Eight company- and shareholder-elected members make up the Calian Group Ltd. Board of Directors. The board contributes to the strategy and governance of Calian. This “Meet the Board Blog Series” profiles each board member.
Name: Valerie Sorbie
Titles: Partner and Managing Director, Gibraltar & Company, and Member of the Board of Directors, Calian Group Ltd.
Year Joined the Board: February 2022
Valerie Sorbie LinkedIn Profile
Q: Tell us a bit about your education and career history, Valerie.
VS: After graduating from Western University with a Bachelor of Anthropology and Biology in 1986, I pursued my studies in France and obtained a Premier Diploma from the University of Grenoble. I then completed my formal education in 1991 with an MBA at the Ivey Business School at Western University.
I have been very fortunate to have had so many varied experiences in my career so far, with each “chapter” spanning seven to nine years. I began in the late 1980’s in strategy consulting at Omega Strategy Partners and Kearney in both the U.K. and North America. In the late 1990’s I became chief operating officer of several software companies, both public and private, in the U.S., the U.K., Israel and Canada. I then went back to strategy consulting, this time in-house at Bell Canada, where I built an internal strategy group to support the business units. In 2007, I joined BMO Financial Group as SVP Office of Strategic Management and ran cross-enterprise, large-scale implementations, followed by becoming chief administrative officer of BMO Capital Markets. The most recent chapter, beginning in 2016, has been in venture capital as partner and managing director at Gibraltar Ventures, a consumer-and-retail focused venture capital fund, and co-leading one of our portfolio companies. In parallel, over the past 10 years, I have also served on 10 boards outside of Calian in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Q: What is the single highlight of your career thus far?
VS: It is so hard to say, as I feel incredibly fortunate to have had such interesting opportunities throughout my career to date, both locally and internationally. Perhaps, the single highlight of my career is a program I set up while running the strategy group at BMO on the sponsorship of women in capital markets and delivering training on optimizing gender intelligence. In addition to the lasting positive impact of the program, the unintended beneficial consequences of the work led to both my role as CAO of BMO capital markets and also being asked to join the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership board, which focuses on the advancement of women and girls globally. This was such an honour, particularly as helping women and men reach their professional goals is a personal objective of mine. I am pleased to be involved with a company like Calian, which sets diversity, equity and inclusion as a priority.
Q: What led you to join the Calian board?
VS: I was originally approached by a former colleague (in Private Equity) on a technology board I had chaired who was incredibly positive about Calian and thought it would be a great mutual fit. Surprised at never having heard of Calian, it immediately piqued my interest. I met with Kevin Ford, CEO, as well as the nominating committee and I was instantly captivated by the breadth and scope of the Calian four-piston engine. The people were fantastic, the company’s mission was very compelling, the historical growth trajectory and future growth opportunities were outstanding. It is a hidden gem! I was intrigued and excited at the thought of being part of this outstanding organization, working with exceptional people and further contributing to its growth.
Q: In what area do you think your contribution to the board will be the most impactful and why?
VS: Given my experience in strategy, technology and operations, I believe I can contribute on a number of fronts. In the short term, I think my strategy experience will be the most impactful as Calian develops the next phase of its strategic plan now that Imagine 2023 is coming to its natural conclusion.
Q: If you were chatting with a new investor, what is the #1 thing you would tell them about Calian?
VS: Calian is an exceptionally complex and well-run company with very strong values (integrity, teamwork, innovation and customer commitment) and an authentic focus on embracing all environmental, social and governance (ESG) elements in everything it does. The company’s success to date is remarkable and the opportunity for growth globally is limitless. It is a company all Canadians can be proud of and would be wise to invest in!
Have you read the previous articles published in this blog series?
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