The 36th Desautels Management Achievement Awards (DMAA) was held on February 6th. The event serves to recognize and honour the achievements of the leaders in Canadian business, and to provide an opportunity for students to network with industry professionals.
The Bull & Bear was able to obtain an interview with the recipients of the 36th DMAAs, John Chambers, Daniele Henkel, and Deanna Rosenswig.
John Chambers came to McGill in 1990 as a young man from Calgary who up until that point, hadn’t ventured outside of Western Canada. Once at McGill, Mr.Chambers was surrounded by tons of new people, backgrounds, and cultures, who he would have otherwise not have had access to if he didn’t get his MBA at McGill.
As an Albertan and Geophysics major at the University of British Columbia, Mr.Chambers was interested in Canada’s largest commodity, oil. So in 1998, Mr. Chambers joined FirstEnergy’s Corporate Finance department, after spending five years at one of Canada’s largest bank-owned investment dealers.
Working his way up to becoming the head of FirstEnergy’s Corporate Finance Operations, the company’s revenues grew considerably as over 450 financings and $64 billion worth of mergers and acquisitions were achieved. In recognition for his remarkable achievements at FirstEnergy, Mr. Chambers was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. In 2014, Mr. Chambers was made CEO of First Energy, overseeing day-to-day operations and the company’s strategy.
Besides achieving success in the world of business, Mr. Chambers is heavily involved in philanthropic efforts at his company, helping to organize annual charity events in Calgary where hundreds of thousands of dollars get donated to selected charities each year.
In recognition of his business and philanthropic efforts, on Friday February 5th 2016, Mr.Chambers was one of three recipients of the 36th Desautels Management Achievement Awards.
The Bull & Bear had a chance to speak to Mr.Chambers about the value of a McGill degree, his philanthropic efforts, and advice to students wishing to pursue a career in finance and business.
You are an MBA McGill graduate, how has your McGill degree furthered or influenced your professional career?
When I came to McGill in 1990, like today there was a pretty broad international cross-section of students, which is actually one of the things that drew me to the program. As a guy who grew up in Western Canada and essentially never left Western Canada, it was exceptionally useful to me to spend time with those students and get perspectives of people from all over the world. And it was really at the beginning of a lot of internationalization of businesses so to talk to people from places like India, Thailand, Iceland , the UK, or wherever these people came from, I think gave me a tremendous amount of perspective on what was going on out there in the world and how different cultures approached business.
You were recognized a one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 in 2006, what do you contribute to your success in the field of finance and business?
I think it’s a couple of things. You really have to go into something you love, and focus in on excelling at the particular profession that you have chosen. As well, I think you really need to focus on the people you have around you, and work collaboratively with the people in your management team and ultimately you really need to give back to the community. I think in fact when I received that award a lot of it was a function of the philanthropic things that First Energy did, which I did, but also which was really just a legacy of the organization. I had some great mentors that showed me the importance of giving back to the community.
What are some examples of what you and First Energy has done for the community
Some of the things First Energy has done for the community is for example the Calgary Stampede party we have every year where we invite all of our clients, totalling to about 1600 people. We would select four charities that would be the beneficiaries of that party. Fist Energy pays for the party, and then we donate a bunch of money ourselves to the groups of charities and then we ask all of the attendees at the party to donate to these charities. For years and years we would raise around $250,000 a year for the charities that we would select. As well, First Energy also has a policy where we donate a minimum percentage of operating profits every year to charity so no matter how great the year is we will always donate a specific percentage of our profit.
What is the value of a McGill Bcom/ MBA degree in the field of finance and business?
I think it’s one of the most recognized degrees in the world in terms of finance and business, so if you are looking for a job or talking to an employer, they will instantaneously recognize it as a world class, top quality program… and I think that helps you ultimately get to the top of the list of candidates. As well, the quality of the program at McGill really provides the students and ultimately the people moving into the workforce with a fantastic set of skills with which to do their best to be successful. I knew if I went to McGill and got an MBA it would be a top quality education that would be respected no matter where I went
What advice do you have for graduating McGill business students in being successful in their respective business fields?
Pick a job and a profession that you think you’re going to love, it’s going to keep you interested, and innovated, and motivated, throughout your career. Anything will have its ups and its downs, but as long as you are engaged and focused. You will be successful.
1990, Algiers. Tensions were rising as the Algerian government was in conflict with multiple Islamist rebel group. Up until then, Ms. Daniele Henkel who was born in Morocco but raised in Algeria had an exciting job. She was a political and economic advisor to the U.S. Ambassador in Algeria. Therefore as the Algerian Civil War became imminent, Ms.Henkel had to make the toughest choice in her life, to leave her excellent job, and uproot her family to which had always been in North Africa, and move to Quebec, Canada.
At first Ms.Henkel was a door-to-door saleswoman; convincing people to buy and believe in her products. Her saleswoman experiences convinced Ms.Henkel to take her entrepreneurial talents to a new level, as she decided to launch her own company, Daniele Henkel Inc. Her company specializes in “…non-surgical training and medical equipment for professionals in the medical, aesthetic and therapeutic fields across Canada”, pioneering a non-invasive approach to beauty and health in Canada.
Her enthusiasm and determination has not only lead her company to success, but her added charisma and wit has placed her as a judge on the TV show ‘l’Oeil du Dragon’, the Quebec version of the popular entrepreneurship show ‘Dragon’s Den’.
Recognized for her empowerment of women in the entrepreneurial field, Ms.Henkel was a laureate of the YWCA 2014Women of Distinction Award.
On Friday February 5th 2016, Ms.Henkel was recognized for her work with the McGill Young Alumni Entrepreneurship Pitch Fest at the Dobson Centre, as well as her overall achievements in business in the province of Quebec by being a recipient of the 36th Desautels Management Achievement Awards (DMMA).
The Bull & Bear was there to ask her questions about being a successful entrepreneur, receiving a DMMA award, and the growth of women in the field of entrepreneurship.
What does it take to achieve entrepreneurial success as a University student?
Firstly, you must know if you are an entrepreneur or not. Being an entrepreneur is something you are born with, not something you become. Being an entrepreneur means that you have the guts, as well as passion, continuity, experience, and that you are willing to take as many risks as possible. This is not something that everyone has, but that is OK. Ultimately, you will learn more in an entrepreneurial venture than by listening to someone like me teaching you something…you need to put your hand in the burner, you need to feel it, cry about it, you need to be hurt, because then when you decide to go back again when you are doing something in business you will remember… this is how you grow, you will grow as a human being, and as an entrepreneur.
You have participated at the Young Alumni Entrepreneurship Pitch Fest at the Dobson Centre, what was your experience like in your involvement there?
It was wonderful. I was so pleased with the ideas presented. I did not expect that some projects were so advanced, so big, so international… coming from here! They come from McGill, in our home town, and nobody knows about it… I was so pleased with the project ideas. When I was there, I liked to give them ideas to help the young entrepreneurs. I’m like a bee that goes from flower to flower to give pollen and to tell everyone what I see, what I find amazing, that nobody else sees or imagines. What shocked me however is that these ideas aren’t out known. We need to do a better job communicating what we have here in Montreal and Quebec and in our Universities because these people had incredible idea.
What was it like to receive the DMMA Award?
I was very much honoured, but surprised to receive this award… because I’m not from McGill and I’m mostly known in the French community much more than in the English one. But receiving this award is not something that I don’t deserve, I think I do… but McGill being one of the top universities in the world, recognizing a medium sized company from a woman that is an immigrant, that got experience the toughest way… built something that I am so proud of, means that I want to tell people to please remember everything is possible as long as you keep going and that you have pleasure, no matter how many challenges and maybe failure, because I had failures too… you cannot achieve success without failure… to me, success without failure is not actually success.
You were a laureate of the 2014 YWCA Women of Distinction Award, do you see much growth in the success of women in the field of entrepreneurship?
Absolutely, women are more and more going into universities, they are getting higher positions in the political field, in the medical field, they are now the heads of multi-national billion dollar companies, so I think they do. And I do encourage young women to go for it, to just take a stand and to believe. In fact the only thing women need to learn, is it’s not about their competence, it’s about their trust in themselves. Because as competent as we can be, sometimes we back off because we don’t believe we can achieve something as important as being a CFO for example. It is all about self-trust.
She’s one of the first women to graduate with a B. Com and an MBA from McGill. Later, she became the first woman to fill the office of the Executive Vice President of BMO. Later still, she served as the President of the MasterCard Foundation.
Throughout her exceptional career, Deanna Rosenswig broke through multiple glass ceilings. Through doing so, she has changed the lives of women in business, both as a role model, and as a mentor. She reflected on her career through co-authoring a book called “Dreams Have No Expiry Date: A Practical and Inspirational Way for Women to Take Charge of their Futures.”
During her exceptional career, Ms. Rosenswig continued to inspire and help change the lives of other women through her work with Women’s World Banking, and Calmeadow Foundation.
On February 5th Ms. Rosenswig was recognized for her achievements in micro finance and social entrepreneurship, receiving the 36th Desautels Management Achievement Awards (DMMA).
The Bull & Bear asked Ms. Rosenswig about her career, ‘leaning-in’, and any advice she may have for recent graduates.
You were one of the first women to graduate with a B. Com & MBA from McGill. What was that like?
I never knew any different. My high-school had mixed classes so I didn’t have any trouble with that when I went into commerce, we took a lot of classes with Arts. We had to take English 101, we had to take French 101, so the classes were huge. It was only when I got into MBA school that there were only three women in my class… When I was accepted in MBA school… I didn’t get an acceptance in July, and I had already applied to a U.S. school, and they’d accepted me (it was a good school; it was Cornell), and I’d met my husband and I wanted to be up here, and I called McGill and I said: “What’s happening?” And the lady on the phone said to me: “We’re waiting to see if there are other women who got accepted, because you wouldn’t want to be the only woman, now would you?” Now when you think about that, she could have changed my life, thinking she was helping me… It was a struggle, but, you know, our consciousness wasn’t raised. Your generation, your consciousness is raised. You look for the clues. But when I was your age, we were glad to get in. I was delighted to have been accepted. I thought she was doing me a favour. I had no idea. I really didn’t start to understand the whole inequality issue until I was a little bit older, and when I was making a difference for other women. And I would see – … I’d ask, well is there a woman on the board? They’d say no. And I’d say, ‘we’re not making a move until I see a woman in the board.’ My consciousness got raised after I joined BMO.
What was it like rising in BMO? There’s often the ominous choice, especially amongst women, between a family and a career.
I’d like to tell you that I’ve made all these choices [in my career] consciously, but I didn’t. I got married young… We had children, I worked all the time. And I made my life easy. I really was very driven. I was driven.
What inspired you to be so driven?
I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to change the way the world works. And I learnt a lot about how hard it is. (Laughs). But I really did want to make a difference. And changing the world is not easy – I learned how to do it one step at a time. First you have to change yourself. Then you change your organization. Then you change the world.
What advice do you have for McGill students after graduating – and especially women graduating with a B. Com?
Figure out what it is you want to do, and go do it… Find what you love, because you can spend all your life trying to succeed at you don’t like – you may as well succeed in something that you like. But I think your generation understands that.
I think your generation tries to choose a life and a career… [And] it’s wonderful! It’s given [women] so much opportunity to do whatever it is want. Look how many women are in this room! … I’ve managed five careers in my life. That’s so unusual! I spent thirty-two years at BMO – but I did so many different things there. I started up in businesses, I did controllership, I did marketing, I did investment baking – I mean, I really have had a great ride… There was a hockey player… he said: “you work and work and work, and sometimes you get lucky.”