The very name of the Canadian Securities Transition Office (CSTO) implies change, and indeed the organization was established in 2009 by the federal government of Canada to move the country away from its current system of provincial and territorial securities regulators, replacing it with a single Canadian capital-markets regulator that can better respond to changes and competition at the international level. Patricia Callon was hired as chief legal officer and director of stakeholder outreach and communications to help lead the office to success, and her own lengthy experience with change has positioned her as an adaptable member of the team.
The CSTO comprises two offices in Toronto and Vancouver that together employ less than 20 people. This small but mighty group has made tremendous strides in the past four years, including developing a transition plan in 2010; helping to develop a legal and administrative framework for a new Canadian securities regulatory authority; and working with the provincial governments of British Columbia and Ontario and the federal government of Canada to sign an agreement in principle in 2013.
“Very early on during my work at the [Ontario Securities Commission], as I came to understand how regulatory policy is made in Canada, I decided that if there were ever an initiative to establish a national securities regulator, I wanted to be involved in it,” Callon says.
Coordinating and reaching an agreement among various Canadian governments continues to take a patient and keen legal eye, though, because the larger jurisdictions all still have their own securities commissions with their own governance structures, strategic plans, and priorities.
Facts & Figures
Year the CSTO was established
Number of offices the organization has
Number of employees at CSTO
Years of legal and governance experience under Patricia Callon’s belt
Positions she has held during her career, not including board work
“The Canadian Securities Administrators is a body that does focus on harmonization, but the idea in the cooperative capital markets regime is to have a single regulator with a single expert board of directors accountable to all of the participating jurisdictions—and a strategic plan and priorities that apply throughout those jurisdictions,” Callon says. “Nothing quite like this has been done before, so it raises some very interesting legal issues.”
In addition to her legal role, Callon, as director of stakeholder outreach and communications, has built support for the project among a wide range of interested parties such as market participants and investor advocates. She led the team that designed the CSTO’s public site, and she has established a number of advisory committees and coordinated outreach and consultation.
Up until this past year, Callon had also sat on Toronto Hydro Corporation’s board for eight years as chair of the compensation committee. And while working previously as a vice president in the legal department at CIBC, Callon also served on the boards of the bank’s wealth management subsidiaries.
“I have been on the other side of the table as an advisor to boards as well,” Callon says. “Those are very different perspectives, but it’s helpful for me to have both of them as we consider the governance issues that arise in the establishment of a new organization.”
Callon grew up as the youngest of eight children in the house of a Supreme Court judge. Her father instilled strength and determination early on in his seven daughters, subtly empowering them to be strong, independent women focused on their careers.
“I was articling and practicing law while he was on the bench, and that was a nice thing for us,” Callon says. “I had a very different practice from his, but still there were enough commonalities that he was certainly able to provide me with support.”
This past December, the Financial Post named Callon as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Her 24 years practicing law, both in-house and in private practice, have left her with a nearly unsurpassed level of formal legal and governance training, and she’s now applying it to her work at the CSTO.
“For me, one of the constants in my career has been change,” Callon says. “This is my sixth role, plus the board work. I like change, and I like taking myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t know what the next role that I take on will be, but I suspect it will involve some new challenge for me professionally because that’s what I like to do—constantly learn and take on new issues and new responsibilities.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Chief legal officer & director of stakeholder outreach and communications
Financial services, government
Years in the business
Where did you start your career?
Right out of law school from the University of Western Ontario.
Describe yourself in three words
Disciplined, inquisitive, courageous.
Advice to those just starting in finance
Get involved and take risks. By getting involved, I mean be the person who volunteers to take on extra responsibilities either at work or in your community.