Taking the CEO seat for a day

2015 Finalists Bjorn Dawson and Kobisan Rasaratnam's learnings from the CEO x 1 Day program are posted on Waterloo University's Student Success blog.

By: Kayla Dixon

Have you ever wondered what the leaders of today’s largest companies are like in person? Wouldn’t it be amazing to job shadow one of these CEOs? Two Waterloo students were lucky enough to have that opportunity.

Kobisan Rasaratnam and Bjorn Dawson were selected to participate in the CEOx1 Day program to job shadow Ellis Jacob, President and CEO, Cineplex Entertainment, and M. Elyse Allan, President and CEO, GE Canada respectively.

These two students were chosen through a rigorous selection process beginning with an online application asking candidates to provide their career goals and thoughts on leadership. Each student also completed the Hogan Leadership assessment to identify personality traits generally indicative of leaders, a 15-minute phone interview, and a half-day in-person interview.

Kobisan is a third-year Accounting and Financial Management student who has aspirations of becoming a business executive. For Kobisan, the chance to shadow Ellis Jacob, one of Canada’s premier Chief Executive Officers was an opportunity of a lifetime.

“Ellis Jacob is a resilient leader with decades of industry expertise. I learned a lot from him when he handled questions with his team, the media, and analysts. With a leading market position, Ellis continues to drive the company to new heights, rather than coast in complacency. He is a humble man, who acknowledges his team’s efforts towards the company’s growing success. He has been a great inspiration to me, as I will continue to strive further and aim higher.” – Kobisan Rasaratnam

Bjorn is a 3B Mechanical Engineering student who was also thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such an influential leader, Elyse Allan the CEO of GE Canada. As the founder of his own company, Grobo – an app-controlled indoor gardening system – Bjorn says that the support he has received from the Conrad Centre and Velocity have contributed to his success in the CEOx1 Day program.

“Spending a full day with Elyse Allan was a truly unique opportunity that provided me with a glimpse into the life of a top executive at one of the most impressive companies in the world. Elyse is a very approachable and down-to-earth leader who is clearly very knowledgeable about the many industries that GE services. This experience was augmented by the fact that the GE team connected me with multiple department heads throughout the day who provided great information regarding different verticals and leadership positions within the company. This is an experience that I would highly recommend to anyone aiming to become a C-level executive.” -Bjorn Dawson