Sarah Lyons, partner, MNP LLP

2017 Forty Under 40 recipient
Sarah Lyons

Age: 32

Birthplace: Ottawa

Company: We offer accounting and business advisory services.

Education: Master of applied science in electrical engineering, University of Toronto (2009); bachelor of science in engineering, mathematics and engineering, Queen’s University (2007)
Charitable involvement: Institute of Internal Auditors

Biggest biz achievement: Building and growing an outstanding team at A Hundred Answers with my partners. We received an Employee’s Choice Award and were named a Profit 500 company, and most importantly, I believe I left each of my clients’ projects with a success story and a strong reference. That’s what means the most to me. We merged with MNP in 2016 based on a common client-centred approach and commitment to value for our customers.  

Biggest obstacle: This past year was full of challenges and yet the best year of my life. I had the excitement and joy of having my first child while also facing several new challenges. The experience was demanding, though also very rewarding. A more specific obstacle that comes to mind professionally has been overcoming people’s perceptions of what someone who looks young can do and handle. My age (or younger appearance) came up many times over my career as a reason I shouldn’t be taking on a new challenge or role. While first impressions were tough, nothing beats results, so it generally just took a bit more time to demonstrate my capability.  

Biggest influence: My parents. Being a parent myself now, I am grateful for my parents in whole new ways! My father was an entrepreneur and engineer, and I followed in his footsteps when I started my career. I’ve learned a lot from him, including the importance of hard work and focus. My mother is a master at balancing many different tasks seamlessly. She’s also professional and empathetic, while being exceptionally strong and driven. They let me make my own mistakes and demonstrated that no moment, or set of moments, defines you. No matter what has happened in the past, you can always move forward.

Biggest lesson learned: What has made you successful so far won’t necessarily make you successful in the future. Listening, learning and adapting is key. Listening to my teams, my clients and my colleagues is essential for me – it’s how I learn how to adapt, and it’s what makes the journey fun.  

First job: Babysitter, soccer referee and hostess at Boston Pizza

Advice I’d give the younger me: It’s okay to fail.  

What’s left to do: So much! I try to do as much as I can each day, personally and professionally, and take things on a day-by-day basis since the future isn’t certain. That said, I really hope to see my daughter grow up, I love to travel and want to see as much of the world as I can, and I hope to take on many new adventures with my husband Mo. Professionally, I’m driven to continue innovating and growing our consulting practice through new services that help our clients succeed.

Favourite pastime: Getting out for walks and hikes with my family and our dog Winnie. I also love skiing, travelling and spending time with family and friends.  

I’m currently reading: The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey

Favourite movie: This is a joke with my friends and colleagues. I don’t think I’ve gone to a movie in a theatre since high school. I know I’ve enjoyed movies, but I can’t say I have a good memory of them! I’ve watched and enjoyed Scarface, Pulp Fiction, Ocean’s Eleven and Bridesmaids, as a few that come to mind.  

Favourite song: I like different songs at different times and many different types of music. It’ll always depend on the setting!

Favourite local pro sports team: Ottawa Senators

Favourite local summer event: Ottawa Bluesfest

Preferred social media platform: LinkedIn