What Went Down at CB Insider’s Fireside Chat With Desjardins Group’s Guy Cormier

A big topic of discussion was the role innovation, sustainability and inclusivity play in transforming the financial sector in Canada
(photo: Desjardins Group)

Guy Cormier’s near 30-year career has resided at Desjardins Group since the now-president and CEO’s humble beginnings as a teller fresh out of university. “For the first seven or eight years of my career, I was working with entrepreneurs who wanted to build up their businesses,” said Cormier. “It’s always been about entrepreneurship and having a positive impact—not only on businesses but also on the community at large.”

In conversation with Jason Maghanoy, vice-president of digital solutions and business development at St. Joseph Media, Cormier joined CB Insiders for an exclusive fireside chat on April 27. In addition to his career progression and ambitions, Cormier spoke to the ways in which his home at Desjardins Group and the cooperative’s emphasis on democracy have played a role in his success. “My job as president and CEO was voted on by our caisse network, which is why this job, for me, is such a great privilege and honour,” he shared. “Having my life-long career take place at one organization is something that I’m very proud of.” 

A big topic of discussion throughout the event was the role innovation, sustainability and inclusivity play in transforming the financial sector in Canada. Reflecting on the company’s unique pairing of financial services with its cooperative business model, Cormier emphasized the value of Desjardins’ members and the freedom that a democratic model brings to such a large institution. Mentorship, the launch of Desjardins’ employee training program and new ways of investing in company culture were among other hot topics. 

Speaking to the pandemic’s impact on Canadians and the national financial landscape, Cormier discussed how his style of leadership has evolved—from bridging the gap between corporate communication and human connection, to having honest conversations on topics like mental health. “It’s an important part of being vulnerable,” he said. “Over the last two years, I’ve learned that even as a leader you have to be humble, and that when you don’t have an answer to a problem, it’s important to be honest about that—and work hard to find a solution. People will appreciate honesty much more than empty words.” 

The fireside chat was part of CB’s ongoing Leadership Circle event series, aimed at bringing together leaders from across sectors for discussions around work, innovation and the principles that generate great business. Watch the recorded event to learn more about Cormier and his work at Desjardins Group, and subscribe to CB for full access to all upcoming Insider events.