General Manager -
Cascades Containerboard Packaging
Cynthia Desjardins, Plant Manager at Cascades Containerboard Packaging in Vaudreuil, was promoted in 2018 to the position of General Manager. The company has benefited from her vision, hard work and leadership on numerous occasions in her 15 years at Cascades.
Cynthia has held several positions throughout her career at Cascades. Routine is not something she embraces! This inspiring woman climbed the ranks at Cascades, starting with a contractual positionat Kingsey Falls in 1993. This is where Cynthia’s quest for more responsibilities began. Rising from contractual employee to supervisor then to manager, Cynthia—it's safe to say— was made to have a management career.
How did you succeed in establishing yourself in a maledominated environment?
I would say though that you need the chops to do this kind of work. I think that making your way in any field takes places naturally, over time, whether you’re a man or a woman. Women may face more resistance at the beginning, and the process may be somewhat slower and somewhat harder for women to make their mark. But once you’ve made your mark and earned people’s trust, you’re good to go!
What is your greatest ambition?
That's a tough question to answer, because I don’t have an ultimate goal I'm striving to reach. I will say though that I'm the type of person who needs new challenges after a few years in the same job. I would hope I can keep moving up the ranks in the medium or long term, since I like to learn new things. I really like challenges.
What are the greatest lessons you have learned?
One thing I learned pretty quickly is the value of surrounding yourself with good people. Success is rarely due to just a single person. I really think that the team is the strength. I also learned that checking the facts is key. You have to be careful not to jump to conclusions, whether this involves a particular situation or people.
What was the most memorable moment of your career?
It’s hard to say if one period of my career exceeds all others, because I have good memories of everywhere I have been! I would have to say, though, that in my time at Cascades, the time spent at the Viau plant was a wonderful challenge for me. The plant was having difficulty at the time, and we managed to overhaul the situation and turn things around. One thing is certain, I love seeing people grow! When my team members get new positions or get promoted, those are always feel-good moments for me!
What perceptions would you like to change?
If you have what it takes, you can achieve anything, regardless of your gender. I would also like to smash women’s perception about male-dominated positions. Women tend to overlook these jobs, usually because of unfounded fears. Personally, I never felt during interviews that I wouldn’t be considered because I'm a woman, au contraire! Companies are increasingly trying to promote gender equality among their employees. Young women need to know that everything is open to them, and women can make their mark more than ever!
Have you always dreamt of having such responsibilities?
An emphatic yes. Always! I’ve always been ambitious, seeking out challenges. When I was working here in Vaudreuil, in 1996, I asked my manager at the time if I could act as a replacement supervisor. I was 24 or 25 at the time, and I knew from the start that I wanted to be a team leader.
What would you say to women striving to fill management positions or positions of greater responsibility?
Don’t be scared to speak up! If I’m where I am today, it’s because I’ve been saying that I would reach this type of position since I was 25. You have to keep it top of mind, keep repeating it to yourself. If something is stirring inside of you, you have to keep moving forward and not be scared to innovate. Get involved and prove that you have the required skills, until someone notices your potential and gives you your shot.
“I’ve been fortunate to follow Cynthia’s career path in the last few years. She is very open, understanding, attentive, diligent and dedicated. Her constant presence has made a real difference to the team: it’s her greatest strength! She has a special touch with people, it comes naturally to her, she makes everyone feel important. Now that everyone at the Vaudreuil plant knows Cynthia well, we all agree that she will make a terrific Regional General Manager! With the potential to thrive in her new position, Cynthia is sure to succeed!”
Roxanne Lauzon, Customer Service Supervisor, Containerboard Packaging in Vaudreuil