Simon Litt, a University of Victoria commerce student, shadowed BC Pension Corporation CEO Laura Nashman for a day.
BC Pension Corporation. Suit and tie, grey walls, calculators clacking… right?
As I found out, this couldn’t be further from the truth - in fact, I was one of only two people that I saw wearing a tie throughout the whole day! Through Odgers Berndtson's annual CEOx1Day competition, I was granted the opportunity to spend the day with various individuals from BCPC and to shadow Laura Nashman, the CEO of the corporation. I was expecting to learn a lot from the experience... but what I wasn’t expecting was the warm and welcoming culture that emanated through every individual, team, and department that I met. I was able to learn about transformative change and how to manage it, informed decision-making, what a true service business looks like, and the agile approach to innovation, among many other things.
I was delighted to see all of the different initiatives that the executive management of the company have created to empower front-line employees, and how they continuously work towards improvement in all areas of BCPC. Additionally, I was welcomed so warmly that any anxieties that I felt about the day melted away immediately; turns out the snow in Victoria is no match for a vibrant, inclusive work environment.
But my experience doesn't end with examining the culture of the organization; that's just the pretty package that the vast amounts of new information came in, because spending a day shadowing the CEO of one of the largest pension plan administrative agents in Canada is nothing if not an extremely informative experience. Laura is such an inspirational leader and showed me how to successfully listen to, and communicate with, employees at all levels, as well as ensure that a coherent plan and message is understood and internalized by everyone at the company. It was shocking to me to hear the same words, phrases, and sentiments echoed by multiple people throughout the day, even though they were in different positions, teams, and even departments; it's the kind of thing that you hear talked about as a goal, not something you often see in action.
Watching Laura in action left me with more than just a good experience or a few notes though - seeing how well she has implemented change and a cohesive strategy has been reinvigorating for me, and I'm looking forward to using the tips, tricks, and strategies that Laura showed me to help improve the management of the Commerce Students' Society at Gustavson, as well as help empower my successor to operate at his best.
Above all else, it was a single comment that Laura made when we were talking about her last "vacation" - where her and her husband took two weeks to cycle 2000km through the Swiss Alps - that inspired me the most: "I don't do anything 'half'". I am so excited by Laura's drive, energy, and story, and can't wait to use all of the things she taught me and see where life takes me after I finish my BCom degree this August.
I am so grateful to have been chosen to participate in this experience, and my only regret for the day is that it couldn’t have lasted longer.
Thank you again to Odgers Berndtson, BC Pension Corporation, and all of the amazing individuals that I met through this experience!