Fireside Chat with Bindu Cudjoe
January 20, 2023
"The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written." – Melody Beattie
Happy New Year! In the blink of an eye, we are well into the first month of 2023. I hope you are still carrying the momentum of the new year energy and ready to turn your resolutions, hopes, and wishes into actions while enjoying being and becoming!
With that in mind, welcome to our very first Fireside Chat in 2023 featuring the extraordinary Bindu Cudjoe! It is an absolute privilege to have Bindu here to share with us her wise and encouraging words. Bindu’s heartwarming and positive sharing reminds us that it is ok to have changing priorities at various stages in life and that courage and optimism are the key ingredients to propel us forward during challenging and difficult times.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
P.S. If you would like an instant energy bar, check out the following inspirational quotes to power you through the new year!
"Every moment is a fresh beginning." – T.S. Eliot
"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." – Eleanor Roosevelt
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." – Albert Einstein
Part 1 - Introduction
Hi, my name is... Bindu Cudjoe.
Year of call to the Bar: 2001.
Type of practice, your role, and where: Started in private practice at Borden Ladner Gervais and McMillan, and then moved in-house at Bank of Montreal, Canadian Western Bank and now, Laurentian Bank. And I sit on a variety of community and legal not-for-profits.
How many children do you have? 3 kids, a daughter who is 18, and two sons who are 16 and 14.
What do you do for self-care or stress relief? Good question – drive my kids around? Travel and reading.
What would you do for work if you weren’t in the legal profession? I love being an agent of change – so far I have touched law, regulatory and banking, but I would love to do this in any number of industries and environments.
Part 2 - The first “Dual 10” Challenge: within the first 10 years post-license
Equilawbrium: Did you have a master plan for your career path? What was the driving force behind your career decisions? What are the important things to consider as you are figuring out your career path?
Bindu: I started with one – undergrad, law school, articling, partnership. Oh, and having a family. And then I got to the ‘top of the hill’ and had 3 kids to boot, and I had to look around for where I wanted to go next. So I thought about joining my client (being a bank) and trying that out, I could have never imagined where I would go once I went in house. I am so glad I didn’t have a plan for that!
Equilawbrium: Please list one soft skill that contributed to where are you now and suggestions on how to cultivate it.
Bindu: I am curious. About people, about processes, about motivations, about ways to improve.
Equilawbrium: Please list one hard skill that contributed to where are you now and suggestions on how to cultivate it.
Bindu: Strong time management. I was always good at juggling responsibilities but this is a crucial skill that you need to constantly work on and focus on.
Part 3 - The second “Dual 10” Challenge: have kids in their first 10 formative years
Equilawbrium: How did you juggle work/life responsibilities? Is it possible to have a family life and a work life simultaneously and harmoniously?
Bindu: I think the first step is to acknowledge that it is a juggle. And that it won’t always be smooth. And that you can’t do it alone. I am fortunate to have a supportive husband. And parents who wanted to be involved in our lives. And other team members (in my organizations and outside) who could help.
Equilawbrium: Having walked the walk, what is the one parenting tip or trick that you wish you’d known?
Bindu: You will have times in your life when you need to prioritize one thing/person/relationship over others, and that is ok. The important thing is not to lose yourself or values when things get imbalanced and to have someone/people who care enough about you to help you. But only you can do it.
Equilawbrium: What is your fondest memory of your kid(s) at that age?
Bindu: I love the curious nature of kids – from exploring their immediate world within the home to expanding their world to school and activities and friends. Their curiosity and adventure-ness inspires my own!
Part 4 - Achieving Equilawbrium: how to survive & rise from the “Dual 10” Challenges
"Perfection is not my goal – it is to have a rich life, with joy and contribution, and to build the courage and resilience to face the inevitable challenges ahead. I won’t always get it right, or do it well, but I am going to keep optimistic and go forward with good intentions." – Bindu Cudjoe
Equilawbrium: What was your biggest challenge going through the Dual 10 phase? Any advice for our readers who are living and breathing this phase and trying to survive and excel?
Bindu: I think it is to give yourself some grace. Perfection is not my goal – it is to have a rich life, with joy and contribution, and to build the courage and resilience to face the inevitable challenges ahead. I won’t always get it right, or do it well, but I am going to keep optimistic and go forward with good intentions.
Equilawbrium: What is your take-home message for our readers who are trying to find their “equilawbrium”?
Bindu: This is a hard thing to find on your own. So build your community – family, partners, friends, colleagues – whomever want to come along with you. And they may change over time, and that’s ok!
Equilawbrium: What is the one-word encouragement/support that you would want us to remember?
<<End of Fireside Chat with Bindu Cudjoe>>
**A MILLION THANKS TO BINDU!!**
Bindu Cudjoe is the Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary for Laurentian Bank of Canada, serving as a member of its executive team. She leads the legal, corporate secretariat and regulatory risk management functions responsible.
Previously, she was Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for CWB Financial Group, and prior to that served in a series of more progressive roles at BMO Financial Group, most recently as Vice President, Deputy General Counsel – Technology and Operations & Chief Knowledge Officer. Bindu began her legal career at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and continued as Partner with McMillan LLP in the financial services group.
She is a mother of three, active in her professional and local communities and is currently:
chair and director of the Oakville Community Foundation
founder of the Oakville Community Foundation’s Women Giving Collective
director of the global board of the Association of Corporate Counsel
director of the National GC Network
founder of Women General Counsel’s General Counsel University
founding member of the Ryerson University Law & Business Advisory Council
member of the advisory board for Alexa Translations
A frequent speaker in Canada and the U.S. on issues of innovation in the legal industry, legal operations and equity, diversity and inclusion more broadly, Bindu received the President’s Award for Women General Counsel Canada in 2021, was nominated as a Female Trailblazer by Canadian Lawyer magazine in 2021, and named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer Magazine in 2016 and a Lexpert Rising Star: Leading Lawyers under 40 in 2014.
Disclaimer: Any views, information, and personal opinions expressed by the authors or guests are entirely their own and do not reflect or represent those of their employers or clients.