Q&A with Stephanie Van Eyk: General Manager, Western Canada
We spoke to the leader of our Vancouver and Calgary teams about why Slalom stood out when she was a client, her passion for creating positive change, and her thoughts on courage.
What attracted you to Slalom?
The short answer is Slalom’s culture. I first got to know Slalom when I was a client working at an online travel startup [now a Fortune 500 company] building a technology organization. Over the six years I worked with Slalom, I was so impressed by the people and culture. The Slalom team was not only incredibly smart and innovative; they stayed laser-focused on the outcomes I needed. Slalom came through time and again with exactly the skills and experience I needed and delivered positive impacts in a collaborative, fun way.
When I later decided to pursue a consulting career with a focus on our local community, Slalom was my top choice. Now, over 11 years later, I’m still incredibly impressed by, and proud of, our people. I get to work alongside leading industry professionals, innovators, and entrepreneurs. They are the best and brightest at what they do and have contagious passion and curiosity.
You were the first General Manager of the Vancouver office in 2020 and recently expanded into Calgary. Tell us more about your approach to growth in Western Canada.
Slalom started our first market in Western Canada in Vancouver because of the region’s vibrant economic landscape. Vancouver is a leading city for green job growth and quality of life. It’s a forward-thinking and global-minded city with a fantastic balance of thriving, innovative businesses and breathtaking natural beauty and active lifestyles.
Calgary ranks in the top 100 emerging and tech start up ecosystems in the world. There’s such an exciting and diverse mix of industries with a focus on sustainability, specifically agribusiness and energy. Finding sustainable solutions for global challenges aligns with Slalom purpose to create better tomorrows for all.
Both Vancouver and Calgary, with their thriving economies and great outdoors at our fingertips, align with Slalom’s vision to 'love your life and work.’ I couldn’t be more excited about making Slalom the top consulting employer for people who love this region and want to build an even brighter future.
You mentioned sustainability aligning with Slalom’s purpose. Tell us more about your vision for supporting ESG [environmental, sustainability, governance] initiatives.
I believe true success is measured in environmental and social terms, not just financial results. Helping our clients dream bigger and progress their ESG initiatives creates a better future for our communities and our team members. Although our focus is deeply rooted in Western Canada, we’re part of Slalom’s global force helping communities drive positive economic, social, and environmental change.
To avert the worst impacts of climate change, the Canadian government is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. This goal requires support and engagement from all Canadians, including provinces and territories, cities, indigenous peoples, Slalom, and our clients. We support this goal and creating sustainable solutions for ourselves, our clients, and our communities.
I acknowledge that Slalom is on the traditional territories of the Indigenous Peoples. We are committed to building a better world, and that includes becoming one of the leading professional services partners for ESG and indigenous community-related work. One example is helping companies create ESG roadmaps with a focus on positive impact, which includes working with indigenous communities.
Although our focus is deeply rooted in Western Canada, we’re part of Slalom’s global force helping communities drive economic, social, and environmental positive change.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Early on in my career, a fantastic mentor told me, “What got us here won’t get us there.” I challenge myself to think differently and introduce change, especially when it seems like we’re at our best. This stuck with me and aligns to who we are as a modern consulting company. It’s critical for us to evolve to our people’s and clients’ needs as they change, and to keep our work and perspectives driving for the best outcomes. As individuals, teams, and markets, we have a learner’s mindset, are always evolving to dream bigger and move faster, and are constantly striving to build a better future with our people and clients. As individuals, teams, and markets, we dream bigger, move faster, and are constantly striving to build a better future with our people and clients.
What do you look for in new hires?
I look for people who are not afraid to be their authentic selves at work, who are collaborative and passionate about doing what is right, and who embrace a learner’s mindset. I look for people who cultivate team excellence across differences and empower innovation. I’m looking for people who are highly adaptive and curious, because our clients’ and communities’ needs evolve quickly. I look for people drawn to building an exciting career with Slalom.
I also consider our existing team and how someone new will help make us stronger through diversity and a new perspective, and foster our inclusive culture. In terms of skills and experience, I’m looking for people with expertise in strategy, technology, and transformation.
What does it take to build a diverse and inclusive team? How are you approaching this?
It’s important to start by attracting diverse candidates. We engage with community organizations and local universities. We seek to attract and retain a team with diverse backgrounds and experience. Gender diversity is also important. We participate in several women’s business and technology events to connect and explore topics people care about. I’ve heard from women in Western Canada that if there are no women in leadership at a company, and few females on the team, they won’t apply for a job there. Being a woman in technology leadership roles for 20-plus years, often the only female in the room, this is something I’m passionate about.
In addition to bringing people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to the team, we strive to create an environment where people feel welcome and bring their whole, authentic selves—their best selves—to work every day. I want to build teams that are diverse and inclusive, because it allows every person the opportunity to love their life and work, in addition to driving great results for all.
What do you love about leading?
I love empowering others, helping them find the greatness in the themselves, and building confidence and trust in my team, because it inspires people to do their best work and take risks. Trust is foundational. Trust unlocks people’s potential and gives them permission to be messy. Innovation comes out of the chaos, not when someone is afraid of failure. Fear of failure hampers what people are capable of.
What role has courage played in your life?
I love the Anais Nin quote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” I really believe that. I’m proud of being courageous in my career. For example, being a female executive in historically male-dominated industries, standing up for what I knew was the right thing to do, and moving to Canada to lead our markets in Western Canada.
Outside of work, I love challenging myself through fitness, including competing in triathlons since 2004. I enjoy the discipline and pushing myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. One thing that tested my courage was an open water swim from Alcatraz into the San Francisco Bay, with a small group of swimmers. It was a benefit for an organization dedicated to curing and preventing blindness and visual impairment. The swim from Alcatraz is infamous for frigid water, poor visibility, strong currents, and the presence of sharks. Thinking about the potential breakthroughs in research this fundraiser could support for people losing their vision, including other swimmers that morning, gave me the courage I needed that day.