When Vanessa Kanu is asked to provide some professional advice to her younger self she responds quickly and without hesitation: “Be more patient.”
It’s advice Kanu says she frequently summons even today as she passes the 18th month mark of her CFO tenure with technology services company Telus International.
“I’m perpetually impatient and I drive myself bananas,” says Kanu, who stepped into her first CFO role at Mitel Networks Corporation, after a steady 15-year climb inside the company she first joined as a financial reporting manager.Read More
“As the company grew, it gave me an opportunity to learn and stretch myself through various roles. Whether it was external reporting, complex technical accounting, FP&A, or M&A and other planning functions, all these things combined kept me with the organization,” says Kanu, whose 15-year climb spanned a period during which Mitel grew from $400 million to $1.3 billion.
“I had a great mentor at Mitel, who was our previous CFO Steve Spooner,” comments Kanu, who would join Mitel’s reporting team shortly after Spooner was appointed CFO and would ultimately succeed him as Mitel’s finance chief 15 years later.
Along the way, Mitel management would execute an IPO and multiple strategic acquisitions before transitioning back to a private company.
“My thinking was as long as I’m learning and growing, there was no need to leave and that’s what culminated in a 16-year (career) tenure at that organization.” says Kanu, whose CFO appointment by Telus in 2020 upended her 18-month CFO tenure at Mitel – a chapter shortened perhaps by the same appetite for learning and stretching she has always relied on to propel herself forward. – Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Telus International … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Kanu: So Telus International, what we do is we design, build and deliver next generation digital solutions, including AI, artificial intelligence and content moderation, and that’s all to enhance the customer experience for global and disruptive brands. So what we do as we look at our customer set, we’ve got 600 global clients. They tend to over index towards fast-growth technology companies. The verticals we serve are primarily tech and games, e-commerce, and FinTech, hospitality. We also serve media and communications as well, so we really do cover the gamut.Read More
Telus International is also primarily owned actually by Telus Corporation, which is a very large telco, the largest telco actually in Canada. We became publicly traded last year, so we were listed for the first time on the NYSE as well as the TSX and became, and still are to this point, actually, the biggest technology IPO on the Canadian TSX listing.
Continuing to drive our evolution in our still somewhat new public life is a key priority. But really for me, it’s helping to support and amplify the company’s growth strategy, including its M&A strategy. So we are on record as being a very acquisitive company, and we grow both organically, but also inorganically. For me, as CFO, it’s my role in supporting the CEO and the broader executive leadership team at the company to drive those ambitions forward. We’ve also just talked about automation, not just in finance, but also across the organization to not only drive efficiencies, but also drive more value in our work similar to what we talked about, the finance function specifically. We’re a week away from International Women’s Day. Telus International is a company actually that, for us, diversity, equity and inclusion are very much top of mind and have always been priorities, not just recently, but have certainly been in the history and the DNA of the organization, but also helping, my role in helping to drive that forward as well as we also want to continue to evolve in that regard.
“If we have really smart people putting together information manually, then we’re not actually leveraging our people as we should be. For me, automation is not only about improving efficiency and helping the organization grow faster and better, but it’s a key to improving team member engagement.”
– Vanessa Kanu, CFO, Telus International
Telus International | www.telusinternational.com | Vancouver, Canada