least once a year I’d be driving for six hours from Val-d’Or on the Baie-James route to go further North to a client in Nemaksa.”

Above all things, Andréanne appreciates the closeness to nature, as well as the inherent solidarity in her adoptive region. “It’s easier to make ties here than back in Montréal. We have a good network of friends and I get along very well with my in-laws. I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else. Of course I miss my family, but apart from that, I have everything I need right here.”

The next step for this couple is having a child. Andréanne ends her story on a happy note, “I couldn’t have wished for a better place to grow in my career while enjoying a great family life.”