Canadian university students to compete for once in a lifetime opportunity: mentorship by the country’s top CEOs  

Toronto, October 1, 2014 – For the second consecutive year, leading global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson is giving third and fourth year Canadian university students the opportunity to be CEO for one day. Through a rigorous selection process, Odgers Berndtson will identify students with outstanding leadership potential and match them with a CEO from one of Canada’s most prominent companies in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

Launching today, students can submit an online application at until November 7.

Closing the talent gap for Canadian businesses

According to a 2012 survey of Canadian senior executives conducted by Leger for Odgers Berndtson, more than 90 per cent believe they do not have the right next generation talent in place within their organization to take over at the executive level. More than half (62 per cent) of these executives also admit to having no formal plan in place to address the anticipated talent shortage.

"The looming leadership gap will pose significant challenges for Canadian organizations over the coming years,” said Rob Quinn, a partner at Odgers Berndtson. “With CEO X 1 Day, we are literally investing in Canada’s future leaders. The program is designed to uncover the country’s most promising young talent, while gaining valuable insights into what drives them.” According to Mr. Quinn, the goal is to develop this next generation of hopefuls and ensure they are on the path to success. “While CEO X 1 Day is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to be inspired by some of Canada’s seasoned business minds, the program is also a way of connecting today’s top leaders with the next wave of change," added Mr. Quinn.

Participating CEOs include:


Chuck Jeannes, Goldcorp
Laurent Potdevin, lululemon athletica inc.
Launi Skinner, First West Credit Union


Nancy Knowlton, Nureva Inc.
Dave Mowat, ATB Financial
Ken Mullen, Savanna Energy Services Corp.


Elyse Allan, GE Canada
Robert Courteau, Altus Group
Tony Gaffney, Aon Hewitt Canada
Ellis Jacob, Cineplex Entertainment
Lanita Layton, Hugo Boss
Dr. Barry McLellan, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Patrick Nangle, Purolator
Saäd Rafi, TORONTO 2015
Aly Rahemtulla, BSM Wireless


Manon Brouillette, Videotron
Alain Brunet, SAQ
Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, Via Rail
Charles Guay, Standard Life
Yannis Mallat, Ubisoft
Thierry Vandal, Hydro-Québec

For the President and CEO of Cineplex Entertainment, Ellis Jacob, the decision to participate in CEO x 1 Day was simple. “For students, this program is an opportunity to get a first-hand, unvarnished look at business leadership,” said Mr. Jacob.  “Throughout my career, I’ve had mentors who helped me become a stronger leader and business manager, and who continue to be great sounding boards. That’s exactly the type of experience this program aims to provide.”

For students involved in the program, it gives them a unique chance to learn from, and be influenced and inspired by some of Canada’s most innovative and successful business leaders.“I am definitely g oing to take the learnings from the program and apply them to my career,” said former York University student, Charu Jaiswal, after spending a day with Elyse Allan, President and CEO of GE Canada in 2014. Now a Studio Y Fellow at MaRS Discovery District and working on a start-up she co-founded, Ms. Jaiswal said she had the opportunity to see how a CEO can foster a culture of innovation. “The experience at GE confirmed that I want to work in an environment where I am allowed to learn, grow, and challenge the status quo.”

About the Application Process for CEO x 1 Day

Third and fourth year Canadian university students are required to complete a four-step application process:

  1. Enrollment: Initial applications will be evaluated based on the student’s academic record, resume, charitable and extracurricular activities and a brief written essay on leadership.
  2. Online leadership assessment: Those selected to advance to the second phase will be required to complete an online leadership assessment from Hogan Assessment Systems and Performance Programs Inc.
  3. Phone interviews: Conducted by Odgers Berndtson search consultants, these interviews will establish the semi-finalists moving onto the final phase of the application process.
  4. One-on-one evaluations: Semi-finalists will spend a half-day with Odgers Berndtson consultants, participating in individual and group exercises as well as one-on-one interviewing. A total of 21 finalists will be selected to move onto the final stage, shadowing one of Canada’s top business leaders and gaining a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in today’s global economy.

Banner image is Shelby Macleod of MacEwan University with Nancy Knowlton, Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nureva Inc.




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