chatting with...anne giardini

Anne is what people have called a “petite powerhouse.”  A lawyer called to the bars of both Ontario and British Columbia, much of her career has been spent as in-house counsel and, more recently, as a corporate executive.  Since 2008, Anne has been President of Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, a subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser Company, an integrated forest products company with a head office in Federal Way, Washington, and a presence in 13 countries.  She works closely with senior management on both sides of the border on corporate, legal, policy and strategic issues. Anne is active as a volunteer in the community.  She is also an author, journalist, and frequent public speaker on a range of topics, in addition to being a great supporter of YWiB.  We were lucky enough to get inside her busy mind for a quick chat.

name three people you'd like to have a dinner party with. Limiting myself to people who are alive, and people I don't normally have dinner with, I'd chose the writers Malcolm Gladwell, David Mitchell and Hilary Mantel. We would talk about writing, naturally, as well as creativity, the way our minds work, and how to positively affect human behaviours in order to change the world.

as a novelist, do you ever get writer’s block?  how do you push through it? I was a non-fiction writer years ago, but have been a fiction writer since I started to write novels. I do get writer’s block. It is an odd affliction because the cause and the symptom are both the same - not writing.  The cure is to write. You need to write fluently and vigorously, regardless of quality. Over time, the quality and quantity do return.

how do you balance life as the CEO of Weyerhaeuser and a mother? I am fortunate to have healthy, independent children, a healthy independent spouse, and reliable household help. Also, I have abundant energy and a positive spirit. I am constantly astonished at how many people who are young and in the peak of health comment that they have too little time to read, create, exercise, see friends, do volunteer work, etc. Assuming you work, as I do, 7 to 5, that leaves five or six hours every evening free, as well as many weekend hours.  Use these hours to do something you love.

advice you would give to someone wanting to go to law school? There are two kinds of people who do well in law. First, people who are very good at details. Second, people who are very good at higher level strategic thinking.  The best lawyers are both. If you are only one or the other, you may struggle from time to time, in law school and in practice, but once you learn to play to your strengths you can do fine, especially if you work with people who have the opposite skill set.  You must in any case be very hard working and you should relish hard work, in fact take delight in it.

why do you think YWiB and the YWiB philosophy is important for young women in the community? Women in particular do seem to benefit from role models. It gives us a sense of what life could be like, so we can visualize it, effectively try it on for size to see if it suits us.  Organizations like YWiB provide a wide range of examples of the path forward, and show young women what can be possible. We tend to doubt ourselves, so it is important to have a forum in which to air both certainties and uncertainties so we can share the former and address the latter.