Marianne Harrison P’14 P’22
Parent of Current Undergraduate; Parent of Alumnus
President and CEO
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a proud working mother of four, and my kids would describe me as empathetic yet authoritative in both my personal life and the workplace. I majored in English at the University of Western Ontario, but I always knew I was good at numbers and assumed I would eventually go into finance. Thanks to my father’s guidance, I became a CPA, and then I took an in-house role at a Canadian bank 12 years later, which later led me to the Insurance industry.
Tell us about your Saint Michael’s College experience.
I have found Saint Michael’s to care about their students and helping them to achieve success. My daughter is on the women’s hockey team and she has gotten the necessary support to balance her academics and athletic journey. The school listens and is genuinely interested in the success of these young adults that are part of their program.
What advice would you give to female students?
Be your biggest advocate; when you find a role or opportunity you want, don’t hesitate to speak up for yourself and work hard to show why you deserve it. Also, be open-minded and flexible as you first start out in your career; you don’t have to plan out everything and know exactly where you’re going, because you might end up missing a lot of opportunities along the way. Finally, don’t let the assumptions of others impede what you want to do in your career and your life. These are decisions you make – and you’re entitled to make them and still pursue whatever path you wish.
What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Raise your hand to take on new projects, find a formal mentor and have open conversations with your manager about development opportunities and never underestimate your abilities. Also, try to get involved in your organization outside of your day-to-day responsibilities by joining an employee resource group or signing up to volunteer.
What keeps you motivated and driven on an daily basis?
I stay motivated by embracing challenges – not only taking them on, but truly loving a good challenge and the opportunities it represents. I also love seeing the difference we make in our customers’ lives every day. It’s so rewarding to know I help people live healthier, better lives through my work.
What woman most inspires you and why?
My mother has been an inspiration from the very start. As a stay-at-home mom with six children, she always taught me to be the best I could be and the importance of being self-sufficient. She and my father worked hard to help set me up for success.
Is there anything we haven’t asked that you would like to add?
I’d like to share my favorite life lesson: You can have it all. You don’t have to choose between having a family and a successful career. There will be times when you may need to take a step back at work because your family needs you, but it doesn’t mean your career has to suffer. Since my kids were born, outside of work all I focus on is them and as a result we have a close family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.