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Laurier CEO-in-Residence Tim Penner urges students to go global
Wilfrid Laurier University alumnus Tim Penner (BBA ’78), former president of Procter & Gamble Canada, urged students to set themselves up for learning on a global scale in his keynote address as Laurier’s CEO-in-Residence.
“The best career move I ever made was moving to England. It stretched me in ways I needed to be stretched,” Penner said Monday, speaking to a crowd of faculty, staff and students at Laurier’s Waterloo campus. “Don’t limit your career choices to one country.”
Global experience was just one of many tips that Penner shared during his talk, titled “My Path to Leadership (And Some Tips For Yours).” Other advice for career success included setting bold goals, embracing change, helping to create a positive corporate culture, and staying balanced.
As well, he said rather than focusing on getting that next great job title, look for opportunities where you will learn the most.
“Think about learning rather than managing your career,” he said. “It makes you a more valuable member of a community.”
Penner, who was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo, joined Proctor & Gamble (P&G) right after graduation. He lauded Laurier’s Career Services for helping him get his start, and urged students to attend recruiting events that bring together a “smorgasbord” of companies.
In his early days with P&G, he worked in various marketing roles in Canada, advancing to the position of general manager of Health Care products. From 1993 to 1996, Penner was the vice-president of P&G’s Health and Beauty Care in the UK and Ireland. He said his time in the UK was a high note in his career.
“They handed me the reins, and it doesn’t get much more fun than that,” Penner said.
From 1996 to 1999, he was vice-president of the N.A. Paper business, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. He returned to Toronto as president of P&G Canada in 1999 and held that role for 12 years before retiring in 2011, after 33 years with the company.
Outside of work, Penner has served for 10 years on the Ontario Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress. He is vice-chair and leads the fundraising committee for the YMCA of Toronto. He also serves as a trustee of Sick Kids Hospital. He is on the Board of Intact Insurance, the largest property and casualty insurance company in Canada.
The Laurier CEO-in-Residence is an appointed honour by the dean of Laurier’s School of Business & Economics, and has been developed to deliver a perspective to students beyond their studies and research in the classroom.
The inaugural CEO-in-Residence was Stacey Mowbray (BBA ’84), president and CEO, The Second Cup Ltd.