Ellen Pekilis is an independent board director with expertise in governance, risk management, and strategic planning. She was formerly General Counsel with CSA Group, a major not-for-profit with 22 subsidiaries in 14 countries. She was accountable for global enterprise risk management, compliance and privacy in addition to legal services. Ellen has global experience with mergers, acquisitions, and post-acquisition integrations. Her board experience includes CADTH; Endeavour Consulting; and the College of Optometrists. In addition to her independent board director roles, Ellen offers consulting services for board governance and strategic planning. She also writes and podcasts about governance, legal issues, and women in leadership.
How did you find out about Oikocredit?
I saw the ad recruiting new board members for Oikocredit Canada in a Women Get On Board email.
What is most challenging AND most rewarding about being an Oikocredit Director?
There are many rewarding parts about serving as a Director of Oikocredit Canada. Most important has been the opportunity to learn about and participate in a responsible investing initiative that aligns with my values. I have also enjoyed the camaraderie of shared values around the table and the opportunity to use my background in governance in a useful way. I've met some amazing people around the Oikocredit table. The most challenging part has been working on strategic direction in a very complex operating environment – but that challenge is also interesting and rewarding as well.
How do you make your day productive - any habits or apps or tricks?
It’s really important for me to start the day with some form of exercise to get my mind and body in the right space to focus. I am also a big user of To Do lists and project plans for more complex topics. As a sole practitioner, my time is all I have to offer. I use the OfficeTime app to track both my billable and non-billable hours so I have an idea of what I’m actually putting my time into. Understanding how long it actually takes me to do things helps me improve my planning and forecasting.
What is your idea of the perfect vacation?
My perfect vacation involves family, great food, and exploring a new culture where I’ve never been.
Who inspires you?
There are so many people to choose from, so I will skip the obvious people like Nelson Mandela and Terry Fox. One is my grandmother, who was completely uneducated - but could speak 5 languages. She worked in a sweatshop garment factory as the main breadwinner to raise three kids who all grew up to value the power of education. Another inspiration from the broader community is Zita Cobb. She is an IT entrepreneur from Newfoundland who made her fortune in Big Tech. She realized that she had the means to help her community in Newfoundland that had been economically devastated by the collapse of the cod fishery. She pivoted and focused on building an inclusive social enterprise at Fogo Island, Newfoundland. It provides jobs via sustainable ecotourism as well as supporting local arts and culture. I find her story completely inspirational about how personal success can help raise up an entire community. Her story is part of the reason I started to think about responsible, socially inclusive investment and try to find a role I could play in that ecosystem.
Stay Tuned next month as we will get to know another director from the OCSA board.