Sticking to the basics

André Courville, FCPA, FCA, chair of the board, Uni-Select Canada, talks about the elements of strong leadership and offers advice to young CPAs.

Q: What are Uni-Select’s leadership priorities?

We want to show leadership not only in the automotive parts distribution industry, but also to our 3,000 employees in our Canadian and US divisions, Uni-Select Canada and Finish Master. We therefore have a team of professionals who are dedicated to talent development.

Q: Based on your 37 years of experience at EY Canada and your current position, what do you think are the key elements of strong leadership?

Over the years, the basic principles have remained the same: ensure the business’s long-term survival, know the stakeholders and fully understand the company’s culture and strategic vision. However, the speed of information and the impact of social media can sometimes complicate things. In this context, to me, being a leader means making your mark and being recognized as someone who helped the company reach a certain stage in its development.

Q: You are also the chair of the Institute of Corporate Directors— Quebec Chapter. Does this influence your work at Uni-Select?

I am in constant contact with directors, and we talk about good governance, director evaluation methods and CEO renewal processes, among other things. I recently hosted a roundtable that brought together 15 board chairs, and it was very enlightening for everyone involved.

Q: What advice would you give young CPAs who would like to achieve your level of professional success?

I would tell young CPAs to get involved in their communities, by sitting on the boards of not-for-profit organizations, for example. The first years in the profession focus on the technical side, such as learning audit principles. But to progress in their career, they also need to build networks that will last throughout their professional life. Then, when a position becomes available, people will think of them because of their competencies.

André Courville has been chair of Uni-Select’s board of directors since April 2016. Courville, who retired from EY Canada in 2014, is also chair of the Institute of Corporate Directors — Quebec Chapter, and holds the institute’s ICD.D designation. He obtained his CA designation in 1979 and his FCA designation (now FCPA) in 2007.