Soft skills reshape the workplace as key to a successful school-to-work transition

Seventh annual CEOx1Day mentorship program brings together top students and CEOs, focusing on the value of soft skills in business leadership

CEOx1Day 2019 Press Release


TORONTO, September 30, 2019 – With the rise of digital technologies, automation and artificial intelligence, organizations are changing the way they look at talent. According to a recent LinkedIn survey of 5000 talent professionals in 35 countries, soft skills were cited as the top trend transforming the workplace (91 per cent) with skills such as adaptability, collaboration and persuasion at the top of the list.

With a deep understanding of this trend, Odgers Berndtson is bringing together Canada’s most promising future leaders and top business executives through its annual CEOx1Day program, a leadership development program that provides students with the practical skills to build their future careers. For the seventh consecutive year, top students from universities and colleges across Canada will meet with 20 CEOs from some of the country’s leading organizations for a day of mentorship and real-world leadership experience.


Participating CEOs in this year’s program include:


Jennifer R.  Jackson, President, Capital One Canada

Dolf DeJong, CEO, Toronto Zoo

Terry Yanofsky, SVP and General Manager, Sephora Canada

Mary Ann Yule, President and CEO, HP Canada

Garrick Tiplady, Managing Director, Facebook and Instagram Canada

Joanne Simons, CEO, Casey House

Brian Bentz, President and CEO, Alectra Inc.


Sasha Suda, Ph.D., Director and CEO, National Gallery of Canada

Mark Goudie, CEO, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group

Alex Munter, President and CEO, CHEO


JF Gagné, CEO and Co-founder, Element AI

Mario Plourde, President and CEO, Cascades

Sylvain Prud’homme, President, Lowe’s Canada

Lucia Pollice, President and Managing Director, CDMV

Sylvain Cossette, President and CEO, Cominar


Christy Wyatt, CEO, Absolute Software

Chris O’Riley, President and CEO, BC Hydro

Steve Oldham, CEO, Carbon Engineering Ltd.

Calgary & Edmonton

Christine Healy, President & CEO, Total E&P Canada

Andrew Ross, President, Clark Builders


Students feeling unprepared for the workplace

With 89% of talent professionals reporting that most hiring and firing decisions come down to soft skills, many students say they are not equipped to navigate a successful school-to-career transition. A recent survey of Generation Z students by Odgers Berndtson’s CEOx1Day partner, TalentEgg, confirms this. TalentEgg found that close to half of post-secondary students (53 per cent) and early-career professionals (56 per cent) felt unprepared or only somewhat prepared to enter the workforce. However, despite a lack of preparedness, students do recognize the value of soft skills. The study also found that the majority of post-secondary students (85 per cent) would be interested in taking online courses for soft skills training or to help them transition from the classroom to the workplace.

“While technical skills are the qualities that get candidates an interview, it’s soft skills that ultimately set an individual up for success upon joining an organization,” said Mary Barroll, President, TalentEgg. “The expectation that young people develop soft skills over the course of their career is a thing of the past. We are seeing a dramatic increase in employers’ expectations on individuals entering the workforce to demonstrate both the required technical skills and the soft skills that make them stand out as leaders among the crowd.”


Assessing the soft skills of Canada’s future leaders

Students participating in the CEOx1Day program have a unique advantage among their peers. Together with partner Hogan Assessments, Odgers Berndtson assesses CEOx1Day students to identify how effective they will be as young leaders by looking at key soft skills such as interpersonal communications, listening, creativity, resourcefulness and a high interest in learning.

“Our assessment process is a great starting point for our semi-finalists to become more self-aware and to start reflecting on how others will perceive them when they interact with colleagues and senior leaders in a business environment,” said Eric Beaudan, Global Head, Leadership Practice, Odgers Berndtson. “Through speed interviews, group exercises and various interactions with our senior recruiters, they also get the opportunity to hone the soft skills that are essential during the interview process and in the workplace. And for those who make it to the final round, the opportunity to observe a CEO in action is the best training of all.”


About CEOx1Day

To date, more than 800 finalist students, CEOs and organizations have participated in Odgers Berndtson’s CEOx1Day initiative worldwide. Students can apply to participate in the program until midnight on October 25th at

In addition to the support of TalentEgg and Hogan Assessments, McKinsey & Company and The Globe and Mail are key partners in the program’s success across Canada.


About Odgers Berndtson

Odgers Berndtson is a leading global executive search and leadership advisory firm with more than 250 partners in 29 countries. We provide our clients with a broad range of integrated talent solutions – including executive search, executive interim and leadership assessment services – to help them grow and compete in today's challenging environment. We also invest in the development of Canada's up and coming leaders with unique programs such as CEOx1Day and the CFO Leadership Program in partnership with the Rotman School of Management. More than 50 per cent of our clients have also been our candidates – a testament to the relationships that we build across the talent spectrum.


Jacqueline Foley

Odgers Berndtson

416.366.1990 x362


Catherine Snider

Kaiser Lachance Communications

647.725.2520 x212