May 30, 2019

Four questions with John Brussa, Jarislowsky co-fellow and CCAL community member

John Brussa shares his insights during his time as a Jarislowsky fellow

This month John Brussa wraps up his two-year term as a Jarislowsky co-fellow. Before his departure we asked him four important questions.

John Brussa, partner and chairman of Burnet, Duckworth, and Palmer LLP and co-head of their tax practice is wrapping up his two-year term as one of the Jarislowsky co-fellows in the spring of 2019. Below are some insights from his time as a Jarislowsky Fellow and his thoughts moving forward.

1.    What motivated you to participate in the Jarislowsky Fellowship?

I am very motivated to pay it forward and help others based on my own experiences of success. Many people helped me along the way and I am fortunate enough to be in the season of my life where I have some time to help others. There are very few, if any, self-made success stories (including my own) and so I wanted to give my time to students to provide any perspectives I could for their success. I hope that through the panel discussions, Lunch with Leaders, and the art and sport events students were able to get some useful information.

2.    What were some of your key takeaways from your time as a Jarislowsky co-fellow?

This fellowship has given me the opportunity to see the great talent that exists in the next generation of leaders. It left me optimistic about the future of leadership. I learned from both the students and from all the other industry leaders I got to meet through my time at the fellowship. My co-fellow, Catherine Bell, broadened my horizons in thinking about leadership from a different perspective than my own and it was great working with her. I also learned new perspectives from panel members like Peter McCoppin at the Dinner Discussion, and from Dr. Cari Din and Shawnee Harlee at the sport and leadership panel.  The Arts and Leadership event at the Glenbow specifically reminded me that the portrayal of leadership tells us a lot about our society at any given time. These events and interactions got me thinking about my own reality in different ways, including the purpose and accountability of business and business leaders.

3.    What is one piece of advice you have for students as they take on leadership roles?

My advice is to have an open mind and a willing heart. Learn something every day. Try to keep preconceptions at bay because they get in the way of learning. Especially preconceptions about people. I was able to meet many different people through the fellowship and I really enjoyed the interactions and learned a lot from them. My advice to students as they take on leadership roles is to learn from the people around them. I hope that translates well for students.

4.    Do you have any overall comments from your two-year term that you’d like to share?

One of the amazing things about the Jarislowsky Fellowship is the broadening effect it has on both the fellows and the students. I think Catherine and I originally came at the question of what defines leadership from opposite directions. The synthesis of our views, and of those of the speakers we proposed for the various events, had the salutatory effect of pointing out that there is more than one way to be an effective leader, and that it is up to the students to synthesize the various strands into something that makes sense for each of them personally.

From the entire CCAL community, we want to thank John for his wisdom, advice and leadership for the past two years. Thank you!