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Chair, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

By: Himani Ediriweera

With a blended family of nine children and 20 grandchildren, and as chair of Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan with 295,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario and $107.5 billion in net assets, Eileen Mercier is a true matriarch.

Mercier assumed her position with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) Board in 2007. But her scope of influence extends well beyond her family and work life. Her path is paralleled by few.

As a member of the Board of Trustees at University Health Network, Mercier and the ING Foundation jointly donated over $356,000 toward a tissue-engineering project focused on repairing heart damage in children. This generous initiative followed her meeting with Dr. Ren-Ke Li, the Canada Research Chair in Cardiac Regeneration, a senior scientist at the McEwen Centre. Through that support, research papers were published, and data is being used in clinical trials.

Prior to her role as chair of OTPP, she earlier served as chair of their Investment Committee, a member of their Audit and Actuarial Committee, and a member of their Governance Committee.

She is also president of Finvoy Management Inc., a consulting firm that she founded in 1995, specializing in financial strategy, restructuring and corporate governance issues. Prior to that, she was senior vice president and chief financial officer of Abitibi-Price Inc.

Mercier is a professional director and her career encompasses more than 40 years of general management experience in financial services, communications, integrated oil and forest products sectors.

Besides OTPP, Mercier is a board member of CGI Group, Intact Financial Corp., ING Bank of Canada and Teekay Shipping Corporation.

In addition, Mercier is chair of the Audit Committee for University Health Network (UHN), which comprises the Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals and their affiliated research institutes. As a trustee, she plays a fundamental role in the financial health of the UHN.

Mercier has been honoured over the years for providing her insight and leadership to many causes, including Schulich School of Business at York University, and as chair of the Board of Governors at Wilfrid Laurier, serving on the President’s Council of Advisors. She funds a number of scholarships at the school, including the Eileen Mercier Arts, the Eileen Mercier Science, the Hamish Mercier and the Alumni Choir Scholarships.

She was profiled in The Globe and Mail this past May, in an entertaining and informative article on multitasking where she referred to the influence of her parents on her strong work ethic, and how it was hard for her at times not to take her work as chief financial officer of paper products giant Abitibi-Price Inc. to heart when faced with unavoidable cuts – to divisions and jobs. Being able to work through situations she finds challenging has enabled Mercier to continue her path of success.

Holding an MBA from York University and a masters degree in English from the University of Alberta, in 2010 Eileen Mercier received an honourary LLD from York University. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers and a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Directors of Canada.