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Ivey faculty: Kanina Blanchard

  • Communications
  • |
  • Sep 25, 2019
Ivey faculty: Kanina Blanchard

Kanina Blanchard, Lecturer, Communications

Ivey is proud to welcome six faculty members and one full-time appointment to campus! To help you get to know our faculty, we asked each of them a list of questions about their academic – and personal – interests.

Get to know:
Kanina Blanchard, Lecturer, Communications

Kanina has been successfully teaching at Ivey in a part-time role since 2016. Prior to that, she was a mentor, guest lecturer, and Executive-in-Residence with the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership.

Kanina was recently appointed as a full-time lecturer in Management Communications at Ivey.

  1. What is the most important thing business executives can learn from your research/area of expertise?

My two areas of focus are Women in Leadership and Responsible Leadership. I believe that we are indeed drawn to research the things we care about most. After 30 years of being in leadership positions globally – in business, manufacturing, government, not-for-profit, and consulting – I am both heartened and alarmed by what has changed, and what hasn't. There are indeed things that are improving in my opinion, but at the same time I feel we are sliding dangerously backward in some key areas.

I am currently intensely engaged in completing my PhD called: Is Responsible Leadership Possible? I am working with leaders in academia, business, and education to understand their experience trying to make responsible decisions. Specifically, I explore how they navigate weighing conventional expectations like productivity, profit, cost savings, etc. with the needs and expectations of a broader array of stakeholders. My hope is that their rich stories and reflections can inform others who are interested in change. I also am working with colleagues at Ivey in developing a framework for Executive Presence and Leadership Communication. 

  1. Where did you grow up and what was it like there?

I grew up in Ottawa, but I spent a great deal of time in India. My adopted parents were first generation immigrants. I actually spoke Bengali before I spoke English.

  1. Who have been your strongest influences in life?

I would say travelling extensively, and more importantly, actually living and working in various parts of the world including here in Canada, in both Michigan and Texas, Hong Kong, Europe, and Switzerland has profoundly influenced my worldview. I've thrashed rice in villages in India and have been treated like royalty in Dubai. I've learned to make cow-dung patties and had the opportunity to engage with members of the European Union on Climate Change. Each experience has been rich and has helped me learn about diversity and the responsibility we have to one another and to life on this planet.

I also have been very fortunate to have had incredible opportunities to meet and work with amazing people who have given of themselves to help me learn and grow. In every phase of my career, I can name individuals who shared themselves, their experiences and wisdom, and demonstrated their willingness to be vulnerable and help others succeed.

  1. What led you to your career?

My first degree was in journalism where I did my thesis on science writing in Canada and was involved in researching an investigative expose on then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney ("Politics of Ambition"). I did some work in print, radio, and television, but I loved joining The Dow Chemical Company where hard work and initiative really made a difference.

I shifted from Communications into the world of the web in the mid 1990s and was part of the Conference Board. I pivoted into government affairs, public policy, and ultimately into global issues management. I spent many years in the hydrocarbons and energy space and was on-point for crisis management for many years. After deciding to make London, Ontario home for family reasons, I spent time in leadership positions at the Ministry of the Environment related to environmental remediation and human health issues. From a consulting standpoint, I have worked for many organizations spanning tech to agriculture, and manufacturing to the professional services industry.

My areas of focus in consulting is leadership education and leader development, communication and crisis, and global and cross-cultural management. I have been involved with Ivey's Institute for Leadership since around 2010, and have developed courses, written cases, and guest lectured and mentored since 2012. In 2014, I decided in earnest to shift my career trajectory and completed a Masters in Education. I am currently finishing my PhD in Leadership.

  1. What do you like to do when you’re not working?

If I'm not teaching, working on my PhD, or consulting, I am with family and friends. Those times together laughing, reliving stories, and telling the same bad jokes over and again are my greatest joys. I love being outdoors and am a big pet person. As of right now, we have a very opinionated and vocal basset hound and a cat who hands-down is the boss at home.

  1. What might someone be surprised to know about you? 

I was a semi professional Bharatanatyam performer (classical Indian dance) in my younger years and into my early 20s. I spent most of my time outside school practicing and touring to many parts of Canada and the US.

  1. What is the most played song on your playlist as of now?

Perfect, the duet between Ed Sheeran and Bocelli, and James Taylor's I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain. Then there is a splattering of disco and some hip-hop, which I shouldn't really share!

  1. What book would you recommend to others? Why?

I am a huge fan of Ken Follett and recommend anyone interested in devouring historical fiction to pick up any of his amazing works. I have always found affinity with George Santayana's words, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Thus, I could likely buy a small car for the investment I've made in hard cover and audio books related to history... from analysis of ancient texts to books on ancient civilizations. I've listened to the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich twice and was astounded by Gaddis' The Cold War, and actually just finished Littell's The Company: A Novel of the CIA.

On the business side, I recommend Daniel Yergin's works on energy and world economics, including his Pulitzer Prize winning book,  The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (1991) and The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World (2011). Given the challenges we face in today's world, digging deeper and understanding the role of fossil fuel in business and politics, modern history, the instability of nation states, and globalization is invaluable.