Sept. 11, 2014

Kathy Sendall named this year's Jarislowsky Fellow

Senior oil and gas executive will highlight the importance of diversity
Kathy Sendall has been named the Haskayne School of Business Jarislowsky Fellow in Business Management.

Kathy Sendall has been named the Haskayne School of Business Jarislowsky Fellow.

Kathy Sendall is used to breaking new ground. Having ranked among the Women’s Executive Network Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada four times, made Alberta Venture’s Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People twice, and breached the upper echelons of the male-dominated Canadian oil and gas industry, it comes as little surprise that Sendall is the first woman to be named the Jarislowsky Fellow in Business Management at the Haskayne School of Business.

“Stephen Jarislowsky has crafted a unique opportunity for both the fellow and for students,” Sendall says. “It’s quite insightful on his part that he thought it was a good thing for students to be exposed to issues and topics that will have impact on their careers beyond what’s in the standard curriculum. And for the fellow, or the ‘chick’ in this case, it’s an opportunity to have an impact, but also one that you can shape yourself.”

Diversity is integral to success in business

Each year, the fellowship features events based on the fellow’s strengths and interests, providing unique opportunities for students, faculty, and the Calgary business community to come together, network, and discuss the pressing issues that face business today. For the 2014-2015 year, Sendall has chosen to highlight the importance of diversity in its many forms. While skeptics may view issues such as gender, culture, market diversity and biodiversity as barriers to ideal bottom lines, Sendall intends to show how respecting diversity is integral to success in business.

“Gender diversity is an issue for Canadian business, both in terms of senior management and representation on boards,” she says. “More and more, an understanding of and working with the aboriginal community is crucial. When it comes to biodiversity, you have this issue of environmental sustainability and how you grow and operate in this world. We also need to talk about market diversity, the whole topic of Canada’s competitiveness, the need to compete in the global market.”

Sendall hopes to convince students of the importance of diversity in their careers. “If you want to make successful decisions they have to be ultimately rooted in an understanding of human beings, relationships, the way the world works,” she says. “The theories we learn in business school have to be tempered by the reality of how the world works. It’s great to have ambitious objectives, but you have to keep in mind the practical realities and concerns you’re going to face.”

Succssful in business and as a community advocate 

There’s no denying that Sendall knows how to succeed. The former senior vice-president of Petro-Canada’s North American Natural Gas Business Unit, Sendall currently serves as a director on the boards of CGG, Enmax Corporation and Alberta Innovates-Energy and Environment Solutions. She’s no stranger to serving the communities she works in either, as former President of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, a former member of the Board of Governors of the University of Calgary, and the former Chair of the Calgary Chapter of the International Women’s Forum.

“I really look forward to the interaction with the students. I’m looking forward to what I hope are really robust discussions that are grounded in some of the key issues that face the business community and the world,” she says. “And I look forward to events such as the Jarislowsky Fellowship Marketing Cup, that’ll be lots of fun. But I’m most excited about the opportunity to interact with students and have some impact on how they think and maybe how their future careers go.”

Expertise to be made accessible online and in person

Sendall is working with Haskayne to try and make this year’s Jarislowsky events more accessible than ever, including the recording of certain events for online viewing. “The challenge, as Jim Dewald explained to me previously, is that students are busy and not everyone is available to attend,” she says. “I decided this year we would use technology and try to bring those discussions to students. Technology enables us to tap into a much broader pool of potential speakers if we can connect electronically and have webinars combined with live discussions.”

When asked why she accepted the opportunity to spend a year working with Haskayne to foster its students and community, Sendall cites the prominent position the school has on the Calgary business world, one of the most productive economic communities in the country. “It’s undeniable that Haskayne is graduating high quality graduates that are making an impact on the business world, and the Calgary community in particular,” she says. “Anything I can do to increase their impact is important to me.”