The WFE's Women Leaders 2022 - Claire Johnson, President and CEO, TSX Trust Company

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2022

Member: TMX Group

Nominee’s name: Claire Johnson

Nominee’s job title: President and CEO, TSX Trust Company

1. - Brief description of nominee’s role/job:

Claire Johnson is the president and chief executive officer of TSX Trust, a wholly owned subsidiary of TMX Group that provides transfer agent, corporate trust, employee equity plans and other corporate services to publicly traded companies and private issuers along with ancillary services to security holders.

As president and CEO, Claire oversees the business's overall strategic direction, promotes its client-centric culture, and executes its growth strategy. Since joining the company in 2018, TSX Trust has doubled its number of clients through both organic growth and acquisitions and increased the number of service offerings to include workflow automation for private transactions, employee equity plans, proxy advisory services and structured financial services. TSX Trust services over 1,800 clients and employs approximately 250 employees.

Claire also serves on TSX Trust’s board of directors.

2. - Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):

Claire is an experienced business leader with more than 25 years of experience in the financial services sector.

Claire joined TSX Trust as president and CEO in 2018 after a 20-year career at CIBC Mellon, a leading Canadian financial-services company exclusively focused on the investment servicing needs of Canadian institutional investors and international institutional investors. At CIBC Mellon, Claire served in increasingly senior roles, including senior vice president - strategy and corporate development, chief financial officer, head of marketing and product, and in an operational role as manager, investment fund accounting.

Claire is a board member of JA Americas, a youth-serving NGO creating pathways for employability and job creation. She is a graduate of Queen’s University and holds a CPA, CA designation.

Claire has five children, aged seven to 18, comprising three boys and two girls. She enjoys watching British murder mysteries, taking daily walks, business reading, negotiating who’s driving who where, and visiting friends and family.

She laughed when she was asked what she enjoys doing in her free time as a follow-up to how many children she has – her children are her free time!

3. - What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2021 (ie why should you be on this list):

2021 was another challenging year for many of our employees and clients as the pandemic continued to disrupt business operations.

Throughout the pandemic, Claire and her management team continued to stay in touch with their teams through newsletters, town halls, education sessions and fun virtual events. Her team focused on supporting employees by providing safe working environments, bringing in meals, arranging transportation, and conducting Covid information sessions for all employees, including specific sessions for staff required to be in the office.

Claire fostered an environment where TSXT employees (and their families) could feel safe at work. The result was that despite the ongoing lockdowns, TSX Trust employees remained client-focused and engaged with an 87% promoter score in our latest employee survey, an increase over prior years.

For clients, we continued to innovate, rolling out a number of products and services, including:

A new virtual AGM platform, offering clients a seamless virtual experience for AGMs and all types of shareholder meetings and events. The solution enabled more companies to safely hold shareholder events amid Covid-related measures and travel restrictions.

TMX dealLINX, an automated non-brokered private placement platform that allows companies to raise capital faster and without the need for in-person meetings or paper documentation while reducing compliance risk and administrative overheads.

A newly integrated website, making it easier for clients and investors to navigate, giving them quick access to information about our issuer and investor services, governance, AGM proxy and ownership services, corporate trust and structured financial services.

In August 2021, TMX Group completed its acquisition of AST Trust (Canada) - another leading transfer agent and corporate trust business focusing on large-cap issuers in Canada.

The acquisition involved:

Onboarding 150 new employees from multiple locations during lockdowns.

Onboarding over 300 new clients.

Incorporating new service offerings, including structured finance and equity plan solutions.

Developing a new website and branding.

The acquisition added dynamic new product and technology capabilities to our business and strengthened our ability to serve clients' evolving needs today and well into the future. TSX Trust now has a market share of 31% of the listed issuers on the TSX and TSX Venture exchange.

4. - What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success:

I have had the good fortune to work with many great leaders who modelled leadership for me. My inspiration started with my family growing up.

My mother is a pharmacist, and my father is a chemist, an MBA, and a lifelong learner. It never seemed like an option not to do my best and do more. I credit them with instilling a strong work ethic in me.

For almost the past 30 years, my inspiration has been my husband. He believes in me, pushes me and occasionally gives me a reality check; he is the balancing force in our very full lives.

Professionally I had a lot of opportunities to learn new things, take on new roles and conquer challenges. But one of the most important lessons I learned was about taking risks from a boss of mine at CIBC Mellon, Tom Monahan. That growth pushed me to believe that much more was possible, but only if you took some risks. That inspired me to change how I approached my career. The use of a personal coach, Valerie Henderson, and a personal advisory board created through the Rotman Judy Project helped me to continue forward and to make lasting changes.

There are also some more obvious, well-known leaders who intrigue me and whose writing I turn to regularly for a shot in the arm - like Ram Charan, Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, Tiziana Casciaro and Roger Martin.

Leadership is in the small things like knowing your team, connecting with them as individuals, asking about their families and things they care about. Leadership is also in the big things like meeting your commitments, being inclusive in evaluating options and decision-making, and having your employees’ backs when things don’t work out as planned.

5. - What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions:

If I had to give one piece of advice to women who aspire to be in leadership positions, it is to raise their hands when there is a new project opportunity. The challenge and the experience will allow you to grow, expand and showcase your capabilities and, importantly, give you confidence. You don’t have to have all of the answers. Really. If you have the questions, you can find the answers.

Ask for help from others around you. Network, ask for advice. Be curious. Seek honest feedback. Pay for services or find ways to share tasks with family or friends to keep your work/life balance in balance.

Find leaders you admire and spend time with them - women and men. Ask them questions about how they make “it” all work. Everyone has a different story or approach, and you’ll need to find what works for you and your situation.

As a woman, you don’t need to give up who you are to be a leader. Instead, you need to learn to feel comfortable with who you want to be. And lastly, you don’t need a title to be a leader. You’re leading and following every day, and you can practice building those skills.


The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.