Ten questions for… Geneviève Fortier | “It starts with a walk”

Ten questions for… Geneviève Fortier | “It starts with a walk”
Ten questions for… Geneviève Fortier | “It starts with a walk”

Every Friday, a decision-maker is revealed in our section. This week, Geneviève Fortier, CEO of Promutuel, answers our questions.


Posted at 1:32 a.m.

Updated at 8:00 a.m.

What are your best and worst habits?

My best habit is to train three to four times a week, it allows me to maintain the clarity of mind that I need to lead, I need to do that. I also have another habit which is to regularly call my mother who will soon be 88 years old. His wisdom continues to benefit me. My worst habit is not taking enough time to eat and sleep, it’s an old bad habit.

What do you do when you need to come up with an idea?

Often, for me, it starts with a walk. I go for a walk in nature, I take a step back, I take the time to stop, breathe and I let the ideas come. Often I come back with three good ideas and I challenge it with my close guard, we discuss it. Nature is a way to let creativity flow.

How do you unplug?

Sport is the first way to unplug, then reading, then taking time with family and friends. I try to do all of this at different times in a week. I am able to turn off the switch quite easily, I have a very efficient internal clock that allows me to unplug when necessary.

What advice are you glad you ignored?

It was advice from a leader who had a very narrow view of things and who thought that my aspirations of wanting to be CEO were disproportionate because I had been trained in industrial relations and probably didn’t know how to count well… It was a boost. Never again would anyone limit my ambitions, and today I am CEO of the fourth largest insurance company in Quebec and chair of the board of Investissement Québec. Two positions where you need to know how to read a financial statement…

Is there a difference between female and male leadership?

In fact, every leader is different. There are attributes on the feminine side that bring a broader dimension to leadership. Everything that revolves around intuition, listening, working with people to succeed. Today’s new leader profile fits these attributes well. On the other hand, a guy doesn’t ask himself the question: do I have everything it takes to succeed? This is an attribute that women must acquire.

Are you more office or home?

I’m a bit of both, in fact I’ve always been both. At the turn of the 2000s, I was already balancing work-life. I was already working partly from home in the executive jobs I’ve always had and on the road. Home and office is not enough, I need to meet people, connect with them. Working from home allows me to do things that I don’t need to be around people for.

What physical activity do you do?

I am disciplined. I have been training twice a week with a trainer for 15 years and I started running eight years ago, twice five kilometers a week. I love nature, I play golf, I walk a lot, I ski, physical activity is part of my lifestyle.

What was your biggest mistake?

I ran for president with one of my previous employers and I probably wasn’t yet ready to run that race, but it transformed me, it gave me the kick-off to say: don’t wait for the organization to give you this opportunity, go get it. I left pharmaceuticals, went into insurance and everything fell apart.

A good boss is someone who…

The best bosses I’ve had – and I try to be like them – are those who offer an inspiring and unifying vision and who create the space for the team around them to want to give their full potential. A good boss doesn’t crush, he nourishes and must have great listening skills.

The ideal retirement?

This is going to be some tips to keep my brain stimulated. It’s going to be six months a year traveling, playing golf, satisfying my curiosity and the rest of the time, it’s going to be spending time with children, grandchildren, friends doing the outdoors, skiing, enjoying life.

Who is Geneviève Fortier?

Chief Executive Officer of Promutuel Assurance since December 2019, Geneviève Fortier became the first woman in 170 years to lead this insurance company. She has also been chair of the board of directors of Investissement Québec since May 2022.

A human resources specialist, Geneviève Fortier worked in the biopharmaceutical field, where she held senior management positions at Biochem Pharma, Merk and McKesson Canada before making the leap into the world of insurance at SSQ Assurance and Promutuel.

Geneviève Fortier has been a member of several boards of directors of Quebec companies. She is also chair of the board of directors of the Insurance Bureau of Canada – Quebec.

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