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Alumnae trio play leading roles in the business world

Concordia grads at the top of their game in gender-equity, credit management and communications
June 17, 2019
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By Donna Nebenzahl

The Concordia Alumni Women and Leadership program empowers graduates to connect and learn from each other. This new series introduces leaders from Concordia’s nearly 100,000 alumnae in business, media, engineering, science, the arts and more. 

Anne-Marie Hubert, LLD 15 Anne-Marie Hubert believes her most important contribution is making a positive impact.

Looking for change

It’s no exaggeration to describe Anne-Marie Hubert, LLD 15, as a woman of influence. A CPA and Quebec managing partner at EY — a business she helped build since she joined in 1985 — Hubert was awarded the Order of Canada in 2017 and four times has been named by the Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women.

Hubert has led EY Canada’s gender-equity initiatives, serving as the Canadian representative on the Americas Gender Equity Task Force. She received an honorary doctorate from Concordia in 2015 in recognition of her “exceptional contribution to the advancement of women in business.”

Her job is to advise organizations on strategies, governance and performance. Bringing people together for growth, giving them support and coaching to embrace the future are also skills Hubert brings to her work for women.

“Whether it’s my college or my babysitter or the leader of a not-for-profit organization, the more we help others succeed, the more we succeed.”

Nevertheless, there’s a lack of role models for women, she says. “Little girls make choices early on. If we can look at this as a challenge and see a collective responsibility to create a society where women can contribute their full potential and where men and women can succeed in all aspects of their lives, we will create a better world.”

As member of the Concordia Alumni Women and Leadership advisory group, she’s looking for change. “The aging population is creating a scarcity of talent,” she says, “So it becomes a business imperative more than it was before. There are more and more men who realize that making the investment to give women a chance has had a positive impact on their business. That’s driving change.”

In her own workplace, Hubert, 55, was able to learn and grow. “Once you say ‘yes’ and manage to deliver results, you get more opportunities. Although I had to say ‘no’ at certain points — at different stages of life I had to slow down to succeed in all aspect of life, including family. Yet in the long run, I’m pleased with the choices I’ve made.”

Madeleine Féquière, BA 85 “At the beginning of your career, you need to take chances,” says Madeleine Féquière. | Photo: Jean-Sébastien Dénommé

Fostering leadership qualities

While there are lots of women in the credit business, there are very few at her level, says, says Madeleine Féquière, BA 85, director of Corporate Credit Risk Management at Domtar Inc.

She has held senior positions in global credit at AbitibiBowater Corp. and Teleglobe Canada. And it all started with her Concordia degree in translation. “I worked for a company as a translator and someone suggested a transfer in finance and that was it for me,” she says. “I entered the credit world by accident and I remained by choice.” 

Féquière’s decision to specialize in credit-risk management has served her well, with its focus on analytics and diplomacy. She leads seven credit groups around the world. 

“I help the company maximize its sales and keep debt to a minimum, while ensuring the best-in-class status of my credit operations, in terms of people, governance and solutions.” 

She has also contributed outside her field for the past 25 years — since 2014 as independent director of Investissement Québec Inc, and currently as a board member of Conseil des Arts de Montréal. She has always been involved with women’s causes and preparing the next generation of leaders.  

“I was invited to join the Concordia Alumni Women and Leadership advisory group by its president, a colleague from the International Women’s Forum,” she says. “Since its creation, we’ve accomplished so much together, by connecting with and learning from each other.” 

One of her goals is to foster leadership qualities. “I remember giving a presentation at Concordia and a lot of students came to me afterwards and said, ‘You changed our perspective. We didn’t know we could do all that and be all that.’ I told them, ‘Get a degree, then the sky’s the limit!’ ” 

Her advice to graduates? “You have to be passionate about whatever it is you want to embrace; with passion you can do anything. Don’t be afraid to change career paths or move from one assignment to another, experience life elsewhere. The idea is to learn as much as you can and to grow in the process.” 

“At the beginning of your career, you need to take chances,” she says. While at Teleglobe, she moved to the U.S. for two years, although she made sure she went on her terms. “I don’t allow people to define my path for me; you define your own path.” 

Rebecca Reeve, MA 07 Rebecca Reeve believes thriving in a tough, constantly changing business world means having a lot of perseverance as well as acutely attuned emotional intelligence.

Changing the equation

Founder and CEO of Rsquared Communication, a thriving PR-strategy company in San Francisco,  Calif., Rebecca Reeve, MA (media studies) 07, was once a speechwriter for the premier of British Columbia.

Her decision to do a master’s at Concordia was a turning point, Reeve says. “The program made me a much better thinker, improved my writing process.”

The clients at her 10-year-old company are billion-dollar, high-growth technology companies, seeking her help to build profiles and deliver their messaging. Rsquared has created a well-defined niche, from Vancouver to San Francisco to Toronto, with offices in each city.

She took some risks to get here. Once she decided to work in technology, she moved to San Francisco and found an apartment and a job on Craigslist. Not long after, Rsquared Communications was born.

“My world changes as the company grows,” Reeve, 39, says. She has had two children in the last five years, which has forced her to let others take leadership roles in the company.

She believes the tech industry has had its own reckoning in the last couple of years, driven by the #MeToo movement. “There is more open conversation and efforts at dismantling antiquated views and false assumptions around things like when you’re hiring and you open your screening process to make sure that women are interviewed for open positions, that somehow means there’s a lower bar,” says Reeve. “There has been a lot of encouraging change, a shift in what can be spoken aloud and other things that are no longer OK to say. That’s progress.”  

“It’s incredibly encouraging and inspirational to see leaders like Jennifer Tejada take PagerDuty public earlier this year, and Jennifer Hyman taking Rent the Runway through an IPO at nine-months’ pregnant,” says Reeve. 

“It’s slow, but changes are happening and I think the leadership women are providing around funding the next generation of companies is profound,” she says. The wealth in Silicon Valley is from equity, not salary. “So if you can change the equation so that women are influencing what types of products get built and how they get built, that really starts to shape our reality.”



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