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Her story of calm, community and challenge

Cynthia Currie is Executive Vice-president and Chief Human Resources Officer at IGM Financial Inc. and is a member of Mackenzie Investments’ Operating Committee. She has experienced personal crises, like undergoing 15 months of chemotherapy for cancer while flying internationally for work. She has also steered organizations through critical business transitions with her hallmark calm confidence. Here’s her story.

Build a community anywhere you go

I grew up in a small town in Quebec. My parents were civil servants who instilled in all three of their daughters curiosity and a focus on nurturing relationships rather than competing. My background gave me confidence to take new opportunities because I know I can make a home for myself anywhere and cultivate trusted relationships that help me succeed.

Be calm in a storm of change

One of my biggest leaps was moving to Bermuda. My fiancé got a job offer there. Some of my friends thought I was crazy, because I gave up a job in Toronto I really liked. But we moved and got caught in a literal storm when Hurricane Fabian blew the roof off our new home. I was managing contractors repairing our house when, through a contact, I got a call to meet with partners at an accounting firm that had been acquired by a global firm. They were facing a metaphorical storm, as their new parent company assumed more operational accountability for their practice. I listened quietly, then asked if I could use their whiteboard. For the next couple of hours, I explained what their lives would look like in the coming three years. When I left, I thought it was likely the last time I’d see them. A few days later, a kid on a moped rolled up to my house and handed me an envelope. Inside was an employment offer. I took the job and helped those partners successfully navigate the integration of their firm.

Choose roles that challenge you

I haven’t been “strategic” when managing my career in that I didn’t plan the most direct path to an “ultimate” job. Instead, I choose positions where I can be challenged and learn, and then apply those learnings. I joined IGM when it was going through massive transformation, bringing together disparate operating companies to deliver a consistent employee experience. My boss, Jeff Carney, whom I worked for previously, had confidence I would figure it out. With the help of my colleagues, I have. When the pandemic hit, I focused on what would make lives easier — for example, a stipend, ergonomic chairs and a guarantee no one would lose their job as a result of the pandemic in 2020. I’m proud our employee surveys show most employees felt safe and protected during an unprecedented time. I’m also proud of our high-performing team. Even working remotely through a global health crisis, we remain a strong community. I guess that goes back to those small-town values.

Watch for the next article in this series in mid-November 2021.
Read our previous article in this series.

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