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CEOx1Day: students get the chance to shadow top business executives

Third- and fourth-year JMSB undergrads have until October 26 to apply
October 1, 2018
By Yuri Mytko

JMSB student Lucrezia Sciascia (right) spent a day with Cossette CEO Mélanie Dunn. | Image courtesy Cossette JMSB student Lucrezia Sciascia (right) spent a day with Cossette CEO Mélanie Dunn. | Image courtesy Cossette

Every marketing student dreams of getting a behind-the-scenes peek at the inner workings of a major advertising agency. Last February, John Molson School of Business undergrad Lucrezia Sciascia got to live out that dream when she spent a day with Mélanie Dunn, CEO of the marketing and communications company Cossette.

Sciascia was among the select few students in a pool of hundreds of applicants from across the country to be named a finalist in the annual CEOx1Day competition run by executive search company Odgers Berndtson.

“My experience with Cossette was truly uplifting,” she says. “Without a doubt, it is one I will never forget.”

Sciascia was the 10th Concordia student to be selected as a finalist since Odgers Berndtson began running the competition in 2014.

Now in its sixth year, the initiative pairs a select group of third- and fourth-year university students from across Canada with some of the country’s top CEOs for a full day at the office.

This year, Montreal-based finalists will have the opportunity to spend the day with the leader of either Cirque du Soleil, WSP Canada, Ivanhoé Cambridge, ArcelorMittal or the City of Montreal.

Students have until October 26 to apply for the upcoming competition.

Applicants gain a new understanding of themselves

“Having it on my CV was a definite differentiator,” says Jesse Carmichael (BComm 16), who was among the 2015 winners. She believes her experience shadowing Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, president and CEO of Via Rail Canada, helped her secure a position with the Boston Consulting Group upon graduation.

Even those who don’t make it to the end stand to benefit from applying. Two thirds of applicants are asked to fill out an online leadership assessment and receive personalized feedback from Hogan on skills such as relationship building, goal setting and strategic thinking.

Additionally, all semi-finalists are considered for an interview with McKinsey & Company for a summer internship or full-time placement.

“Students have told us that going through the CEOx1Day application process was unlike anything they had ever experienced,” says Jacqueline Foley, chief marketing officer at Odgers Berndtson.

“Even those who weren’t selected felt they gained a new understanding of themselves and their leadership potential. And for many it helped them gain confidence in their ability to be successful in their chosen career path.”

Carmichael’s advice for those who want to apply? Take the time to carefully reflect on your motive for participating in the program and prepare anecdotes that illustrate a passion for business.

“The biggest thing is to have the confidence that you deserve the opportunity and work hard to make sure you get it.”

Here’s how the application process works:

Enrolment: You must submit an online application, including your CV, academic transcripts and a written essay on leadership.

Online leadership assessment: Select students will be asked to create an online profile detailing their competencies and leadership potential.

Phone interviews: Chosen students will participate in a short telephone interview.

In-person interviews/evaluation: Semi-finalists will be invited to a half-day event at a local Odgers Berndtson office (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa or Calgary).

There they will participate in individual and group exercises, including speed interviewing and presentations, and have an opportunity to meet and network with some of the firm’s consultants and partners.

Students will receive feedback on their online leadership assessments, and finalists will be chosen and paired with a CEO.

The application period for the
CEOx1Day program runs until October 26.


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