11 October 2019

As part of Women’s History Month, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is presenting snapshots of women in our community and the significant impact they have had in their fields.

The Power of Ambition

Sustainable development and ambition are two themes that guide Pauline D’Amboise’s career and commitment. As a businesswoman, she holds a senior management position in one of Canada’s largest financial institutions.

Pauline D’Amboise grew up in Quebec far from big cities. After college studies, she began her career with the Desjardins Group. First a paralegal, she became head of the corporate secretariat in the 1990s. It was at this time that she began contributing to the Desjardins Magazine on Sustainable Development, Governance and Ethics. Pauline D’Amboise became General Secretary of the Desjardins Group in 2000.

In 2003, she took on an ambitious new challenge: oversight of sustainable development practices within the company. Working with the few resources available, she persevered toward shifting attitudes in order to position sustainable development as a serious issue. “In my position, I could not impose anything: I had to convince the main leaders. It was with great perseverance and conviction that I managed to convince them … almost one by one,” she said in an interview with L’Effet A in 2017. Two years later, in 2005, the Desjardins Group adopted a sustainable development policy based on a long-term vision for the environment. Several financial products resulting from this policy were subsequently created to encourage individuals and businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Pauline D’Amboise went on to become Vice President of Governance and Sustainable Development in 2013, a position in which she continues to pursue and promote ambitious environmental programs.

 “The challenge of sustainable development is an intrinsic value for women. When I can talk to women’s groups, I always encourage them to take charge of this issue, because they have a decisive role to play.”  

Pauline D’Amboise’s commitment toward environmental issues and her determination to make a positive difference reaches beyond her job. She is involved with several organizations including the David Suzuki Foundation and the Ambassador's Committee of the Scol’ÈRE Scholarship. Since 2017, she has been a mentor to Scholars with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. Her commitment and policies have earned her a place in Women of Influence magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Women in Canada for Sustainable Development.

“We can’t achieve our ambitions alone; it’s important to develop a network. But the word ‘authentic’ is very important. In my opinion, it is essential to have considerate relationships that go beyond our interests.”

Pauline D’Amboise

For more than 30 years, Pauline D’Amboise has spearheaded initiatives on corporate social responsibility, good governance, and ethics at Desjardins Group, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada. She is now secretary general and vice-president of governance and sustainable development at Desjardins.

2017 Mentors