After having served several years on WCT's National Board of Directors, as well as playing a key figure in the organization's national mentorship program, WCT welcomed Cheryl Fullerton, Executive Vice President of Corus, People and Communications, in her new role as Chair of the National Board. With over 25 years of experience as a business-focused people expert, Cheryl Fullerton is the driving force behind the creation of high-impact and integrated HR solutions to support the exceptional creativity and performance of Corus' over 3,500 people.
Cheryl was the obvious choice for our profile this month, and so we sat down to ask her a little bit about how she got to where she is now.
WCT: What does a typical day look like for you?
CF: The short answer is ‘very eclectic’ which I love. And which makes it hard to answer the question. Lots of meetings and conversations. Some to listen and be updated, some to brainstorm and create solutions, others to make decisions and execute initiatives. If I look at yesterday as a proxy, the day included work-related topics like pension plan assets, COVID, well-being, government relations, internal communications, corporate social responsibility, compensation and more. I also had committee meetings related to the work I do with Covenant House in support of at-risk youth and moderating a webinar for WCT. That is as "typical" as it gets!
WCT: Can you tell us a little bit about your career trajectory?
CF: I went to school interested in learning about science, and having a career in health care. The decision to take a pause post-BSc before locking into a particular path ended up taking me in a very different direction. I started in total rewards; pension, benefits, compensation. Then became fascinated by leadership and culture, and broadened my experience and career from there. I have had the distinct pleasure of working in a number of Canadian-owned and operated organizations, and in a variety of industries including retail, business services, food products and media.
WCT: What or who has been a major influence on your career journey? Who do you look up to?
CF: There are so many people who have influenced my career, people who have set an example and provided support. However, the first person who comes to mind is Aliana Rozenek, at a company called The Oshawa Group that was later acquired by Sobeys. Until then I had only seen men in senior executive positions. Having the opportunity to work with Aliana in my early career made a big impact on me. I saw a senior executive woman who was decisive, experienced and commanded respect and was also vocal about well-being and creativity from a very people-oriented perspective. I remember vividly that this opened up a whole new way of thinking about myself and my potential. Representation really does matter.
WCT: What words of advice would you give to your younger self?
CF: The advice would be "live your life on purpose." This is something that I often integrate into my coaching or mentoring with others. I realized in my late 30s that although I was doing well, I wasn’t really purposeful about thinking what I wanted. From that point onwards my focus shifted. Whenever I started to feel I might need something more or different, I work on figuring that out, and making it happen. Making choices on purpose.
WCT: What is your long-term professional goal?
CF: Someone asked me recently what I wanted to be when I grow up, and I had to laugh because I have so many things I would like to do. And I never plan to grow up fully. I expect longer term I will always want to have a role in the leadership of an organization, with the ability to be involved in all aspects of building a strong strategy and a healthy culture. Both in my day job and with involvement on corporate and not-for-profit boards. Beyond that, my aspirational goals involve writing and "performing" of some sort. Whether personal essays and acting in community theatre or best-selling book and public speaking–only time will tell.
WCT: Do you have a quote or a book you live by?
CF: A quotation that I have had posted in my workspace for many years was said by Maya Angelou: "Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better." On one hand it reflects the continuous learning and growth that I intend to embrace for as long as I live. And on the other hand it reinforces the caring mindset of supporting others in their ongoing growth, that I never want to lose sight of.