Mtre Martine Turcotte

Mtre Martine Turcotte: A committed leader
By Pierre-Luc Beauchesne, lawyer

After completing her law studies at McGill University and being called to the Bar in 1985, Mtre Turcotte began her career at McCarthy Tétrault, a private law firm, before returning to school to do an MBA at London Business School. Once back in Canada, she joined Bell Canada in 1988 as Legal Counsel and has never stopped climbing the corporate ladder within Bell and its subsidiaries since. Named several times as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, Mtre Turcotte is the only woman to hold the position of Chief Legal Officer at Bell Canada and BCE. In July 2011, she reached a milestone in her career when she was appointed Vice Chair, Québec at Bell.

As part of her mandate, Mtre Turcotte maintains strong relationships within Québec’s business community and with government leaders at all levels, and leads Bell’s involvement in community life across Québec. Among Bell’s many employees and retirees, she is fostering a feeling of pride in the company’s roots in Québec, encouraging them to be ambassadors, promoting and moving the company forward. And for Mtre Turcotte, diversity is crucial: “We must ensure diversity in our companies so that they reflect society; otherwise, we won’t understand the needs of our customers.”

Her career as a lawyer is proving to be useful in her role. During the years she managed Bell’s legal department, she became aware of the domino effect of decisions and of the importance of understanding issues and finding solutions − skills that are naturally transferable to the business world. As CLO, her greatest pride was having built a solid team, allowing her to find her successors internally − the key to being a successful leader. In order to meet the needs of all team members, even on a more personal level, they must be given the right tools: “As leaders, we must provide our employees with tools to help them find a balance between work and family life.”

For Mtre Turcotte, the secret to a successful career is to work hard and love what you do. You also need to learn to create opportunities for yourself by getting involved, being committed and having the courage to keep forging ahead: “You have to know how to seize unexpected opportunities that come your way. To be a leader, you need to dive right into challenges, and especially not be afraid to face them.”

Mtre Turcotte is a committed leader. She serves on the boards of directors of Bimcor, the Jewish General Hospital, Empire/Sobeys and CIBC, in addition to being Vice-Chair of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and a member of the Board of Governors of McGill University and Montréal en lumière. Mtre Turcotte is also Chair of the Board of Directors of Théâtre Espace Go, an organization in which she has been involved for a number of years.

In her opinion, companies must encourage the next generation to sit on the boards of non-profit organizations to help them become leaders: “Such involvement helps organizations that need our support as lawyers and also develops the person’s network of contacts for a good cause. And, most importantly, if you’re going to commit, be 100% committed.”

For Mtre Turcotte, each individual and each company has a duty to give and to reinvest in the community. As a spokesperson for Bell, she is actively involved in Bell Let’s Talk, which is the largest commitment ever made by a company in Canada to mental health. The focus of this initiative is to develop workplace best practices, improve access to mental health care, support mental health research and fight the stigma of mental illness.

On Bell Let’s Talk Day 2015 a record 122,150,772 tweets, texts, calls and shares means Bell will donate a further $6,107,538.60 to Canadian mental health programs. Bell has now committed $73,623,413.80 to Canadian mental health since launching the initiative in 2010. To learn more, click here.