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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Dalhousie chapter.

Bonavie is the Vice President of Finance at Franco-Nevada, a Toronto based mining company. At work, her role primarily consists of looking after republic disclosures, press releases and ESG reporting. However, the work definitely changes day by day. I feel very grateful to have heard about Bonavie’s experiences, accomplishments as well as perspectives on diversity in the workforce and the challenges that women and women of visible minorities continue to face. Just from speaking with Bonavie for forty minutes, I quickly learned that she is extremely introspective, empathetic and intelligent. I could genuinely listen to her speak all day. 

Growing up in Montreal and then moving into Toronto to build her career, Bonavie didn’t have a concrete idea of what she wanted to do. While working at PWC she spent a year in Chile, never having travelled to South America and not knowing the language – she was completely out of her comfort zone. However, she recalls it as one of her proudest accomplishments of her career: 

“I mean, my first language is French, so I did have a little bit of a base in Spanish, but the first time I tried to order a pizza, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know how to say anything!’ But looking back now, I think it was brave to do something that was completely different and completely outside of my comfort zone and just kind of taking that leap and seeing where it took me. And now I can look back and say, wow, I’m trilingual now. I actually speak Spanish because I put myself out there and was very vulnerable. I feel so much for immigrants that come to our country and don’t speak the language. It’s a very vulnerable place where you can’t be yourself. You can’t make your normal jokes that you come across. You don’t come across as your normal self. So I think that was a huge reason why I grew a lot out of it.”

Listening to Bonavie speak about her time in Chile was inspiring and I enjoyed hearing about how she took an opportunity because she wanted to try something new-  and from that experience, she grew so much. Throughout our chat, Bonavie used the phrase “Go where the wind takes you,” and this really stood out to me because it has led to such wonderful experiences for her and reiterated the idea that you truly do not need to have a concrete outline of what you want to be doing with your life. By taking new opportunities, you learn and grow as a person.  

Balance is extremely important to Bonavie and she works to ensure she maintains a work/life balance, which I know is difficult for a lot of people. Bonavie is a wife and mother of two children. Managing motherhood and a career isn’t easy, but with a great support system, she makes it happen.

“I read the book Lean In by Cheryl Sandberg a number of years ago and she was talking about how women had to lean in and really try to give it their all. And I think that’s true. I think it’s very hard to do without having a supportive husband or some kind of support system. Because the reality is, and I think a lot of women think this way, that you have to do it all. But it’s just not possible… it took me a while to realize that I can’t expect to do it all… I think you have to let go of the idea that you can accomplish everything that you used to and be a fully present mother. 

I think a lot of it is actually mental because I don’t think that I’m necessarily doing something that different than I used to when I first came back from work and had to sort of strike that balance. But it’s sort of changing your expectations… As for me, I like working in the morning. I’m more of a morning person. So my husband rearranged his schedule so that I could come into work early in the morning so that when I leave  I’m not feeling like I didn’t put in enough time.”

Work- life balance is something that I have talked to a lot of people about, especially women trying to strike a balance between motherhood and their careers. For Bonavie, creating those boundaries is extremely important and allows her to balance what is important to her – like having dinner with her kids every night. 

Being a woman in an extremely demanding career, I asked Bonavie if she has ever been treated differently because she is a woman, in either a positive or negative light. Her answer encouraged me to reflect a ton on my own personal experiences and the progress that is being made in the industry:

“I think especially today where we are, it’s not perfect, but I think at least in what I’m seeing in my company is that there’s a real big push on gender diversity. So I think a lot of people are benefiting. A lot of women are benefiting from that, including me, and it is obviously positive. I think the part that’s hard to really gauge is, is it going to really make a difference in the long term? Is it going to be enough for women to be like, ‘Okay, yes, there’s going to be really 50/50 representation?’ I don’t know, because there are some structural changes that are required, like the way maternity leave is in Canada right now. I think it’s very hard. Women are so disadvantaged. I think when they take maternity leave financially and in terms of promotions and career, the step back that you take with every maternity leave is really staggering… But like I said, I think companies are trying, so it is positive. 

The other reason why this answer is difficult to provide is because when it comes down to the numbers, I do wonder am I being paid or are women being paid equally as their male counterparts? You actually don’t know the answer to that unless there is pay transparency and visibility into what you make versus your male peers. So maybe I am not being treated the same, or maybe I am. But the lack of transparency makes that hard to determine for sure… But I think people are more aware of these kinds of things now and trying to be more inclusive. And again, not inclusive just for gender diversity, but any kind when you’re doing group activities, you’re trying to make it so that you can accommodate people of all kinds of backgrounds.”

Bonavie’s comment on maternity leave really left me to reflect as I had never really thought about this. In school we learn about the glass ceiling and pay gap, however, we do not necessarily talk about the consequences of taking maternity leave in the middle of your career. It takes a great deal of adjusting, not only in your personal life but also in your work life. Bonavie shared her thoughts on paternity leave and how it may make a difference for men and women to split this leave to take care of a child. However, it won’t be effective until there is no longer any judgement surrounding it. 

To conclude our chat, Bonavie shared some advice that she would offer someone just beginning in their career and it is definitely something that I will keep in mind as I continue to navigate not only my career but every element of my life:

“My theme is really just I’ve gone where the wind takes me… I sort of knew what I wanted to do, but not really. I would try to just not feel the pressure to sort of put myself in a pigeonhole and just stay the course, and instead to just try new experiences. And even if it doesn’t work out, we have such a lifetime ahead of us. And I think that’s the pressure that a lot of younger people feel, you think, okay, I’m going to choose to study this, and this is all I can do for the rest of my life. People have, especially nowadays, 2nd, 3rd, 4thcareers, you can always go back and study. And obviously, I know it’s not an opportunity that everybody has with financial concerns but nothing is permanent, so try something new, and even if it doesn’t work, you’ll get a chance, hopefully, to try something different.” 

It was a pleasure to speak with Bonavie and I am so honoured to have been able to listen to her experiences and to have heard her advice first hand. 

Jasmine Rana

Dalhousie '24

Jasmine is a Campus Correspondent and the President of Her Campus at Dalhousie University. Majoring in marketing, she is extremely interested in content creation and story telling, as interpersonal connection and relatability is extremely important in today’s world. When she isn’t working on creating content she can be found making brunch, planning her dream home via Pinterest, or making extremely specific Spotify playlists.