How did you get involved in TMA?
D.J.: I initially got involved at the committee level,
working on educational, social, and networking events with
ther members of the Toronto Chapter over a number of years. In the course of that committee work I was approached by
members of the Board of Directors to consider a leadership role by applying for a Board position. I subsequently served on the Board of the Toronto Chapter for six years, and in my last year on the Board I was elected president. I currently serve as Chair (Past-President). During the last few years as a member of the Board of the Toronto Chapter, and certainly as president, I became more involved with activities and initiatives at the TMA Global level, and began to focus more of my time on working with the global team of TMA leaders. I currently serve as vice-chair of the Chapter Presidents' Council.
Tina: I became a member of the TMA over 15 years ago when I joined High Ridge Partners. I became more active about five years ago when I decided to change my approach to marketing. I made a conscious decision to develop deeper relationships with fewer people instead of continuing with a shot gun approach of spending just a little bit of time with a lot of people.
I became an active TMA NOW committee member for about three years by not only attending events, but getting involved in planning and marketing TMA NOW events before joining the leadership team as a co-chair of TMA NOW for the past two years.
Hot topics in our community are: leading change, successes and failures, mentorship/sponsorship, and earning the role. Have you had any experiences in any of these areas that made a strong impact on you?
D.J.: Leading change is something that I've experienced both within my own firm, and externally in our profession. As the first woman partner in my firm (which I'm now happy to say has 50 percent women partners) I've experienced many "firsts." The difference between being the only woman at the partnership table 19 years ago, to now having a critical mass of other women partners is refreshing and encouraging.
Earning the role is a tricky thing to navigate. For years, women heard that if they just "put their head down and worked hard, their work will be recognized and they will succeed." While there's no substitute for hard work and being prepared to do whatever it takes to exceed client expectations every time, unfortunately that's rarely enough. It requires thoughtful steps being taken to learn and then demonstrate leadership skills, exercise good judgment, gain confidence as a leader, and earn the respect of others. No one is going to hand you a book of business or a seat at the partnership table. It takes years of hard work in the trenches combined with skills that you pick up along the way, and experience that you gain from your various successes and failures.
While I have not participated in any formal mentoring programs, I have been very lucky to work with the three founding partners of High Ridge Partners for over half of my career. Also, as an American National Bank Alumni, I was exposed to some extremely talented lenders and bank executives very early in my career.
Part of my objective as a co-chair of TMA NOW is to introduce new people to the TMA, especially women in our industry, and also to encourage and inspire them to participate and take advantage of what our events and membership have to offer.
In your opinion, what's the most exciting/interesting trend or event happening in the turnaround and restructuring industry?
D.J.: The increase in the number of women moving into in-house positions with clients, creating new opportunities for networking, and new business.
The impact of millennials in our practice. The movement of millennials into practice will be the single biggest catalyst to bring women "over the hump" and break down the barriers that have existed for decades. Millennials view people differently than older generations; they do not view people based on sexual orientation, race, culture, or gender. Millennial views will have the effect of accelerating the process to creating more proportionate representation by women in the profession.
There has been a lot of discussion in the industry over the robust access to capital. For example, we are not always dealing with a traditional middle market bank as the secured lender or primary capital provider in many of our recent engagements. Therefore, we are being challenged to develop solutions that may not be consistent with our traditional methods for restructuring businesses and selling or liquidating assets. We must be creative and able to respond quickly while continuing to mitigate risk. So, while I consider myself a fundamentalist, as I believe that acting in a fair and equitable manner while being consistent in utilizing best practices is a sound approach, the challenge is to find new and creative ways to apply these fundamentals to achieve the desired results. I think that to be successful while also being creative is to understand how far you can stray from our traditional practices without creating exposure to our clients.
What's the best career advice you've ever received?
D.J.: Never be afraid of change. We're in the business of change in terms of the work that we do for clients, and yet many professionals are so reluctant to step outside their own comfort zone to see what opportunities might exist. My experiences have taught me that being flexible and open to changing circumstances and seeing the opportunities that exist as a result of those changes can produce some of the most rewarding experiences.
Become an economic force within your firm. Having a book of business creates self-confidence in your own skills, independence (in not having to rely on others to feed you work), and makes you a valuable financial contributor to your organization in a way that is objective and measurable.
One of the greatest influences in my career was one of my customers when I was a lender at American National Bank. While I don't believe that he was the original author of the phrase, he frequently said that you need to "Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan" and I have adopted that mantra.
It's also important to have the discipline to measure your progress against your own plan. Planning is only effective with evaluation. I help people develop plans and then measure the performance against the plans. We'd be remiss to not do the same in our own careers.
What would someone who only knows you professionally be surprised to learn about you?
D.J.: I grew up in a town of 600 people in Northern Ontario, seven hours northwest of Toronto and an hour away from the nearest city. Most of my family still lives there. (That's why I now live in a city with a population of more than three million!)
Not many people know what "D.J." stands for. I've had judges of our Commercial Court ask my partners that question, and the answer they've received is: "If I tell you, then I'll have to kill you!"