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“Discomfort [is] a necessary push toward growth.”

Her story of getting comfortable with discomfort

Gillian Seidler, Vice-president and Chief Compliance Officer at Mackenzie Investments, was out for a run in August 2020 when she fell and fractured her ankle. The experience went well beyond uncomfortable, but it made her appreciate every time she can go for a run on her now-healed ankle. Finding space for gratitude—even in difficult moments—has allowed her to strike out on new paths, accept challenges, and keep her team motivated through a global pandemic. Here’s her story.

Change course if it feels right

In the fourth year of my B.Sc. (honours), I applied to a physiotherapy program—with no Plan B. I didn’t get in. I took a contract job at Mackenzie in November 1996 while I waited to reapply to the program, but by the time I received my acceptance letter the following spring, Mackenzie had offered me a full-time position. I stayed on and never regretted it. I’ve been very fortunate that a change in my role within Mackenzie has come my way every time I needed it, offering new growth, new development, and/or expanded scope. I like routine in my day, but I thrive on change and challenge, and the chance to build on what I’ve learned.

Don’t fear the unexpected

The unexpected is at the core of compliance work. Our goal is to be as proactive as possible, but when people make mistakes or respond in an unanticipated way, or technology doesn’t work, we need to be responsive and figure it out. In the summer of 2016, I was offered the Chief Compliance Officer job. That night, I brought home my three-inch-thick policy binder, packed with paper copies of all our compliance policies. But then I realized, in a huge lesson for me, that I didn’t have to know everything. When you build a team of smart people and create the right environment for them so they bring their best selves to work every day, you’ll have the right structure in place to inform the right decisions.

People bring comfort

To make the discomfort of my new role more comfortable, I talked to leaders across the organization about how we could support them more effectively. I also asked my team for suggestions about a vision for the future. Despite being a little uncomfortable in my new role, I realized that the people I surrounded myself with provided the support I needed. Getting thoughtful and honest feedback from others gave me a real sense of what they appreciated and what they’d be looking for from me—which made me feel more comfortable. That open communication was so important through the pandemic, too. Creating a connected and engaged team helped me realize that, even in situations of discomfort, bringing people together and ideating make things less daunting.

Overall, I’ve learned we can’t control everything. But we can control how we respond, we can be grateful for what we have, and we can view discomfort as a necessary push toward growth and improvement.

This is the final article in this series.
You can read our complete series about Stories of Challenge here.
Read our previous article in this series.

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