Susanne Robertson wins the 2016 PSFM Financial Leadership (CFO) award

The winner of the 2016 Award of Excellence in Public Sector Financial Management – Financial Leadership (CFO) played a vital role in establishing Canada’s newest national museum.

Susanne Robertson was involved in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) from the ground floor. In fact, she was involved before there was a ground floor!

Ms. Robertson served as the CFO of the Friends of the CMHR during the initial fundraising and planning efforts. When the CMHR was established by an act of parliament in 2008, Ms. Robertson’s appointment as CFO made her the museum’s very first employee.

In the ensuing years, she played a major role in the museum becoming a reality. She is credited with achieving funding certainty for the capital project and then overseeing the $351-million capital building budget. Her legacy at the museum includes development of accounting and internal controls systems that provide effective financial management of the facility, and establishing budgeting and forecasting processes that ensured strategic resource management during the start-up years. She also developed teams in the areas of finance, IT, facilities and purchasing and established salary scales and benefit and pension plans in conjunction with the human resources team.

John Young, president and CEO, says, “Susanne has consistently delivered relevant, reliable, timely financial information, professional advice and oversight. She has consistently met deadlines despite heavy workloads and competing priorities. Her detailed knowledge of the building, its history, decisions made and future considerations is vital.”

Gail Stephens, Chief Operating Officer adds, “Susanne demonstrated sound judgment through her involvement in all aspects of the development of the team. She demonstrated flexible and innovative thinking as the organization grew. This is normal for a start-up organization but it takes a certain type of person to lead in this environment and Susanne has the qualities to do so.”

Susanne’s team demonstrated some of the highest employee engagement in the organization in a recent employee survey.

After less than three years in operation, CMHR now has 200 employees (160 full-time) and over 200 volunteers. It has won 27 local, national and international awards for digital media, design accessibility, interactive exhibits, engineering and more. It was also named one of the top five “coolest new attractions in the world” by New York’s Travel and Leisure Guide.

Young maintains Robertson has played a major role in the development of all aspects of the CMHR and there is no doubt the museum is in a much better place financially because of the care and due diligence that Susanne exhibits on a day-to-day basis.