Tell us about your background, education and experience. How did you land into your role at Encasa?
I have found my way to Encasa via a rather eclectic route. My focus has always been on effecting change – environmental, social and organizational. I started my career as an environmental planner and continued to manage environmentally-focused public and non-profit sector organizations throughout my career. I also worked with indigenous communities on policy and program initiatives, and in a broader context, lead cross-border initiatives to provide for greater collaboration and stronger policy coordination on environmental, social and trade-related issues. For a period of time, I was closely aligned with the political arm of government, helping to guide legislative and policy decisions. These experiences furthered my understanding of organizational and governance structures, and the pivotal role of people in shaping the success of organizations and in effecting change.
I became interested in leadership and developed an executive search practice in the public and non-profit sectors, including supporting the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Housing Services Corporation (formerly Social Housing Services Corporation) and Encasa Financial Inc. (formerly SHSC Financial Inc.) on a number of human resource and governance related initiatives. And Encasa Financial stuck! Financial services, as a new sector for me, captured my intellectual interest and the social purpose nature of the business captured my heart.
What does your role entail? What exactly is corporate governance and why is it a vital function for organizations?
Governance is all about the structures, instruments, systems, tools and people an organization puts into place to control, direct and hold to account the organization. It includes the constating documents; bylaws; shareholders agreements; policies; risk, compliance and evaluation frameworks; tools that manage board, committee, shareholder and management relationships; and the associated authorities and decision making processes.
The tenants of good governance are generally considered to be: participation, consensus, accountability, transparency, responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, equity and inclusiveness, and abiding by rule of law. Governance has been receiving lots of attention in the investment sector in recent years with a growing interest in ESG (environmental, social, governance) factors being taken into consideration when making investment decisions. The general feeling is that companies with good governance structures and practices are better run organizations and will be more successful.
So, what do I do? I build the structures and tools, ensure consistency and legal integrity, manage the processes and ensure documentation. I oversee the operation of the Shareholders, Board of Directors, Audit Committee, and Independent Review Committee; work with the CEO on strategic and corporate planning initiatives; and team up with the Chief Compliance Officer on regulatory matters pertaining to our role as an Investment Fund Manager.
What is your favourite part of your job? What is your least favourite?
I like to build things and I like to understand how things fit into the bigger picture. I like to take all the bits and pieces and create conceptual frameworks that all the pieces fit into – that strengthen an organization’s governance foundation or decision-making capacity. I like to see organizations thinking outside the box, doing new things, moving in new directions and being progressive in the way they interact with their world. Building tools, resources and processes that support creative, sound, and accountable decision-making ensures that decisions are being made for the right reasons and are in the best interests of stakeholders.
Probably the least favourite thing about my job is writing minutes – a wee bit boring!
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
I actually have a few. I think about them frequently and have passed them onto my children as I believe they have held me in good stead: Seize the opportunity – think outside your comfort zone and don’t live with regret. Make decisions for the right reasons – be true to yourself and have faith in your intuition. If you’re going to do it, do it right!
If you weren’t working in corporate governance, what would you be doing?
If my career path hadn’t evolved in the eclectic way that it has, and if I was to start fresh – I think I’d be an architect or a lawyer – perhaps opposing skillsets but both skillsets I like to utilize. I love built form and have an artistic side that could use some nurturing while I also have an interest in societal foundations – like governance. I think of both of these professions as valuable in building community – obviously in very different ways.
Whether I am thinking about what my career might have been or where my life might go in the future, being involved in building community will be top of my list. But in addition, I will be pursuing athletic and travel adventures, smothering myself in cultural indulgences, dabbling in creative pursuits, and ‘chilling’ with my large extended family and friends.
Thanks, Glenda! Visit our Encasa Team page to learn more about the Encasa Financial team.