Skills4Good’s mission is to help companies win the war for talent by matching talent with purpose. In this Spotlight Interview series, we direct a spotlight on selected employees of our corporate partners that we’ve matched with nonprofits across the country. As recognized leaders of their companies, these employees generously give their time, talent and treasure as nonprofit board directors to create significant impacts in the communities in which they live and work.
Vice President, Enbridge
Enbridge is a Skills4Good Client. It is a North American leader in delivering energy. It’s been consistently recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.
Skills4Good matched Laszlo with the board of Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC), a nonprofit that facilitates the integration of immigrants and refugees into Canadian society. Its vision is to help immigrants and refugees achieve successful economic, social and cultural integration and become valued contributors to Canadian society.
Q: Why did you participate in the Skills4Good Board Program?
A: I had previous board experience in the for-profit sector, and also a history of volunteering with non-profits. Taking a volunteer board position with a non-profit presented itself as an opportunity to marry those two passions. As a busy executive, I welcomed the opportunity to outsource the matching of my skills with a nonprofit that could benefit from my expertise.
Q: Why did you choose to serve on the ISC board?
The ISC has a mandate to facilitate the integration of immigrants and refugees into Canadian society. I believe it is critical for Canada to ensure that each new Canadian become a contributing member of society. This is important for social cohesion and safety, and just makes plain economic sense. As an economist and immigrant myself, that is a mission I can get behind.
Q: What is the positive impact of your board service on your personal and professional goals?
A: As a member of the governance committee, I spend a lot of time thinking about well-functioning boards. And the more time I spend doing so, the more effective I am when interacting with Enbridge's for-profit boards. I was particularly pleased in participating on the search and hiring committee as the ISC identified candidates and interviewed for the CEO role. Getting to participate in an extremely successful CEO transition is a unique and rewarding experience.
Q: What invaluable contributions do you bring to the ISC board?
A: My background in Merger & Acquisitions (M&As) and strategy has been a good fit as the organization has had to evolve through a CEO transition, and a changing funding landscape in an evolving sector.
Q: Would you recommend other professionals to serve on a nonprofit board?
A: Joining a nonprofit board pays back three-fold.
It pays you as an executive as you learn and grow and build your experiences. It pays your company, because you become a better executive as you become more board-savvy, and better understand what your C-suite need, and what your board of directors are after. Finally, it pays your volunteer organization, because you bring corporate best-practices to the table and elevate the nonprofit organization.
Few things you do have a 300% return, joining a nonprofit board is one of them.
Q: Could you share some insights from your board service at ISC?
A: I worked together with the board chair and one other member of the board to hire a new CEO. Watching Hyder Hassan (ISC CEO) excel as he has met the challenges from the external environment and worked to motivate his team internally has been very rewarding. There are few things more damaging to the culture of an organization than getting it wrong on a CEO selection process. Actively participating on something so critical, and seeing it prove out is fantastic!
The Board of the ISC said:
“Laszlo Varsanyi (of Enbridge)’s contributions have been notable for his ability to direct, inspire, and guide the organization. We're grateful for the skills and character he has brought to the board. His involvement has been nothing short of invaluable.
With a recent vacancy, Skills4Good appeared to be the perfect option for us to find a skilled volunteer like Laszlo who would bring a strong intercultural knowledge and performance spirit.
Judgment on recruiting board members is reliant on intensive screening that was made much easier through Skills4Good and its ability to not only recruit top talent, but spare our resources as well.”
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.