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The VP on the front lines

Bonnie Birollo, EMBA 06, GrCert 10
By Emma Brayley

Bonnie Birollo, EMBA 06, GrCert 10 “My favourite thing is to push people outside of their comfort zones to help them become their best.”

Circle K, formerly known as Mac’s in much of English-speaking Canada and in Quebec as Couche-Tard, is one of the biggest convenience-store chains in the world. Bonnie Birollo, vice-president of Operations for Western Canada, makes it her personal mission to visit every single one of the 305 stores she oversees at least once a year.

Birollo says the business fundamentals she learned through the Executive MBA and Executive CMA programs at Concordia are directly linked to her success.

“My Executive CMA taught me how to read and manage a profit-and-loss statement, and for this I will forever be grateful,” she says.

Proudest professional moment

“The first time I took the stage to address my support-centre staff, field operations teams and key members of our vendor community as the new vice-president of Mac’s Convenience Stores, Western Canada. I was introduced and walked on stage with Van Halen’s Jump playing as my chosen soundtrack.”

Biggest challenge to overcome

“The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires. Many of our employees and customers lost their homes. Circle K Convenience Stores were deemed an essential service. My team pulled together to get the stores reopened after five weeks of being closed — without power — to be able to service the needs of the firefighters and first responders.”

Best leadership advice

“A manager once told me: ‘Take the time to invest in a low-level employee and turn them into a high-level employee. Now that’s true leadership.’ That’s something I’ve truly taken to heart. I always make sure to do everything I can to help someone improve.”

Leadership style

“A combination of high energy and creativity. My favourite thing is to push people outside of their respective comfort zones to help them become their best.”

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