Defend the Doctor, Protect the Patient

Josée Mondoux, director of investments at the CMPA, stewards a solid revenue stream for the association, ensuring patients are appropriately compensated in cases of negligence while enabling physicians to practice safely and confidently

Mondoux presents on hedge funds at the Pension Investment Association of Canada conference in Moncton, NB. Photo by Daniel St. Louis

In the high-stakes moments of rapid decision-making, when a premature baby is being born, physicians need to devote 100 percent of their attention to the patient’s care and well-being—not on strategizing how to protect themselves from their decisions. That’s the job of the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), which exists to liberate the focus of physicians from working defensively to facilitating confident, quality health care.

Today, the CMPA protects 95 percent of all Canadian physicians, so the investment decisions it makes to provide that protection are of utmost importance.

Josée Mondoux joined the CMPA in 2000, as the first employee on its investment team. Although she left for a brief period to take over the strategic investments component of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation pension plan, she returned in 2008 and ascended to the role of director of investments in 2012. Since then, she has helped to grow the team from a small upstart to its current team of 14, with 3 units reporting to her. Ultimately, she is responsible for ensuring sustainable investment decisions and approaches are made for the organization.

A proven leader, Mondoux believes in freedom, autonomy, and acting as the support for solid decision-making and empowered, rapid action. Her robust finance education is bolstered by her leadership education from a Harvard University program. And, as one of the few women in commerce education at the University of Ottawa who also obtained a CFA designation, Mondoux has experienced the creative power that comes from a diverse perspective.

She also obtained her CAIA designation in 2011 and facilitated the CMPA’s early adoption of alternative investment sources. She sees investment decisions and practices changing to favour nontraditional investment sources, with currently half of the CMPA’s portfolios in nontraditional assets—privately held assets, absolute return strategies, and emerging market allocations. “From the late 1980s to mid-2000s, equities and bonds were both good places to invest, so you couldn’t get things wrong that much,” Mondoux says. “Return-wise, we were doing well. In more recent times, it’s not the same. Bond yields are low—negative in some areas—so it’s getting harder and harder to reach targets.” Mondoux sees the alternative investment space as one that is set to grow, leaving behind those who are reluctant to adapt.

One of the keys to Mondoux’s success may be her commitment to transparency. In the past, particularly in a risk-averse finance field, errors were kept quiet and unquestioned. “I don’t try to hide the bad stuff, but I use a learning approach to examining errors,” Mondoux says. “Errors happen, and success comes from being able to dissect our work.” As an organization, the CMPA values greater transparency, for the sake of medical-care safety. “Our CEO places great focus on safer care,” Mondoux says. “We’ve created a new department, with some new hires, in order to achieve a greater contribution to making the Canadian health-care system safer, so there is a lot of energy and excitement around here.”

While the CMPA works to protect doctors, it is a mutual defence organization, not an insurer. The emphasis is on mutuality across the physician spectrum. When there is patient negligence, for instance, it impacts the entire system of doctors. “We settle cases of negligence and appropriately compensate patients injured by negligent care, but we also defend the defensible,” Mondoux says. The CMPA is there to protect physicians’ professional integrity and good practice, and to compensate patients appropriately for any negligent care.

That mission is reinforced by Mondoux’s role, which involves high impact, visibility, and an emphasis on growing both personally and professionally. “In my line of work, we are bombarded with information,” she says, “so, out of necessity, I have had to become more efficient through organization and prioritization.” As a wife and a mother to a 13-year-old competitive figure skater, Mondoux knows the importance of work-life balance. She learned the importance of prioritization from other professionals in her family and friend circle. “I don’t want to have regrets at the end of my life,” she says. “I know I won’t regret not making that extra meeting at work. I’m very disciplined, organized, and focused. I make the most efficient use of my time to enjoy my life now, not in the future.”

Doing so has had a tremendous impact on her professional life, and the CMPA continues to grow as a result.