Female leaders in accounting: Doreen Malone

CPA Doreen Malone shares her career path as a leader in the accounting field.

  • Title: General Manager
  • Number of company employees: Neptune Theatre
  • University: 1983, Bachelor of Commerce, Saint Mary's University
  • Designation year: 1985

In 1987, two years after writing the UFE at Grant Thornton in Halifax, Doreen Malone quit the firm and blew off to England to work and play for six months. “That was a risk,” she admits from her office at Neptune Theatre in Nova Scotia’s capital. Now, as general manager, she co-leads that nearly 50-year-old establishment. “I share leadership responsibilities with the artistic director and we report to an 18-member volunteer board of directors.”

Malone was part of a new senior management team hired in 1999 to resuscitate the New Neptune project, which was suffering from major reconstructive surgery. The new 45,000-square-foot facility included, among other features, a studio theatre and theatre school, but its internal energy was waning. Time for a leadership update.

Today, the east coast landmark is notorious for presentations that pack the house.

Malone is directly responsible for leadership and management of all administrative and business aspects including strategic planning, board governance functions, HR, financial management, marketing, fundraising, public and government relations, technology; and implementation of programs, systems and policies. She manages a $5-million operating budget and a full-time staff of 30 and up to 120 part-time employees.

She does have a couple of personal assistants: her trusty BlackBerry and her long-time partner at home. “He listens with infinite patience,” she says. “Sometimes, when I’ve finished my story, the problem doesn’t seem so big.”

Malone says her leadership path began to “evolve” in school, then through volunteer activities, teaching at university, and chairing union negotiations. “It just seems to me, if you want to make a difference in life, you need to step up to the plate whenever an opportunity presents itself. It’s surprising how willing other people will be to let you take on the role if you show initiative. I grew up on a farm,” she adds, “and my parents impressed upon us that if you want something to happen, you can’t always wait for it.”

Courses, including Executive Women at Boston’s Harvard University and Building Personal Leadership Capacity at The Banff Centre in Alberta were also valuable tools for her evolvement.

What would she change along the road to top spot? “I would work smart versus work hard. I would have spent more time figuring out what needed to be done, and then share that work rather than trying to accomplish so much myself. And, I would have been a little less naive in believing that good work itself was sufficient promotion. Instead, I needed to promote myself. These days, she has that covered -- community involvement, theatre spokesperson, marketing, media exposure. “Nationally, I’m involved in theatre advocacy work, and go to conferences.”

As a volunteer, she is on the Board of Directors of Credit Union Atlantic, and is a past member of several committees and boards.

Malone offers some insight into advancing up the leadership ladder. “In a leadership role, you become acutely aware of what you are good at naturally, what you can learn, and where you will probably never be proficient. You have to sort out where you fit, change what you can, and just accept the rest.”

Resume:

  • 1983 — 1987: Grant Thornton, Nova Scotia
  • 1987: District Audit Service of England and Wales
  • 1987 — 1993: Grant Thornton, Nova Scotia
  • 1993 — 1999: Confederation Centre of the Arts
  • 1999 — present: Neptune Theatre

Update 2013:

Title: 2013 — Financial Planner

Organization: 2013 — Assante Capital Management Ltd., Halifax

In 2010, Malone left the Neptune Theatre to join Assante Capital Management Ltd. in Halifax as a financial planner. She has undertaken two new leadership roles on two boards of directors: as the treasurer of Shelter Nova Scotia, an organization devoted to solving homelessness, and as an independent director on FORCE, Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy, Canada’s leading test centre for instream tidal technology, which endeavours to harness the tides in the Bay of Fundy to create electricity.

“The renewable energy industry is one of the most exciting and innovative industries to be involved with now,” she says. In November 2012, she earned her CFP designation.