Vanessa Kanu, senior vice-president of finance, Mitel

2017 Forty Under 40 recipient
Vanessa Kanu

Age: 39

Company: Mitel provides business communications solutions to enterprises around the world.  

Education: Bachelor of science degree in international and financial economics, Hull University (1998)

Charitable involvement: Network of Black Business & Professional Women

Biggest biz achievement: That's a hard question, because I don't feel like I've reached my biggest achievement quite yet. That said, I have been quite pleased with my experiences at Mitel. From being involved in the firm’s IPO many years ago, to M&A transactions since then, to many other projects in between, I have learned a lot and grown professionally.

Biggest obstacle: Earlier in my career, I often had to challenge many of the more experienced managers in the business. Some of them assumed that because I was new in my role or young, I couldn't possibly have enough knowledge to challenge them. This was difficult at first, but you get through it, you prove yourself and it eventually made me better at what I do.  

Biggest influence: Without a doubt, my mother. As a busy university professor, she showed me what the model of a working mother looks like, and she did it with grace and ease. I couldn't have asked for a better role model.

First job: Flipping burgers at McDonald’s

Advice I’d give the younger me: Relax, it will be OK. I'd say that to my present me too!

Favourite pastime: Family movie night with our two girls.

Favourite song: Anything by Bob Marley

Favourite local pro sports team: Ottawa Senators

Favourite local summer event: Canada Day

Preferred social media platform: LinkedIn