Stacey Rous

Stacey Rous

EVP & CFO at OTIP

Stacey Rous, EVP & CFO at OTIP discusses the company’s people-first strategy, technology trends and its response to the impacts of COVID-19...

Starting her career journey as an accountant in a public accounting firm, Stacey Rous, progressed very quickly into insurance and is currently the EVP & CFO at Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP). “I've been in insurance for too long to mention,” she jokes, “but I just really enjoy it; I'm really good at it. I've also been very agile in my career, saying yes and being tapped for opportunities, so I've been pretty lucky. Before joining OTIP, five people reached out to me in need of a CFO and I met the executive team here at OTIP and they just fit with me perfectly. OTIP is a niche player within the education community, I loved it’s mandate of being a not-for-profit organization and its size fitted well with my expertise, where I not only get to be in accounting but in the operations too.” 

When it comes to her personality as a leader, Rous is someone who doesn’t like to be pigeonholed. “I very much like to lead my teams from what I call a ‘generalist level’, I don't need to be the subject matter expert, I let my teams be those. I joined OTIP when it was in its growth mode providing the opportunity to have a broadscope to harness my leadership skills. I knew that they would allow me to make executive level decisions without being micromanaged, providing me with the ability to influence change across the business and help lead those technologies that matter for our members. I came to OTIP to make a difference in my job and feel valued and I want my teams to feel valued and OTIP fit that background.”

Reflecting on the current COVID-19 crisis, Rous recalls a quote that she had previously read: ‘you have people that run from fires or you have people that run to the fire’. “With the current outbreak of COVID-19, this is an example of a fire in which I would run to, to help out with my ability to remain calm, to keep my critical thinking skills above all else and to be an active listener through challenging times. But what I call a super power is the ability to be patient and let others lead and then for me to redirect when I think they're off course or just to provide another perspective - while this is important at anytime the impact of COVID-19 has only further shown me that, this is what an effective leader is for me.”

Over the years, Rous has evolved this leadership strategy, learning that empathy is at the heart of being an effective leader. “In order to help employees along, you need to show empathy and if they're having an off day to understand why. Also being self aware of myself, if I'm having an off day to make sure that doesn't come through to the team. So waking up and coming to work with a smile on your face, if you love your job, that will show through to your employees. I also strongly believe in lifelong learning. I've always gone out to seek, to learn and to understand in order to bring that expertise into the business and teams. So not only do I do this for myself, I encourage it from my team. I also encourage my teams to have coaches which are independent from my management team that can help them to learn and grow themselves in a way that isn’t solely driven by my ideas and I think that has guided me to my success.”

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