Playing with the Big Kids: Winning the CEO x 1 Day Program

MacEwan University student Shelby MacLeod blogs about her experience at Nureva.

Shelby McLeod & Nurevo CEO during CEOx1Day

By: Shelby MacLeod

I know not to believe sayings popularized by pop culture; however, when I won the CEO x 1 Day program and the opportunity to shadow a CEO, I couldn’t help but think, “I started at the bottom now [I’m] here.” It’s quite the jump going from being a student to being beside the CEO of a successful technology company, even just for a day, but it’s a good enough feeling to make me want to sing myself!

The CEO x 1 Day selection process involved a leadership essay, resume review, telephone interview, leadership assessment, and an in-person evaluation day. It was a process similar to one that Odgers Berndston actually uses when searching for executives and I was honoured to be treated on the same scale. Little did I know, this feeling was small compared to the real respect that was given to a finalist in the workplace.

I was chosen to work with Nancy Knowlton, one of two CEOs of Nureva Inc., an innovative technology company located in Calgary. Her and her husband were already successful in pioneering the SMART technologies. She ensured her skilled staff were aware of the program and throughout the day, I was personally acknowledged by each member. Some of them went as far as to ask for raises, which I jokingly granted on a one-day-only basis.

My favourite part of the day was sitting in on a high-level meeting with representatives from each part of the team. They had a huge task at hand, developing new products, and I found the duties and dates flying around hard to follow. Nancy was vigilant in keeping the team focused on priorities, while also encouraging everyone and giving them space to create their own solutions. It was interesting to see it all come together. At the end when I was suddenly asked, “Shelby, what’s your recommendation?” all I could bewilderingly answer was, “keep on it!”

Nancy, always able to back up her ideas with research, explained that recognizing students with special designations or challenges motivates them to succeed and reach further. Students don’t always have opportunities to be recognized, but it doesn’t mean that each one doesn’t have potential and expertise to succeed in a particular area. Thanks to the CEO x 1 Day program, Odgers Berndtson, and Nureva Inc., I’ve discovered my aptitude for leadership and responsibility.

Students, next time you see an opportunity with a lengthy application progress, don’t shy away: you just might find an experience to raise you from “the bottom.”