Distinguished Graduate credits hard work for career success

For Sean Washchuk, the adage of ‘hard work pays off’ rings true.

Washchuk (BAcc ’96), Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for CCL Industries, was recently recognized by the Brock University Alumni Association with the 2020 Goodman School of Business Distinguished Graduate Award as part of Brock University’s Virtual Homecoming celebrations.

“I went to school with a ton of people smarter than me, but I got really lucky working hard,” said Washchuk, who credits his 25 years of career success to hard work and patience. “Because of that hard work, when opportunities came up, I always filled the open spot. With hard work and patience, people will notice you.”

Throughout his career, Washchuk served in a variety of financial roles with increasing responsibility, including nine years in his current role at CCL Industries and 11 years at Vitran Corporation Inc. as Vice-President, Finance; Chief Financial Officer; and Corporate Controller. Prior to Vitran, Washchuk was Controller for Nexcycle Plastics Inc. and acquired auditing experience at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

“My career hasn’t been anything glamourous,” he said. “None of the companies I’ve worked for have flashy slides in their lobbies or nap rooms for break time. I was fortunate to work in industries that were always needed, whether it was garbage and recycling, trucking transportation and logistics, and now, packaging and labeling.”

His decades of experience as a Chartered Accountant and accomplished CFO include financial reporting, treasury, corporate finance, tax planning, international financing structure, acquisitions and investor relations. Over the nine years he’s worked for CCL Industries, Washchuk helped grow the company from $1 billion in revenue to more than $5.5 billion, returning more than 1000 per cent to its shareholders.

In addition to contributing to the success of the companies he’s worked for, Washchuk has positively impacted his alma mater through his financial contributions to Brock’s Annual Giving Fund and by attending alumni events.

“Sean’s contributions to industry, strong work ethic and commitment to Brock University make him an outstanding candidate to receive the Distinguished Graduate Award,” said Andrew Gaudes, Dean for the Goodman School of Business. “He’s an inspiring leader who exemplifies our School’s values of passion, perseverance and professionalism.”

Washchuk is honoured to be recognized as a distinguished graduate, and thanks the many Brock professors and past colleagues who have influenced his career path.

When asked for his advice to the next generation of business professionals and accountants, he challenged students to get out from behind their computer and phone screens, explaining that effective leadership requires strong interpersonal skills.

“Texting and TikToking aren’t real ways to develop relationships,” said Washchuk. “I don’t think social media tools are a substitute for genuine leadership. Getting to know people, understanding what is going on in their lives and business — you can only do that if you’re genuinely talking to people.”

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