Marie-Helene Sicard

Senior Vice President, Quebec, Canada

It’s such a simple phrase heard on a flight and it’s one of my guiding principles. “Always put your mask on first, before you help others.” In order for me to give my best, and to foster and support others, I need to be at the top of my form.

Balance: It is your responsibility to make sure that what you give equals what you get. And, you are the only one who can know what that equation means for you.

Focus: I choose where I focus and do not waste my energy on things where I can’t control the outcome. I do not dwell on the past – what is done is done. So many people waste time and energy on little things that have no impact on the big picture. I keep my eyes on the horizon and this allows me to stay focused.

Confidence and Passion: People want to be around those who know who they are, what they want and where they are going. Everyone should know their strengths and weaknesses. Surround yourself with the talents that complete you.
Influencing others: Early in my career, I was fulfilled by tasks, projects and assignments. But then, it was no longer about how good you were at doing something, but how you influenced people in giving, thriving and contributing their best. I get the most pride from my team’s achievements and they become my own.

Risks: If you don’t take risks, you don’t progress. I had the opportunity to take a senior leadership role that involved moving my entire family to France. It was a big risk. I knew I wanted it, I knew my husband was at my side and I knew my boys would be cheering me on – what was the worst that could happen? This experience confirmed I could take on anything if I put my head and heart to it. To anyone contemplating making a life-changing decision, weigh your pros and cons and just go for it.

Networking: You never know who’s sitting next to you. I flew from Toronto to Montreal and sat next to a gentleman. We shared a brief conversation, exchanged business cards and parted. I sent him a Christmas card six months later just to keep in touch. Turns out he was the CEO of a Canadian company. I reached out to him, asked if he could spare some time to meet with me and provide some guidance on a difficult situation at work. Since then, we have both made ways into our careers, yet he remained my mentor. I never thought that a person sitting next to me on a one-hour flight would end up playing such a significant role in my life.

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