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Lakehead University Magazine Fall/Winter 2007

Profiles in Leadership


Ugo & Andrea Feunekes
This Fredericton-based company creates software for sustainable forest management planning that is considered by many to be the standard in the industry. Software developed by Remsoft Inc. is used in the management of more than 200 million acres of forestland on five continents. The company was founded in 1992 by Andrea Feunekes (BA/HBOR’83), President, and Ugo Feunekes (HBScF’83), Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. Andrea went on to complete a MScF (UNB) and Ugo completed a BSc (McGill) and a MScF (UNB).

What is your leadership style and what makes you effective?

Andrea: I believe in providing my team with the tools to do their job effectively. I hire smart, capable people and then get out of their way. Because I include our team in discussions about our company’s direction, we are all focused on the same goals.

Ugo: I like to lead by example. I work in a “pod” alongside my technology team. This helps us to collaborate more effectively and create a great work environment.

How has your Lakehead University education helped you in being where you are today professionally?

Andrea: Besides the fact that Ugo and I met at Lakehead, I received an Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lakehead University. I was not at all expecting to run a software company. My education at Lakehead was a stepping stone to better understand our natural environment and how to communicate its value to the public.

Ugo: I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from Lakehead University and then completed a Computer Science degree at McGill University. These degrees combined my two interests and enabled me to develop the software tools that we sell.

What is your idea of professional and personal success?

Andrea: As far as professional success goes, I believe I have achieved many of my goals. I really enjoy coming to work everyday. I lead a great team of people who are making a difference in the way our forests are being managed around the world. Personal success to me is to know that my family is happy.

Ugo: Because Remsoft is very successful and our software is selling all over the world, professionally I am happy. I feel successful when I have been able to solve interesting problems.

What are the major challenges faced by leaders today and how do these compare with yesterday’s challenges?

Ugo: The main challenge facing leaders today is adjusting to a global marketplace. The global market can also be their best advantage, depending on how prepared they are.

What role does higher education in general play in developing leaders relative to actual experience in the “trenches”?

Andrea: Higher education gives us a broader perspective. It opens our minds. We are better thinkers and analyzers, and learn how to learn. These are important characteristics when facing the many challenges of leadership.

Remsoft has received numerous awards including the Business Excellence Award (Chamber of Commerce), Export Achievement Award (Alliance of Manufactures and Exporters of Canada), KIRA Award – Export (Knowledge Industry Task Force), KIRA Award – Technological Innovation (Knowledge Industry Task Force), and the Community IT Hero Award (IT Association of Canada). Andrea Feunekes is the 2006 winner of the RBC Entrepreneur of the Year award for Innovation in Technology.


Glenn A. Miller
PenEquity is a Canadian company that has undertaken retail and entertainment development projects in excess of 4.2 million square feet, including Toronto Life Square, a 500,000 square-foot multi-use complex scheduled to open in the fall of 2007. The Toronto-based company was established in 1984 by its Chairman Glenn A. Miller (BSc’69, Grad.Dip. Bus.’69) who holds an MBA from the Ivey School of Business.


Success to me is finding the balance between the professional and the personal life, and never losing sight of family being the highest priority. There are always times when the professional life has demanded exceptional time and effort, but success is keeping it all in perspective and being able to compartmentalize. It is also important to recognize that each of your team members needs as much of that balance as possible to be fully productive. If you have balance, you have success.


I believe that the generic basket of required leadership skills is the same today as yesterday. What is different, in this truly global world, is the accelerated rate of change and the speed of communication. In a few decades we have gone from taking as long as years to change product lines, markets, manufacturing and production lines, and distribution to weeks, if not days. An acceptable response time, previously measured in days or weeks, has now shrunk to an expected immediate response. The challenge is in how quickly and fully we embrace the new technology and then how best we control its uses and efficiency before it controls us.

Canadian Leaders

Canada is highly respected abroad, both in the public and private sectors. We have an exceptional culture and standard of living, a highly educated work force, and abundant natural resources. We embrace technology and, in fact, are on the leading edge of technology in many areas. We compete successfully on the world stage. By almost every competitive measurement tool, we have the credentials to take a leadership role in a global world. While it is not the Canadian way, we have earned the right to wave our flag more than we do.

Role of Higher Education

The key leadership skill that both higher education and experience develops is intelligence. Leaders develop intelligence over time. Higher education gave me the big skill — how to learn. But I know many individuals who figured it all out in the trenches. That being said, over the past few decades it has become more and more essential to take the university stepping stone, otherwise you end up with a disadvantage when starting your career.


Kate Bird
Through its offices in Ontario and Nova Scotia, Career Essentials specializes in upgrading the skills of unemployed adults in order to facilitate their reintegration into the workforce. The company offers individualized services covering assessment, training, job search, and co-operative experiences. It was founded in 1998 by its President, Kate Bird (BEd’94) who in 2002 was named Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Startup by the Rotman School of Management.

Leadership Style

My approach is collaborative and, although I understand I will never achieve consensus on everything, I feel strongly that I should be able to sell my ideas to people. If I can’t, then perhaps they're not the best ideas after all. I would rather take the time to explain my rationale to get “buy-in” from my staff than take an authoritative approach.

Personal and Professional Success

My ideas of professional and personal success are very similar. I love challenges and I love to appreciate the “moment.” Because of my background in Physical Education and Education, I take great pleasure in watching other people thrive and succeed, and I enjoy being able to facilitate their success.

Major Challenges

The character of the people we’re leading has changed dramatically. Managing staff 10 years ago was very different from managing staff today. It is important for leaders to understand their staff’s motivation in order to truly lead.

Role of Higher Education

I think higher education prepares us to think on a grander and broader scale.… I feel that the more education and knowledge I possess, the better able I am to have discussions with people from various fields. Being a good leader requires that I find ways to connect with my staff and my customers, and the more I know, the more I can interact with people whose interests might be different from mine.


Frances Picherack (BScN’73, MEd’78) is the Founder and President of Petrine Consulting Inc., a company based in Edmonton and Vancouver. Since 1991, Petrine Consulting has provided strategic policy advice, issues management, and capacity development services to health systems (mainstream and alternative, public and private sectors), as well as to governments, regulators, educational institutions, public tribunals, and foundations.

Lakehead Experience

Both my degrees at Lakehead were very timely. They strategically enabled me to be at the forefront of leadership and innovation in the focused world of health care, and in the broader arena of planning, evaluation, and political economy in the larger and politically sensitive health arena. Lakehead, for me, was the beginning of “pushing the envelope” of both discovery and application that has fuelled the passion in my career path.

Two professors at Lakehead influenced me profoundly. Sharon Oliver, who had come to Lakehead from McGill, told me that change would be the most continuous challenge in career development for my generation. She encouraged broad thinking and robust search and discovery, but made it clear that this was not enough without having an open mind and operating ethically and with sensitivity to people. Sharon Oliver engendered a pride about scholarly activity, and how it would inform the many career changes we would make over the years. She celebrated the fruits of inquiry with the students, and put them into broader professional and personal contexts, teaching us the power and rewards of curiosity in the face of change. Mary Richardson, a professor in Education, encouraged the diversity of doing my graduate work in a field outside of nursing and  health, as it could satisfy my primary interest in research methods at a time when a dearth of such degrees existed in health policy, planning, or administration. Lakehead University blessed my taking the road less travelled, and, as Robert Frost says in his poem, The Road Not Taken, “that has made all the difference.”


Personal success for me is living and celebrating a meaningful life with family, friends, and colleagues. A meaningful life is interesting, challenging, progressive, reflective, and spiritual. Whether it involves the joy or sadness of life, it faces the truth with respect and compassion. It allows me to make an ongoing contribution to family, friends, and society.


Understanding globalization as a space rather than a place brings leaders squarely into the eye and consciousness of civil society. The leader who sees globalization merely as an imposition from other places or a threat to a self-declared or former elite uniqueness tied to their place, does not understand - or may be denying — that knowledge, information, innovation, and discovery can be derived from anywhere today.

Transparent processes and rules for the conduct of enterprise (private or public sector) are part of an integrated web of changing norms, laws, and conventions reflecting societal values, such as dignity and respect for diversity and fair business practices that must be afforded to all. Some leaders may not be aware of or acknowledge that dysfunctional, unsafe, unethical, or corrupt patterns or processes at home or abroad will manifest publicly. Such naďveté or disposition may result in unwanted or negative forced disclosure or publicity that an enterprise or leader cannot recover from without significant transformation.

The leader who develops the skill and has the ethic to collaborate for innovation — while retaining a watchful and humble eye as well as the courageous commitment to say “No” or, when necessary, halt a situation — will have a positive and successful leadership impact in the emerging global space, regardless of global place.

The fundamentals of these challenges have always existed. They are more compelling and more transparent today because of global consciousness, increased accountability, and public scrutiny. The impact of disclosure that comes from leadership failure to understand the global space is far more serious, abrupt, and unforgiving today. The leader of today can take none of this for granted and must robustly and continuously exercise diligence not only in what to do and what not to do, but how to be, ethically as well as strategically. Leaders at the forefront of significant and enduring successes in the global arena consistently manifest an understanding of global space.


David Shannon
David Shannon (BA’86) is Executive Director of the Canadian Paraplegic Society (Nova Scotia) and author of Six Degrees of Dignity: Disability in an Age of Freedom, published by Creative Bound Inc. , in 2007. David has a law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, and a Master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Leadership Style

My approach is very collaborative. No vision can be implemented without a team working together on a common objective. With this in mind, I like to establish a common theme or purpose to our work, then draw from the capacities and strengths of each group member, and build upon their collective talents in order to steer project completion.

Lakehead Experience

This was a critical time personally to build confidence and self-esteem through intellectual pursuits. It became my motivator for law school and graduate school.

What Defines Success

Seeing those around you improve in their skills and ambitions and grow emotionally.


Responding to technological advancement in a socially responsible way, and maintaining human rights and civil liberties in the face of shrinking resources and the pressures of armed conflict. This is nothing new, but history has shown what happens when responses are not measured and thoughtful.

Canadian Leaders

I am profoundly concerned that leaders in Canada and throughout the world have not yet embraced the paradigm shift that is necessary to respond to a global world. Dignity as a cornerstone of new social constructions will be necessary, but it is all too frequently missing when considering ethical responses to advancing technologies, displaced persons, poverty, climate change, and armed conflict to name a few.

Role of University

Without higher education a leader will always be missing a critical piece, like an incomplete puzzle. I am not suggesting that one cannot be a leader without higher education or that higher education creates leaders in and of itself. It is, however, foundational.

Impact of the Lakehead Experience

It helped me intellectually, socially, and otherwise, so I am constantly drawing upon my experience at Lakehead to develop my expertise. Perhaps the greatest benefit at Lakehead was the curriculum which, for the first time, exposed me to great thinkers in a concentrated and sophisticated way. I often look to their work to dream, quote, establish my professional ethos, and to maintain structure to my work.
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