2014 IW Winners

Thunder Bay | Executive of the Year

Carolyne Leroux

Carolyne Leroux

Always be prepared and willing when opportunity knocks.

That's the message Carolyne Leroux passes to those she mentors at Bombardier Transportation in Thunder Bay.

"To explore your full potential, you've got to take every opportunity and make it your own," said Leroux. "Your level of comfort and expertise may not be where you want them to be, but if your organization offers it to you, you need to embrace it."

As the director of project management, Leroux has been a key figure in the growth and stability of the railway coach manufacturing plant. The workforce had once bottomed out to less than 400 in 2008, and now has rebounded to 1,400.

Leroux arrived in Thunder Bay in 2010, fresh off guiding successful negotiations with Toronto's Metrolinx on an $800-million contract for new light rail vehicles that will keep the plant humming until 2020.

It was a signature career accomplishment, but part of the deal meant Leroux had to move from her hometown of Montreal to northwestern Ontario to set up a project management team.

The mother of two boys willingly made the move with the support of her husband, Toby, who works at Lakehead University.

"This $800-million contract, I manage it like my own business," said Leroux, now marking her 20th year as a professional engineer. Her ascension through the ranks of the Montrealbased plane and train manufacturer has taken her into sales, marketing, strategic development, and bid proposal preparation.

"But my heart is really in project management.

This is my passion. I love the scope and span that you have as a project director and the ability to really get something done and to influence the success of the organization."

Leroux's award nominators praise Leroux for her "extraordinary leadership" and her "innovative management style" that constantly bring new ideas forward and solidify the relationship that Bombardier enjoys with its customers.

She credits many mentors along the course of her career that began with her first international posting in Turkey with SNC-Lavalin where project director Mario Laudadio took a very green 21-year-old under his wing.

"He entrusted me to take on more. I was never waiting to be recognized, I had the recognition daily and this is what I try to give to my team now. I know the power of recognition.

"When you combine the basic project management skills, the desire to succeed, the hard work, the dedication and the strategic thinking, now that I have all of that in my toolbox, what I want to do is pass that on."

Leroux is a willing role model who's eager to help guide subordinates in their career advancement through Bombardier's Women in Leadership initiative, a mentorship program for young executives.

"There are women in managerial positions and on the shop floor and my goal is to allow women to continue to grow in the organization. "I think it's important to show you don't need to be superwomen to do it all. You need to know how to organize your life and say no to some things, and to balance the work."

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