Monique Mercier, Executive vice-president, corporate affairs, chief legal officer and corporate secretary, Telus
A lawyer educated at the Université de Montréal faculty of law and Oxford University, where she received an MA in politics and a Commonwealth scholarship, Monique Mercier was the first woman at Montreal law firm Stikeman Elliott to take maternity leave. That was in 1987, and the Telus EVP— the only woman on the telco’s nine-member executive team—is still setting precedents.
Mercier joined Telus in 2008 when the company she was then working for as executive VP of law and human resources, Emergis, was acquired. Telus quickly added business development to her responsibilities and, in late 2011, moved her to Vancouver as its chief legal officer. In that capacity, Mercier won a yearlong court battle with Mason Capital, a New York hedge fund that was attempting to block Telus’s consolidation of two classes of shares; Harvard Business School now teaches it as a case study.
“That was for me a very important achievement,” she says. “It brought so much to Telus in terms of marketability and liquidity of its shares. We had a major expansion of our market capitalization, and also it improved our track record for excellence in corporate governance. Since then we have been trying to influence the evolution of corporate and securities laws to prevent similar things happening to other issuers.”
In March 2013, Mercier led the Telus legal team in another landmark case—this one establishing that wireless providers are not required to give customers’ private text messages to police without wiretap authorization. “We fought that battle up to the Supreme Court of Canada,” says Mercier. “That was applauded everywhere by privacy commissioners and advocates, and I think that really made jurisprudence.”
In addition to her role as chief legal officer, Mercier’s growing portfolio at Telus (she now manages more than 300 people across the country) also includes regulatory affairs; government, social and media relations; sustainability; disaster recovery; privacy compliance; real estate (finishing Telus Garden is a current priority); strategic initiatives like events; and Telus Studios, which produces videos for internal and promotional use.
Her influence can increasingly be seen far beyond the reaches of Canada’s third-largest telco. In late 2014, Mercier was asked by Kellie Leitch, minister of labour and minister responsible for the status of women, to join her advisory group of leaders on women in the economy. She has also served on various boards and foundations, including currently the boards of the Canadian Cancer Research Society and Stornoway Diamond Corporation, and has received numerous awards: Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, Women’s Executive Network Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada (2012, 2013 and 2014), 2013 Lexpert Zenith Award (celebrating women leaders in the legal profession) and the 2013 Western Canada General Counsel Award.
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