As a Quebec Strategy coordinator, I work and report directly to the President of SLF Quebec, Robert Dumas. My coordination role is very flexible and is constantly evolving with the needs of the business. Primarily, my role is to design, implement and track the specific strategy plan we have for 2015-2020 for our Quebec business.
The first time I interacted with Sun Life, it was on campus at HEC Montreal, at a recruitment event for the Rotational Leadership Development Program (RLDP). I instantly liked the friendly and collaborative atmosphere amongst the employees and leaders there and felt at ease getting to know them and engaging conversations with them. The concept of the Rotation program also seemed like a perfect fit, given that I had a wide array of interests and was still looking to explore various career paths.
My profile was quite well-rounded and I think this is something Sun Life truly values. Throughout university, I got involved in many different activities; student associations, a Study abroad program in Australia, volunteer work, etc., definitely made me stand out from the pack. My grades were also very strong and I think this can also be a differentiator.
Sun Life’s interview process is slightly different than other companies. They really want to get to know you first and see if you fit with the company’s culture. During the interview, I really tried to share all my experiences and to be myself. The interview felt more like a genuine conversation than an intimidating process. On the interview day, all the final participants got to visit the Montreal office and the old boardrooms that were used way back when Sun Life was founded in 1865. It was fascinating and really exciting to see the historic building up close and to meet Isabelle Hudon, the president of SLF Québec at the time as well as many other top executives. I felt that this confirmed hands on the value Sun Life sees and invests in the rotational program
A day in the life of… Quebec Strategy Coordinator
8.30 AM - Every second Monday of the month, I attend a meeting with Robert Dumas and the Quebec Leadership Team. At this meeting, each Regional Vice President from our main Business Units gives an update on what is happening in the market, which sales are in the pipeline and what our competitors are up to. I give an update on the progress of the Quebec Strategy and participate in the discussions with the leaders at the table.
10:30 AM - After the meeting, I check my e-mails to see if there are any urgent requests from other business partners. A marketing specialist needs me to provide numbers on the growth of our Wealth Sales in Quebec since 2010. I look through some reports and send her the numbers she needs. I’ve received the data I need to generate the Group Retirement Services (GRS) Quebec Sales activity report for the current month and start crunching some numbers.
Noon – I join a few of the other RLDP participants for lunch in the park in front of the building.
12:45 PM – I prep for my meeting at one. I join Sophie Ouellet, Regional Vice-President for Group Benefits in Quebec and one of her Account Executives in her office for a client meeting brief. Sophie will be meeting one of our strategic and key clients next week and needs to be aware of the service level satisfaction of the client and to be briefed on what to talk about during the meeting.
2:30 I grab a quick coffee with a colleague and then I have some time to finish the GRS report I started earlier and am able to send if before the end of the day.
4:00 PM I check the rest of the week’s agenda and plan out my tasks for the next few days. I print out some material for tomorrow morning’s meeting: I will be sitting down with the ambassadors for the United Way Montreal committee. As campaign Director this year, I will be leading the meeting and need to make sure I have everything ready.
The most challenging part of my job is to exert an influence on many leaders who are a lot more senior than I am in the organization. This is both challenging and rewarding because I get to work with senior leaders on driving our Quebec Strategy forward and this project has given me tremendous exposure. I have felt supported by my manager every step of the way and this buy in is what enables me to do my job well. Without my manager’s approval and confidence in my decisions, I wouldn’t be able to have the influence and success I do in my role.
I love it when I see our success in Quebec and the fantastic results we are achieving. I know that I contributed in part to driving these results by implementing and monitoring the second phase of our business and marketing strategy in Quebec. The entire Quebec team is the best in the industry and having the pleasure of working with these driven leaders is what makes my work so stimulating every day.
Everyone is very genuine, kind and collaborative! Sun Life is all about creating synergy between Business Units by helping each other out and rewarding top performers. Also, the Montreal office has a more intimate feel and everyone is very approachable. The program does a fantastic job of creating opportunities for the RLDPs in Montreal to meet with senior leadership and to stay connected. We are also sometimes asked to participate in some ‘extra-curricular’ RLDP projects which are a lot of fun and encourages knowledge sharing between different cohorts.
I feel like I can always ask for help and that everyone is encouraged to ask questions. This means that you can learn so much more and get up to speed so much faster.
I also love that networking is really encouraged at Sun Life. I have had some great discussions and connections made with leaders from all over the organization because I never felt too intimidated to book a coffee chat with them to get to know them and discuss their career paths. Everyone is always willing to give you some of their time and they truly value young leaders who are taking initiative at Sun Life.
The work-life balance at Sun Life is great too. Sun Life values its employees and encourages hard work and productivity from 9 to 5. However, unlike other businesses, Sun Life also values after work activities such as family, friends and a social life. The business sees these as also being important factors that will ultimately lead to better productivity at work.
Sun Life is a great place to start off your career because everyone is extremely welcoming, supportive and encouraging. Senior leaders will be very open to meeting with any employee who shows an interest in developing and growing his career. I’ve also found that in many cases, you will be given a lot of responsibility early on in your career and you will thus have a ton of opportunity to learn.
First, take full advantage of being part of the Rotational Leadership Development Program and network as much as you can. The RLDP gives you a great opportunity to reach out to various leaders in the organization and to build your network in your areas of interest and even in different geographical locations. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of meeting new contacts both at Sun Life and after work, if you can join a business association in your city.
In addition, try to reflect regularly on what you have learned, what you are truly enjoying about your job and where you see yourself in the short and long term. This will help you figure out your path as you go along. However, many leaders have also given me the advice not to worry too much about the end result or figuring out exactly where you fit in the organization; it’s really important to enjoy the process too!
The program is also a great time to take some big risks and get outside your comfort zone. These three years are the perfect time to try something you never thought you would do or that scares you. One of the best pieces of advice I got when I first started at Sun Life was from Isabelle Hudon, Senior Vice-President Client Solutions: take risks, get out of your comfort zone, do something that scares you as often as possible. Even if you are afraid you are not perfectly qualified for it or have the ‘technical’ knowledge, just dive into it and you will figure out the details later. Have confidence in yourself, work hard and you will succeed.