Welcome to the latest installment of Q&A, our regular series of one-to-ones with some of Greater Vancouver's leading business figures.
Our subject this week is Jennifer Cudlipp, Senior Vice President at LifeLabs in British Columbia. Jennifer is also the President of Excelleris Technologies.
What inspires you?
I am endlessly inspired by my family and friends and I am lucky to live very close to my extended family. I love to watch my children interact with their cousins and grandparents, and feel lucky to have such a close-knit family. As my children continue to grow up in this environment, I am inspired by their hunger for knowledge and their endless curiosity.
What's your earliest memory?
My earliest memories take place around the dinner table with my family, where we would sit and connect to discuss our days. These family dinners helped to create the strong bond that we still enjoy today, although, with COVID-19, we spend more time checking in virtually or over the phone. I am proud that this tradition of staying connected through conversation has continued on through my husband and children as we all take the time to sit and talk with each other at the end of every day.
How do you relax?
Even on the busiest days, I make sure to schedule time for myself to take a break. These days, I relax by taking a walk outside, playing a game with my boys, or reading a chapter in my book.
How do you balance work and maintaining a personal life?
Managing a work/life balance can be difficult, especially as COVID-19 has brought many changes into our world including online learning and working from home. For me, I find that having an organized schedule as well as a support system in place makes it possible to find that balance. Also, with the help of my team at work, I am able to prioritize the day for maximum productivity by setting clear goals and deadlines, and recognizing that we work in a dynamic environment, and each day might look a bit different. My children are good at reminding me when it's time to switch into my personal mode and take a break.
What's your most prized possession, and why?
My most prized possessions are my family photos and the memories that I have built over the years with my loved ones. While most photo albums are digital now, I like to print pictures to create albums for my children and parents to enjoy.
What keeps you up at night?
Like most people these days, I tend to worry about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, I feel very fortunate to have a role in the health care industry. The pandemic has led to a tremendous period of disruption and change in health care and I really feel that we are at a crossroads of technology and science that is allowing us to move into the next level of capability.
Who do you most admire and why?
I admire my parents for what they have built for our family and the work ethic that they instilled in me at a young age. Their strength and discipline have been a guiding light throughout my career.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced in your career?
I have faced some very difficult business challenges throughout my career, but for me, one of my personal challenges was changing careers. Throughout university, I had focused on a career in finance and spent my professional effort and development working towards becoming a CFO. Once I achieved that goal, my next step was working towards a CFO position in a larger organization. When considering some completely different roles such as strategy and human resources or technology, the fear of the unknown was challenging at first, but ultimately has been very rewarding and proven to be a great decision. I have not looked back, and now look at opportunities and change very differently.
What do you like most about doing business in Greater Vancouver?
I have often found that Greater Vancouver has a very strong sense of community. I have made incredible connections over the past several years and I look forward to making many more into the future.
Where do you see untapped potential in Greater Vancouver?
The outcome of COVID-19 will be the biggest challenge—and opportunity—for how we move forward. I believe that technology will continue to play an important role, influencing creative solutions as we move into a post-pandemic world. I also hope that small businesses that are made in B.C. will continue to grow, succeed and have the potential to scale.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
My family and my children.
What is the most important lesson, business or otherwise, life has taught you?
Life is short and memories are what matter. I choose to surround myself with people I love, respect, and who challenge me to break from my comfort zone. Lately, I have been making a move to practice mindfulness, to allow myself to be fully present and grateful for the life I am living at that moment.
What do you think makes a great leader?
Great leaders are authentic, caring, and clear on the vision for their organization or team. I have always valued leaders who take the time to listen to their employees. In my role, when someone reaches out to talk to me, I make sure to focus on them and validate their thoughts, opinions, or ideas.
Where is your favourite place in Vancouver?
I have always been drawn to the outdoors in Vancouver and I appreciate how walkable the city is. If I had to choose one favourite place, it would be the Seawall in Stanley Park. I enjoy how accessible the park is and love to take long walks next to the water, surrounded by the beautiful views of the city. It is such a unique space and I always enjoy my time there.
What do you think Greater Vancouver needs more of?
I believe we need to find more opportunities to scale and improve our economy. This will require training, retraining and continuing to develop talent in Vancouver and BC. I would like to see more of a focus from organizations on how they can work with communities or non-profit organizations to support and meet the needs of British Columbians.
Who has helped you most in your career?
I am privileged to have had very strong mentors in my life who have challenged me to stretch my thinking and who have provided constructive feedback and encouragement. I have always valued my team at work and I've had such a fantastic experience with those who fully embraced my journey and unquestionably supported me each step of the way.
What do you do when you aren't working?
Pre-pandemic, I could be found at a hockey rink, baseball field or spending time with friends and family. I also spend a lot of time volunteering and serving on boards. I think it is so important to give back and support local organizations to have an impact and advocate for underprivileged groups.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I am someone who can take feedback very well and use it to facilitate purposeful change. This comes from practice and working with a coach to stretch my thinking and a desire to continuously improve and grow as a leader and a person.
LifeLabs is a Canadian-owned company that has been serving the healthcare needs of Canadians for more than 50 years. Their services are used by more than a million Canadians through LifeLabs, LifeLabs Genetics, Rocky Mountain Analytical, and Excelleris.