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The Directors College Profiles—Spring 2016

by Kathleen McGuire | May 24, 2016

Our Alumni

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Anna Paluzzi, C.Dir.
IT Business Management, ePMO,
Canadian Tire Corporation

What is the biggest challenge in Corporate Governance today?

I believe that one of the biggest challenges in Corporate Governance today is risk governance. Enterprise risk, unfortunately, doesn’t always make the priority list of items on the agenda or discussions. Boards must continuously look forward, and understand the risks that have the potential to cause harm to the organization. It’s no longer acceptable to treat risk governance as a check box or rubber stamp activity. Boards must set the strategic component of enterprise risk, such as risk appetite and tolerance but they must also monitor how risk is being managed within the organization and set the tone at the top to influence the risk culture. Unfortunately, too many organizations wait until a crisis before paying close enough attention to both the inherent and residual risks in their organization. With the speed of technology that keeps coming at us, it’s a daunting task to understand the risks, let alone deal with them. Boards must be prepared to look for ways to either bring these increasingly critical technology skills to their boardroom table, provide education opportunities for their members or bring in experts to advise them. Risk is not a topic that is going away and needs to be addressed at every level of an organization, including the board. We don’t have to look far at some of the news headlines to see how cyber risk is impacting every industry and sector, pubic or private—no one is immune. It’s a challenge for the greatest, most technical minds and certainly continues to be one if not the greatest challenge at the boardroom table.

What is your greatest accomplishment in your board career?

My greatest personal accomplishment during my board career was graduating from The Director’s College in 2015. The time I spent with my fellow students and staff was amazing, overwhelming and pushed me out of my comfort zone on so many occasions. The 100+ hours spent with my incredible study group over the Christmas holidays was probably one of the craziest times of my life as we all helped each other prep for that very very scary exam. It was worth it as we all made the grade and graduated together! It was a great accomplishment for me and it made me a better, more enlightened and wiser governor, individual and professional.

If we were sitting here one year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?

I would have to say that I would celebrate the opportunities I’ve been given participate on panels, in workshops, to write about my governance experience and most of all I’d celebrate all of the people who have shared their experience and time with me over the last several years. They have helped me grow, be more courageous and confident.

If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?

That’s a tough one. I’d have to say I’d choose to have an “invisibility cloak,” not so I could spy on others but so I could be in the same room as some of the world’s leaders to understand what they’re thinking, why they do what they do. Then I’d use the information to influence government to bring peace to our world. I genuinely worry about this earth, what we’ve done to it and the unspeakable acts that we inflict on others. Ok, so I might have some fun with that invisibility cloak too—but all good, clean and ethical fun.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Is everywhere an acceptable answer? I love to travel and have had the privilege to explore many parts of the world, but there is one place in this world that is very near and dear to my heart. It’s a tiny little town in the Apennine Mountains in Italy called Villa Santa Lucia. This is the birthplace of both my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family. For me it’s the place where my soul and heart sing with joy. It is my refuge—where I feel totally at peace and connected to my roots among the ancient homes of my ancestors, the cobblestone streets and the majestic mountains. This is the place I would choose to travel to first and foremost, and I do every chance I get.

Who is your role model and why?

My father has always been my role model. He taught me about integrity, work ethic, to respect all people and always be kind. My father had very little education, but was the smartest man I knew. He read everything he could get his hands on and taught my brother and I the importance of learning. He and my mom came to Canada with literally nothing to their name, but he worked in the steel mill and saved every penny until he could open his own business and follow his passion as a custom tailor. My father wasn’t afraid to take a educated risk, try new things and push himself intellectually. He led by example and boy was he proud of his children. He was my biggest supporter and never hesitated to express his pride in what I accomplished, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant if may have seemed to others. He believed in me and always told me I could accomplish great things and do whatever I set my mind to...and he made me believe it too. He’s been gone from the physical world for 20 years, but he is part of my very being and his wisdom guides me each and every day.

Where are you now?

I am coming to the end of my seventh year as a director on the board of the Central West Community Care Access Centre where I currently serve as Chair of Finance, Audit and am the Treasurer of the Board. I am looking for my next opportunity to contribute to another organization. I continue to participate in many board related events and the article I wrote on the topic of Risk Governance will soon be published in Risk Watch: Thought Leadership in Risk, a publication by The Conference Board of Canada. I recently attended a panel discussion put together  by Women Get on Board,a member-based company that connects, promotes and empowers women to corporate boards. I was so impressed with the panel discussion, the men and women in attendance, the very comfortable and professional culture. I immediately signed up as a member. I’m looking forward to all of the ways this will enable me to pursue my passion for governance, take my next steps and to meet and learn from my growing network of great leaders and governors.

Our Faculty

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Steve Vieweg, C.Dir.
Chief Executive Officer,
CPA Western School of Business

What is the biggest challenge in Corporate Governance today?

I believe that it is very simple—the general lack of education and training in governance is the biggest challenge. Without that education, I find that Directors, who are well-meaning, approach issues from too much of a micro-level and also lack the skills for routine matters, such as the protocol for in-camera meetings.

What is your greatest accomplishment in your board career?

In my role as the CEO for the Certified Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada), the Board of Directors was comprised of twelve Directors who were elected to the Board, a representative from each provincial and territorial organization and two lay-members. Matters including Board rotation, Board consistency, conflict of interest (ie. is your duty to CMA Canada or the provincial organization?, etc.) and Board size (for meaningful dialogue) were weaknesses of that structure.

The CMA Canada Board of Directors and the provincial/territorial Boards developed a new structure that reduced the size from 27 to 12. The change was met with resistance from a small group of members; however the change was approved by the membership. The challenges of implementing the new model included influencing, selling and the implementing the model.

In terms of diversity, where do you see boards one year from now?

Diversity is an all-encompassing term and means different things to different people. From my perspective, diversity is not myopic, but broad and therefore includes gender, ethnicity, Director residence, sector and historical contexts (in the case of the new CPA profession, it would be very helpful to ensure the three legacy designation are included in governance, especially near the beginning of the merger.

If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?

If that superpower existed, it would be that all Directors have successfully completed a governance Program, such as the Chartered Director Program. The reason that I selected this superpower is for a number of reasons:

  • All Directors are competent Directors, form an education and training point-of-view
  • The CEOs job is made easier as the line between her/his role and the Boards is regularly at the forefront
  • Discussion and decision-making would be done with the governance education in mind.
  • The Chairs would generally be more effective

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

The world is so large and there are so many places that could be selected. If I had to choose one, it would be the New Zealand and Australia region. The Kiwis and Aussies are so down-to-earth and remind me of Canadians. Their tourist industry is also one of the best in the world.

Who is your role model and why?

This is a difficult question as I can think of different role models for varying environments. The one individual that I admire for the way he brought about change is Mahatma Ghandi. He brought independence to India and accomplished this with a groundswell of support an in a non-violent way. If you were to look at the independence issue before he was involved, you would have expected significant conflict (ie. wars) and political confrontation. The confrontation was inevitable; however, I would love to know how he was able to keep the entire revolution so peaceful. I recognize that there were likely hundreds, if not thousands, of factors that had to go right, but he managed to put all the puzzle pieces together and make change happen. To me, this is a classic case of change leadership at its best.

Where are you now?

I am now the CEO of the CPA Western School of Business and we are experiencing significant change, due to the merger of the three accounting bodies. I served as a Director on the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) for six years and also as a Technical Advisor; however my term ended approximately two years ago. That role showed me the diversity around the globe, especially from accounting standards perspective. I am serving on the Engineers Manitoba Council and also consult for a number of health-care Boards and senior staff. The consultation is very basic, but allows me to keep my finger on eth pulse of governance in the not-for-profit and health sector.


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