Olivia Poulin wants to become a CEO, and for at least one day in March she will have that position — sort of.
Poulin, who is in her fourth-year of business studies at Brock University's Goodman School of Business, is one of 18 university students selected from across Canada to be part of a unique job shadowing program which matches top students with CEOs of leading companies.
The program, called CEOx1Day, is led by search consultancy firm Odgers Berndtson, which matched Poulin with Paypal Canada’s chief executive officer Paul Parisi.
The two will spend the day at PayPal Canada’s office in Toronto on Mar. 6, where Poulin will see first-hand what it takes to run one of Canada’s major companies.
Poulin, a Niagara Falls native, said she is looking forward to learning about Parisi’s leadership style.
“I’m interested to find out what experiences he had that led him to his position as CEO, what is it about his thinking or approach that makes him stand out and how he uses that to make business decisions,” she said.
She said her involvement with Brock’s Goodman School of Business has helped her prepare for the opportunity.
“I got involved at Goodman at the beginning of my first year, and I feel like all the experiences I’ve had in the last four years have led me here,” she said.
Poulin has participated in several student clubs and competitions, including the Monster Pitch entrepreneurial competition, case competitions and the Brock Leadership Citizenship Society.
“I’m constantly subjecting myself to criticism and ways to improve … from competitions and presentations to class projects and mock interviews.”
She is also the founder of Pupadise Inc., a local in-home personalized pet-care service that works with more than 300 customers in Niagara.
Jacqueline Foley, chief marketing officer for Odgers Berndtson, said the shadow program was designed to uncover Canada’s future leaders.
“We wanted students to understand what it means to be a leader today and to get a sense of the business from an operational side.”
“Students have the opportunity to observe what makes a great leader, how business decisions are made and how CEOs surround themselves with good people. They also get actual insight into the business, as the CEOs will often share their vision and plans for the business throughout the day.”
Foley said multiple factors are taken into account before the final 18 students are selected and that the process is a rigorous one, comprised of a psychometric test, phone interview and a half-day office visit where students navigated one-on-one speed interviews and group dynamic exercises.
“We look for well-rounded students who have ambition and who have done more than just academics in their university careers,” she said. “Through the psychometric testing, we look for things like resilience, ambition, sociability, curiosity, group leadership, teamwork — things we know are key characteristics important for today’s leaders.”
The program and has created 88 matches in Canada and more than 1,000 around the world.
Andrew Gaudes, dean of Goodman, said Olivia being selected as one of the 18 students across Canada is “an extremely great honour, both for her and for the Goodman School of Business.”