The Road Less Travelled- Tim Saunders
Numbers and patterns are nothing new to Tim Saunders. He played college ball at Bishop’s University before extending the fun with a U.S. semi-pro career with the Ottawa Bootleggers. All told, Tweed’s CFO spent 18 years on the line of scrimmage, time he says helped prepare him for a career in high finance.
Tim says the same things that first drew him to sport are what ultimately attracted him to the financial world. Like a team, he believes, a company must treat trust, teamwork and preparation as the cornerstones to success. Even when the forecast calls for a storm, he says, it’s best to keep the umbrellas at home until the rain falls.
“I played in a lot of games where everything seemed like it was lost and some of the finest moments for me were those come from behind victories when you win on the last play of the game,” he says. “You have to resist getting upset or overwhelmed by all the challenges, stay calm and focus on the solution as opposed to the problem.”
He’s built a career on that tenet. Tim’s side-stepped serene finance settings like an evasive running back and grown very comfortable with aggressive growth environments. Time and again, he’s banked his future on upstart underdogs. He oversaw the finance department at Mitel as it morphed from a $400 million to a $1.4-billion company and worked with Plasco Energy to develop its waste to energy business.
“The upside is it’s a blank sheet of paper, and the down side is it’s a blank sheet of paper,” he answers, when asked what attracts him to start-up companies. “I thrive in that kind of environment. As stressful and challenging as it was, I’d be bored to tears if I wasn’t like that.”
Within months of being with Tweed, Tim closed the deal for the acquisition of Bedrocan Canada. His hands-on approach has suited the company well. He says that in addition to allowing him to be in the thick of things, Tweed also provides no shortage of talking points to discuss the popular topic of cannabis within the community.
“When I first started here I wasn’t sure how to bring it up in a conversation because I wasn’t sure how people felt about it,” he says. “But in the last number of months, we’re on the front page, in the business section, the lifestyle section – it’s a topic of conversation everywhere. And it’s an easy one to have.”
Somewhat unorthodox for a finance executive, Tim wears a backpack to work, uses words like “stoked” and has a Twitter feed that reads similar to a late-night teleprompter: “My wife keeps giving me ‘vitamins’ and says, ‘here, take these.’ #ShouldIworry?” He’s not a strong swimmer but has spent summers scuba diving and whitewater kayaking. Despite not being a morning person, he rouses seven days a week before 6:00 a.m. for high-intensity interval training at Greco Lean and Fit.
At his wife’s behest, he recently retired his beloved Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe, a pastime he’s looking to trade for something more artistic. He toyed in vain with the guitar and is now considering picking up photography.
“I’ve made the mistake in the past of putting all my buckets into work only and the lesson I learned was that you have to keep many baskets afloat and balanced,” he says. “I don’t think I’m the stereotype of an accountant. I’ve always had an interest in going outside my comfort zone and I’ve always tried to push myself to experience life.”
Like sport, finance is a passion that plays second fiddle to family for Tim. As the father of three girls, he rallies behind causes – ladies Uno nights and Christmas baking sessions – that seem unbefitting of a burly accountant. “Girls are ready for the Bachelor finale!” he Tweeted recently. “Personally, I am still on #TeamBecka #Dadof3Girls #BachelorNation.”
Tim’s assertion that he’s not defined by the job is affirmed daily by his sharp sense of humour and refreshing take on existence.
He says that managing change, the most significant theme of his life and career, has been a challenge he’s met over and again with rolled up sleeves. At Tweed, he plans to continue employing that same hands-on approach as we grow from a local start-up to an international leader in the cannabis industry.
Here’s to Future Growth!
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