Vice-Présidente Projects and Development -
Cascades Tissue Group
Joining Cascades in 2011, Annie Tremblay is Vice-President Projects and Development for the Tissue Group. Her leadership, strength of character and team spirit have proven to be central to her progress at Cascades.
Annie isn’t one for routine. Having always worked in the manufacturing industry, this was an opportunity to try something new: working at a head office and satisfying her thirst for knowledge and her desire to excel. However, as the mother of twin boys, she makes a point of maintaining a healthy balance between her personal and professional life. Our team sat down with this altogether inspiring woman to learn more about her career path and background.
How did you succeed in establishing yourself in a male-dominated environment?
I didn’t actually feel that there was any differentiation. I was brought up by a father who didn’t differentiate. For him, it was important to have independent daughters capable of moving up the ladder and attaining the job positions they wanted, which is why I never felt I had to work harder than a man. In any case, because of my personality I always worked hard. But I think I’ve been lucky in my career; I’ve always been surrounded by good people.
What advice would you give to combine work and family?
There’s no perfect recipe. What’s important is to always define your priorities, set your limits and make the right choices so you can achieve a balance that suits you. Choices come with consequences, but if those consequences are in line with your priorities and your values, you won’t have any problem in owning them. For me, eating supper with my kids and being there to put them to bed has always been very important, and I’ve made very few compromises on this.
How do you overcome the obstacles in your way?
For me, perseverance and resilience are important qualities. I’m also a very positive person so I build on this strength. When I come up against an issue or a challenge, I see it as an opportunity to improve myself and learn.
What is your greatest ambition?
My goals in life are to learn and enjoy everything I do. I feel that I still have more to learn and that I still have a thirst for knowledge and the desire to take on challenges. I want to fulfil my potential, but have fun at the same time.
What are the greatest lessons you have learned?
Life is short and you have to grab hold of it. Life’s ups and downs are all opportunities to learn more about yourself and others. To me, no challenge is insurmountable. Our attitude is what makes the difference. You have to take the time to savour your victories and learn from your defeats because they shape who you are. Each of us, with our own personal baggage, contributes a different perspective and these differences are what make a team strong.
What was the most memorable moment of your career?
When I was appointed VP Finance, prior to my current position, it was a great accomplishment for me. I had never laid out a defined career plan for myself but I definitely feel proud to have reached this level. I knew there was a lot of work to do, and that I had the opportunity to put together and shape a team the way I wanted. Looking back on it, I’m very proud of the teams I have built. Everywhere I’ve been, when the time has come to move on, I’ve left behind a more solid and more productive team, and this is incredibly important to me because without these teams, we’re nothing.
What perceptions would you like to change?
When a woman shows ambition, it is perceived a lot more negatively than when a man does. It is possible to be ambitious and want to get ahead without stepping on other people.
Have you always dreamt of having such responsibilities?
While it’s always been clear that I want to succeed in my work, my career has been shaped more by certain opportunities that have come up. My father always told me, “Choose the kind of work you want, but be the best at what you do.” I always kept that idea in mind and when advancement opportunities arose, I was prepared to take on more. At the moment, I’m happy with my current role and responsibilities.
What would you say to women striving to fill management positions or positions of greater responsibility?
First, you have to believe that you can do it and not get discouraged by some of the comments you might hear. Women shouldn’t hesitate to apply for job positions and to be frank about not being 100% perfect. In my case, during the course of my career, when my boss or the people around me gave me challenges, I trusted them; they wouldn’t have set me up to fail. So I let myself be guided.
And last, I would like them to know that it is possible to achieve professional fulfilment and still have a family life. It takes some organizing, but we’re perfectly capable of having both.
“I was one of Annie’s co-workers for a few years before becoming her supervisor. I hold her in great esteem; she is a very hard worker and always available. She puts in long hours but I find she maintains a healthy life balance. Poised and always calm, it’s a pleasure to work with her. She embodies the expression ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove. Annie has the strengths and skills of a top-notch leader; she involves her team members and makes them shine. People enjoy working with and for her because she does a great job stimulating her employees’ development and engagement."
Jean-David Tardif, President and Chief Operating Officer, Cascades Tissue Group