Advantage: You didn’t start out in finance. How did you make the transition into the industry?
Steven Nevard: I studied electrical engineering at Queen’s University, after which I worked for a distribution utility in Ontario as an engineer. Through that, I was exposed to business improvement initiatives, and I decided an MBA would be the right thing to do. I started it part-time but [soon] realized how valuable it would be, so I switched to the full-time program at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
What lessons did you take from that experience?
I got exposed to the bigger picture and learned how to manage a business, in part by participating in a student-run teaching program called LEADER. Set up around the fall of communism, the student-run program sent students to the former Soviet republics to teach business. The first year, I taught executives in Kazakhstan; the second year, I taught undergraduates in Russia.
How did you end up in finance after that?
Before my final year in the MBA program, I worked in corporate development, where I was exposed to a combination of business analysis and finance. It showed me I wanted to go into finance, so when I finished my MBA, I went to work in investment banking. I worked in the industry for 10 years, at different shops, mainly with the same partners.
What led you out of investment banking?
When my wife and I had our first son, we decided we wanted a different life. I decided to step out of investment banking, and her being from the West Coast, we decided to move to Vancouver. I wanted to do something that felt good, like build a company, so I spent a few years consulting—strategic planning, mergers-and-acquisitions advisory, that sort of thing—while looking for a new opportunity.
Receives BS in electrical engineering from Queen’s University; begins working for Hydro Mississauga as a project engineer and department supervisor
Begins work as a financial analyst for Call-Net Enterprises
Earns MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario; starts career in investment banking at Harris Partners Limited
Transitions into strategic consulting
And that’s how you were introduced to Triton?
Yes. As a consultant, I led its five-year strategic planning process over a course of two months. At the end, I was invited to join the team.
What made you want to make such a significant career change?
I was never the typical investment banker. I’d been an engineer. I wanted to build things. Over the years, it just became clear that finance was about transactions—raise the money, buy the company, move on. My nature is to stay involved, make a meaningful difference.
What did Triton, in and of itself, have going for it?
I was looking for an industry with strong growth potential and a company with a strong management team. Having gone through the strategic planning process with the company, I knew Triton had both. I also wanted a company I could be proud of, and an environmental consultancy really offers that. We work to help companies responsibly develop their projects.
How does your current role connect to what you’ve done in the past?
The first thing I did when I came in is strengthen the financial planning and reporting side of the business. Most small companies have accounting functions but don’t have the modelling and analysis skills I brought. I worked with the management team to understand the need to understand business drivers, properly plan budgets, and turn that information into reports so that people could have greater visibility of the business.
What do you like most about the job?
It’s practical. You can analyze a business from the outside and make judgments in terms of what’s good and bad and what direction you might take. But this job is very hands-on. It provides the opportunity to execute on the strategic direction.
Any words of wisdom for facing those challenges?
I’ve always been a team player and believe tremendous value can be generated from teamwork. A key component of teamwork is having team members who can teach others. Going to Eastern Europe to teach really solidified that for me, and teaching can empower people to understand the context of the decisions they’re being asked to make, and that leads them to make better decisions. I’ve taken that to heart, and whether I’m working with partners, peers, or juniors, I try to help them understand the why.