Convocation address by Mary Ann Turcke, BSc(Eng)’88, MBA’97, Exec. Vice President, Field Services, Bell Canada Enterprises, and member of the QSB Advisory Board

Posted on July 1, 2015

Ms. Turcke delivered the following address at Grant Hall on May 23, 2014 to the graduating classes of of QSB’s full-time MBA and Accelerated MBA for Business Graduates programs.

Thank you Chancellor Dodge; Principal Woolf; Rector Michael Young; Dean Saunders.   Thank you – the family and friends of all our graduates.

And finally to the graduates a sincere thank you.  Because of you – your energy, your spirit and your hard work – because of all these things, today, (as we like to say at Bell) – today, because of you, Queen’s just got better.

It is a distinct privilege and indeed a pleasure to be here with you today. And today “Better” is the theme.

I absolutely love Queen’s. I grew up on campus as a child of a professor.  I did not one, but two degrees here. I give back with time and, yes, money. And, most recently, I am a proud Queens parent. My daughter enters her first year in the School of Business this September.  She was 8-months-old when I entered the inaugural class of the “one-year” MBA in 1996.

The better part of two decades has past.  Over that time, I have observed a couple of things that can really make a difference as you chart your next 20 years.

First:  You – be the person who makes people better

Second: Choices


Let’s begin with You. Commit right here and right now to making people better, in life and in work.

Let’s focus on work, where considerable strength and discipline are required to really make this happen.  But:

-        It’s competitive – right?

-        I want the promotion

-        I have to be the best

-        Best grades, best projects, best exposure

So how does this work In a competitive resource- and position-constrained world?

I am here to tell you it happens - one interaction at a time!  

If, eight times out of 10, when you are solving problems, giving feedback, having conversations – whatever – are you honestly saying and doing those things that make your employee, other people’s employees, your colleague or your boss better?

When you do this – you distribute “power and influence” dividends throughout the organization.

This creates impact!

Consider this:

  1. It takes a “village” to  make “real” impacts in large organizations
  2. You have authentically distributed your power & influence dividends across the organization
  3. You have therefore created your village!
  4. You can now accomplish high level change
  5. You now have impact
  6. You have increased your value

Now, you are winning!

And you are doing it all while helping people and making them better

Be that person who makes others better.

I told you there were two things I wanted to talk to you about:

1. You and who you are

2. Choices

So, choices. First, aren’t we all fortunate that we have them?  Never lose sight of the privilege of choice.

Inevitably, over the span of a career, you will be considering a change. I get many a message from the people in “my village”:  “I need a change”, “I am being recruited”; “I have been offered”; “I am thinking....”

These conversations all start the same way – and indeed you likely had one with someone when you were choosing to come here and do an MBA – clearly the right choice!

Over the last 20 years I have observed the following two characteristics in the world of choices:

  1.  A decision can only be made among a set of viable and real choices. Exploring and solidifying choices is as important in your career as performance itself. You have no decision unless one is put before you!

Spend your time soliciting and cultivating real choice.  It will make you better, because choice - real choice  - is leverage.   And more leverage is always better.

The single most important choice to always have – is to stop!


Consider this – if you NEVER leave your job, but have always had the choice, you will be better!

Let me tell you a story.

My first job after my MBA was with a global consulting company firm. My daughter was not 18 months, and I was on the road, five days a week.   I was the only consultant who was a mother in the Toronto office.  A canary in the mine – of sorts!

My first manager said to me that first Monday morning – “This is going to be tough – especially for you.  Do it for as long as you want, and as long as you can, but DON’T mortgage yourself to this salary.”

There is a profound difference in the person who has to go to work and a person who, even though there are down days, wants to go to work.

For me, this choice bore fruit early. After three years of being on the road,  my daughter,  then  four,  while we were cuddling at bed time on a Sunday night , said to me, “ Mommy why can’t you just get a job in Toronto?” 

Make no mistake, for those years I had a clear objective – I wanted that job – so I did it.  I knew the trade-offs I was making, and I made them.  And, within a couple of weeks of that Sunday, I left.

Because I could!

So — that’s it!

  • Make people better
  • Cultivate good choices because it makes you better

My Queen’s MBA changed my life. It put me on a path that I honestly never dreamed of.  I am forever grateful.

Remember – You are now a product of Queen’s so:

  • Be proud
  • Be smart
  • Be grateful
  • Be good

Have a great day!