Olivia Poulin’s dream of becoming a CEO is much closer than she thought.
The fourth-year business student from Brock University’s Goodman School of Business is one of 18 students selected from across Canada for a unique job shadowing program that matches top university students with CEOs of leading companies.
The CEOx1Day program, led by search consultancy firm Odgers Berndtson, matched Poulin with Paypal Canada CEO Paul Parisi.
The pair will spend the day together on Tuesday, March 6 at PayPal Canada’s office in Toronto.
Jacqueline Foley, Odgers Berndtson’s Chief Marketing Officer, said the 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,” she said, adding that the day will be filled with learning and mentorship opportunities.
“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.”
The selection process was 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.
Foley said multiple factors are taken into account before the final 18 students are selected.
“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 has created 88 matches in Canada and more than 1,000 around the world.
Poulin, a Niagara Falls native, said the Goodman School of Business has helped to prepare her for this 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, the Monster Pitch entrepreneurial competition, case competitions and the Brock Leadership Citizenship Society. 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.
“I’m constantly subjecting myself to criticism and ways to improve,” she said. “From competitions and presentations to class projects and mock interviews, Goodman has prepped me all along the way for this day.”
She said she is most 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.
The rigorous selection process shows Goodman students are prepared for a competitive work environment, says Goodman Dean Andrew Gaudes.
“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, and it once again demonstrates that our students understand content and are prepared to pivot and think critically, even in challenging environments,” he said.