Dorazio
Credit: Adam Blasberg

The former pro snowboarder–turned–investment executive tries to stay active on the streets and the slopes

Despite her busy schedule, Catherine Dorazio has made a conscious effort to ensure that her kids know the value of getting outside. So even though an old knee injury keeps the onetime professional snowboarder from shredding powder, she’s turned to skiing during the winter and running with a stroller all year.

The managing director, business development, at Vancouver-based Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital admits that the latter activity, which sees her push her one-year-old along the seawall (sometimes with her five-year-old in tow) is more about getting fresh air than anything else.

“I’m not running marathons; this is a weekend routine of getting outdoors with my kids,” Dorazio says of her excursions to Dundarave Park in West Vancouver. “It can be a run, or it’s just both kids and a coffee in hand and a stroll, taking advantage of our seawall, spending time with them. Building in a place for exercise has always been a part of my routine—it’s a release for stress, and you also get the benefit of spending some time with them outdoors.”

Skiing is also something she can do with the kids, even if it’s tempting for 43-year-old Dorazio to rip downhill like she did in her youth. The former freestyle snowboarder, who grew up in Victoria, represented Canada at World Cup and other international events in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“Our kids are in ski lessons because it’s something we can do with them. We do it on weekends, leave the city behind,” Dorazio says, adding that she has to be careful not to overdo it on the hill. “But I’m naturally more extreme at it than others, and I have other things to think about than throwing myself down a mountain,” she adds, laughing.

Dorazio admits that she misses the competitive element that came with being a pro athlete. But she’s been able to harness it in her current career by climbing up the ranks of one of Vancouver’s most prestigious investment firms.

“What snowboarding taught me was an ability to dedicate to and focus on something and achieve results,” she explains. “Because I had more formal schooling than some people that were in the snowboard setting, that was a little more easily translatable for me,” she says of leveraging a BComm from UVic, plus an MBA from Boston College, after hanging up her board.

“But with that confidence that snowboarding gave me, ultimately it was a career in itself and had very strategic decisions and setbacks,” Dorazio notes. “That really did eventually translate into some initial success and the way I navigated my early career in finance.”

She also acknowledges that she got into snowboarding at the right time, before it had really established itself on the world stage. “It was a time at the infancy of the sport that I was fortunate to be able to participate in and get to the level that I was with a real core group of people in North America, all together at the same time and place in the sport,” she recalls.

“It wouldn’t be available in the way it was then today in any capacity,” Dorazio adds. “Whether it’s the maturity of the sport, the way you get into it is much more formalized. Being an Olympic sport, the types of coaching and training those Canadian teams do, that didn’t exist back then.”

And these days, she’d probably argue that her fitness regimen is almost as tough as it used to be. “I want to be honest—it’s a big accomplishment just to get outside with your children at the ages I have right now,” Dorazio says. “Sometimes I’m carrying everyone up a hill and pushing an empty stroller at the same time.”

Warrior spotlight

Catherine Dorazio started her career in the financial industry in 2003 before becoming the first–and still only–female partner at Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital. The Vancouver-based outfit is an offshoot of $76-billion Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group, an independent money manager headquartered in Toronto.

CC&L began as a Vancouver investment house founded in 1982 by Larry Lunn, who now serves as chair. Dorazio, whose firm just topped $9 billion in client assets, has a clear objective for this year. “Our goal is $10 billion in 2020, which we’re on stride to make,” she says. “I always want to come back to client success. We do one thing, investment management, and ultimately to grow a business, you have to do it well.”