Entrepreneurship runs in Nicolas’ family—both of his parents were real estate brokers. What drew him to a career in corporate finance, he says, was the sense that “it was like starting your own business within a big business.”
Born and raised in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Nicolas credits his success in becoming a partner, and ultimately taking on leadership of the firm, to the incredible exposure and opportunities that his own coaches and mentors gave him. “At the age of 25, I was meeting with CEOs, CFOs, private equity firms, and lawyers—people who were significantly more mature and advanced in their careers than me. It was intellectually stimulating and I learned a lot,” recalls Nicolas of one of his first PwC roles. “Providing these kinds of opportunities so that our people can become leaders themselves—within PwC, at another organization or in the community—is something we take great pride in at PwC.”
Diversity of thought is a business imperative for any organization in today’s world, and it starts with creating a work environment where people from all walks of life can thrive. “Inclusion is critical. A team of people who all think the same and take the same approach to challenges won’t help us achieve our clients’ goals,” says Nicolas, who’s held a number of different roles in his 29 years with the firm. “We make the most impactful decisions at PwC—for our clients and the firm — by having diverse perspectives at the table. That’s why supporting people from different backgrounds — for example in terms of age, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation and education — to have a voice and being truly inclusive will always be a top priority at PwC.”
Inclusion is critical. A team of people who all think the same and take the same approach to challenges won’t help us achieve our clients’ goals.
A true believer in team-based decisions, Nicolas is adamant that what happens after a decision is reached is even more important than the decision itself. “Once we leave the room with a decision in hand — whether we were for or against it in the debate — that decision needs to be fully supported by all players,” he says.
Inspiring people to work towards a common goal is core to any winning team and why the firm proudly points to its new vision statement: Creating leaders, inspiring people and bringing perspectives together to achieve what matters most.
“People want more than a paycheck,” says Nicolas of the importance of a shared vision. “They want to feel a sense of purpose and that their organization’s culture aligns with who they are and what they value.”
Having benefited from opportunities he received, Nicolas feels a strong sense of responsibility to help create opportunity for others.
He is an active member of the United Way’s Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity Leadership Roundtable, which focuses on creating economic opportunity in underprivileged parts of Toronto. Other causes he supports include the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Orchestre symphonique de Montréal), which has a program to educate children on classical music that includes affordable concerts. “It’s a world class facility and a world class orchestra,” says Nicolas. “It’d be a shame if only the elite could have access to it.”
Is Nicolas musically inclined himself? “I wish! I’m blown away by the amazing talent when I go to the symphony” he says. “But I’m better off sticking with down hill skiing, water skiing and running.”
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