Canadian CEOs and students get acquainted

The Fulcrum, University of Ottawa’s English Language newspaper outlines the benefits of participating in the CEO x 1 Day program for students.

By: Molly Gatt

Competition offers chance to meet one-on-one with company leaders.

Students in Ontario and Quebec will have the opportunity to compete for the opportunity to shadow leaders of Twitter, Cineplex, Adidas, and more through a program that aims to put undergrads in the passenger seat to success.

Odgers Berndtson, an international executive search firm, has launched the competition CEO x 1 Day in Canada with hopes that the organization will connect students with senior executives.

CEO x 1 Day is a program that matches undergraduate students in their third and fourth year in Ontario and Quebec with a senior executive from a leading Canadian organization. This is the program’s first launch and will focus on the Montreal and Toronto markets.

“Our program is designed to uncover Canada’s most promising future talent while giving chief executive officers (CEOs) an opportunity to connect and better understand what drives this next generation of leaders,” said Odgers Berndtson Canadian chair Carl Lovas.

Participating CEOs include Adidas Group Canada president Jim Gabel, Cineplex Entertainment president and CEO Ellis Jacob, Cisco Systems Canada president Nitin Kawale, and Twitter Canada managing director Kirstine Stewart, among many others.
“For students, this is a tremendous opportunity to observe a talented CEO in action, providing them with inspiration, role modeling, and a road map for their careers,” Lovas said.

Odgers Berndtson ran a trial program last spring and finalist Emma Donnelly, a student from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, had the opportunity to shadow the CEO of Cisco Canada.

“I applied to this competition because I thought it would be a valued experience to see what a CEO does day in and day out at a large corporation in Canada,” Donnelly said. “Now I can see how an organization runs from the top and really understand executive roles. It helped me set my goals for the future.”

Alexei Vidal, a third-year marketing student at the University of Ottawa showed interest in the competition and said she hopes to expand her network and learn more about social media. “The CEO of Twitter is someone I am interested in learning more about,” she said. “Twitter is such a huge part of our fast-paced daily lives, especially for this generation. I am curious as to what she does as part of today’s leading virtual trends and how she does it.”

Vidal said her professors constantly stress the importance of building and maintaining professional relationships, and she believes the program will give her the opportunity to do that.

Odgers Berndtson’s goal is to turn CEO x 1 Day into a national program. It has been running successfully in Europe for seven years.