Begin your career as a CEO! CEOx1Day at PayPal Canada

2018 CEOx1Day Finalist Olivia Poulin with PayPal Canada CEO, Paul Parisi

CEOx1Day is a unique chance for top students to try on a CEO hat for size! For one day, a top student is paired with a Chief Executive Officer to learn what it takes to lead a prominent organization. Olivia Poulin stood out during the rigorous application process and landed this amazing opportunity. Read on to discover her top tips for students who may be interested in applying for this once in a lifetime experience!

Olivia first heard about CEOx1Day through a business competition (JDC Central) she participated in. She was intrigued by the opportunity to meet with a CEO from a global company to understand how they make decisions and drive success. So she took the plunge and decided to apply!


Olivia had to go through 4 stages of the application process overseen by the program’s founder, the global executive search firm, Odgers Berndtson: (1) an online submission which included a short video, (2) a Hogan Leadership Assessment, (3) a phone interview, and (4) a half-day in-person workshop at Odgers Berndtson’s Toronto office. Her advice for potential candidates remains consistent for the entire process – be yourself, be real and authentic. Showcasing your personality helps you find an organization that suits your style and goals as well as a particular CEO that can teach you the most.

In the video I submitted I talked about how I felt there was a gap between learning in the classroom and work in the real world and how I was doing anything I could to help bridge it (i.e.: starting a company, case competitions, etc.) and I think showing them what I really wanted out of the program helped them see I would be a good fit!

Brock University Olivia Poulin meets with Paypal CEO Paul Parisi

Olivia prepared extensively for both the phone and in-person interviews. To prepare in an organized manner, Olivia wrote out her experiences, challenges, awards, important programs and defining moments of her life to really ground her responses in actual accomplishments and examples. In this way, she was able to feel confident that she wouldn’t forget anything in the heat of the moment and could incorporate those points into her answers to relevant behavioural questions.

The in-person interview process is an event called the Semi-Finalist Day. Candidates get to meet their peers and be evaluated by industry leaders through a round of speed interviews.

There were 20 students in that room and I just had to be remembered as one of the 7 they could name and had a good experience with. I remember leaving each round of the speed interview feeling good that I had been authentic and engaging and felt that I had made a connection with each interviewee – something they could remember me by.”

Meeting the CEO of PayPal Canada

Olivia was matched with CEO, Paul Parisi of PayPal Canada. Prior to their meeting, she did her research to understand his experience, interests, and communication style. Knowing that Paul is known for being fun and engaging helped Olivia feel less nervous before the big meeting.

During the day, she was comfortable enough to ask for career and life advice on balancing her entrepreneurial ability with a desire to learn from corporations.

Olivia Poulin sitting in meetings with Paypal CEO Paul Parisi

Olivia was included in many meetings that day – new product discussions, internal audit meetings, bank negotiations, HR and strategy meetings, and much more!

We changed gears so many times in a day and it was super impressive watching him jump from task to meeting to conversation and always be “in-the-know” and on top of everything. I saw that his team really respected him, and I loved the way he interacted with them.”

Outcomes & Lessons Learned

Olivia not only learned a lot about leadership, the company and about herself, but she also left PayPal extremely inspired and uplifted. Throughout her CEOx1Day experience, she was challenged to think on her feet which was valuable to learn for her personal and professional development. She discovered that she too could quickly shift gears throughout the day, adapt to unfamiliar situations, and connect with a variety of people. But perhaps her biggest discovery was the importance of helping others on their journeys of discovering who they are. Olivia says this stuck with her the most after meeting Paul Parisi: “A leader’s job is not just to lead, but to create more leaders”.

CEOx1Day was a truly transformational one day journey for Olivia, and it could be for you too! The online application is open – find out more and apply now!

This article was originally published by our CEOx1Day Partner, TalentEgg here.