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Leadership spotlight: Joanne McKee, BAdmin, MBA, CPA, CA

March 02, 2017

This article was originally issued in the March 2017 edition of Ryerson Works, an employee newsletter.

Financial services meets community involvement

After working in public accounting, Joanne McKee started her higher education career as the accounting manager at a college. With twenty years of progressive management positions overseeing financial service departments at the college and two other universities, Joanne joined Ryerson as the chief financial officer in July 2015.

As she explained, she couldn’t be happier to have landed at Ryerson.

"Our campus, in the core of downtown Toronto, is distinctly Ryerson. It’s my first time working in a big city, but I continue to feel as much of a connection to the community and campus as I have anywhere else. It’s part of what drew me to Ryerson in the first place.”

Finding the perfect balance

Naturally drawn to people and social settings, Joanne describes accounting as her first love. She was thrilled to learn that Ryerson’s chief financial officer position blends technical skills with the opportunity to empower the community. “We have a responsibility to provide financial oversight and guidance, but also to provide customer service and resources. We’re here to help, to educate and to ensure understanding of our policies and processes.” As Joanne described, her role gives her the perfect balance - pun intended.

Commitment to lifelong learning

Joanne shared that she aspires to treat people the way she’d like to be treated, and so she aims to lead the way she’d like to be led. This means constantly evolving and assessing ways to learn and improve. When she’s faced with difficult situations, she tries to reflect on how she’s seen others handle similar challenges and emulate their strengths.

Part of continuing to grow means not being afraid to make a mistake. In fact, when she thinks back on the beginning of her career, she wishes she had told herself that she didn’t need to be such a perfectionist. While it's not always easy, she reminds herself that challenges are opportunities to reflect on how you can move forward with new lessons, “Things happen, but they’re always teachable moments to step back, learn and grow.”

“Things happen, but there is always a teachable moment to step back, learn and grow.”

Fostering enthusiastic, collaborative, inclusive teams

Joanne focuses on creating an approachable team, bringing integrity and openness to the table. Early in her role, her management team participated in the Leadership@Ryerson program as a cohesive cohort. It provided an opportunity to come together, bring everyone's strengths and differences to the surface, to ultimately better understand how they can complement each other’s working styles.

Key to creating a successful team is understanding that people are more than just their nine to five roles.

“I want to focus on a person’s skills and talents, ensuring that people feel they are treated equitably and fairly - given access to professional development opportunities but also flexibility and understanding about their personal and family lives.”

As Joanne explained, it’s important for her team to be inclusive of diverse experience and thought. By reflecting the community it serves, the team is better able to respond to the support needed in the community.