Sidestepping the status quo: Ottawa’s Isabelle Perreault creates career in transformation

In the span of a week, Isabelle Perreault can wear many hats and, at times, even medals.

She’s a digital advisor, community volunteer and championship boxer with a passion for business and self-improvement.

"I have a huge amount of respect for entrepreneurs," says Ms. Perreault, the vice-president and practice lead for digital transformation at Stratford Managers. "In my position within the digital transformation group I get to have a taste of being an entrepreneur. I manage the practice, but do so in a supported environment."

Ms. Perreault previously spent eight years as the director of marketing and digital for the Ottawa Senators hockey team. She saw a shift at the intersection of digital technology and business and wanted to be a leader in that space.

"I am perfectly suited to this role," she says. "It's my sweet spot. I consumed everything I could about digital technology and transformation for a year before making the leap into consulting."

In fact, it was up to Ms. Perreault to create the digital transformation business line at Stratford Managers.

"Digital transformation is in constant evolution," Ms. Perreault says. "I did the research and put it all in writing – the transformation framework, the processes, built a digital readiness assessment – I documented everything. It was a tremendous amount of work. But I consider myself a specialist in this space now. Many agencies offer digital marketing, whereas my focus is more on organizational readiness and the ability to leverage digital to improve performance. It is very satisfying."

It is easy to see when meeting Ms. Perreault that she is extremely goal-oriented and not comfortable settling with the status quo.

"People are often caught up in the mundane of everyday tasks. I believe it's important to set big goals and take responsibility for the life you create," she says.

Ms. Perreault keeps herself accountable to her goals through the use of a vision board. It includes three disciplines she practices everyday:

1) Fitness: A focus on health of the mind and body. "I would love to do an Ironman someday and to test my physical limits," Ms. Perreault says.

2) Inner peace and mindfulness: Ms. Perreault sets aside 60 to 90 minutes each morning starting at 5 a.m. so she has time to think and reflect. "This allows me to start my day from a place of clarity, thoughtfulness and focus," Ms. Perreault says.

3) Leadership ands self-improvement: Ms. Perreault is always striving to be better and grow. As an example, she asks herself, "How can I make this my best year yet?"

"It's important to stay focused on the outcome," Ms. Perreault says. "How you get there may not always be in your control – and you have to be flexible with the details – but always keep your eye on the end goal." The vision board helps Ms. Perreault stay on course and focus on what matters.

It should come as no surprise that Ms. Perreault is as accomplished in her personal life as she is in business. "I have never enjoyed the status quo. And it's not wrong to say that I am driven," she laughs.

Being driven is how Ms. Perreault became the Ontario Women's Boxing Champion three years in a row. "I wanted to get fit," she explains. "So I started doing Muay Thai kickboxing, which lead me to boxing."

She was fast and strong and had to travel often for matches due to the limited number of female boxers at the time. She also ran her first marathon shortly after the birth of her twins.

Ms. Perreault is proof that busy people keep getting busier. A mom of three young children, she recently took on a board position with the Youth Service Foundation.

"I am passionate about kids and being on the YSB Foundation Board allows me to get involved and give some of my time," Ms. Perreault remarks. "People who have nothing to lose try harder. People with comfortable lives tend to have more fear of risk of failure," she says. "It creates complacency."

With a demanding career, board position and busy home life, it's easy to wonder how Ms. Perreault does it all.

"I think as women we have it all. Just not at the same time," she explains. “You need to focus on one or two areas that will have a big impact and then move onto the next mountain."

Fenix Solutions Inc. CEO Jennifer MacKinnon writes a monthly column, Ottawa Women of Wonder, to profile and celebrate local women in business.