Representation Matters: Celebrating Chantal Théorêt

March 17, 2021 Jacquana Beckwith

Acuity Brands is proud to celebrate and recognize our top talent. Each week in March, we will profile a female leader who is lighting the way for our associates, customers, and communities. We sat down with them to find out about their professional motivation and get a glimpse of who they are outside of the workplace. 

Chantal Théorêt earned her mechanical engineering degree from l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. Her vast knowledge of aeronautics, electronics, manufacturing, procurement, and design make her an invaluable asset.

What is your advice for other women leaders?

It's exciting to see more women holding top positions within companies. As more women work to progress in their careers, I encourage them to be decisive, outspoken, but not aggressive. It is important to utilize your skills to improve your emotional intelligence. Focus on your strength, and always try to remain authentic. Do not try to be someone you are not.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Every leader should be prepared to handle a crisis. This is when your team will need you the most. Analyzing the situation and making the best decisions very quickly will build your team's confidence in your abilities and improve overall outcomes.

What is the greatest challenge that you have conquered?  

Being an overweight woman in a man’s world, I am overweight from a metabolic syndrome, and although I have worked hard to eat healthy meals and exercise, I still struggle with my weight. I am a mechanical engineer, and it is a field where men outnumber women about 7 to 1. So, when you have to do a job in a man’s world, you need to prove yourself even more than other men, and as a woman who is overweight, others may perceive me as less motivated. I often feel judged because people don't take the time to understand the underlying causes that I battle daily. 

What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others? 

I see leaders mistaking aggressiveness, like yelling at employees, being very stubborn, and not valuing your team's contributions, as being a good leader.  True leaders understand that listening skills combined with being assertive yield better results. It is important for leaders to hire great people. When those people give you ideas, implement them! We all have to be mindful that your team is working toward a common goal. Also, don't forget to give team members credit for their ideas.

Who are the 3 greatest living musicians, and why? 

Angus Young (guitarist from ACDC) – He is a great guitarist who gives all of his energy. He gives the best show I have ever seen.  Julie Andrews- She is the image of class, poise, and represents emotional intelligence to me.  Dolly Parton- She was thought of only for her appearance, but she is a terrific singer, actress, author, humanitarian, and businesswoman.  She demonstrates a lot of leadership.

If you could time travel, where would you go and why? 

I would travel to the beginning of the space program to be a part of the first seven (the women were called the first 13 but never got to space).  I would love the experience of creating this new space agency.  I love being challenged and thinking outside of the box. 

What would you do if you were invisible for a day? 

I would visit my loved ones and my employees to see if they are truly happy and have what they need.  If I could expand on my powers, if I saw they needed something, I would work to give it to them to bring a smile to their face.

Which TV family is most like your own?

The Tuohi family (The Blind Side).  I have fostered my 2 kids. My oldest son is adopted, and I am still fostering my daughter. What I like most about this family, specifically, Mrs. Tuohi, is that she does whatever it takes to help her foster son succeed. I try my best to do the same for my kids. My children have special needs, and every day we work to provide help and resources that will help them achieve their goals.

Would you rather win an Olympic medal, an Academy Award, or the Nobel Peace Prize?  Although I would love to win all three, I would prefer to win an Academy Award.  I've always loved the stage… acting… dancing… singing… 

If you were guaranteed to be successful in a different profession, what would you want to do? 

I wanted to be an aerospace engineer to become an astronaut when I entered university, but there was a campus shooting at l’École Polytechnique de Montreal my first semester.  This tragic event impacted school resources and ultimately derailed my goal. Instead of 10 students being included in the aerospace engineering program, they only selected five, and I was sixth in line. 

 

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