How the Career of Sylvain Vincent Reflects a Broad Strain of Canadian Leadership


While talk about independence for Quebec has ranged in seriousness and intensity over the years, there has never been any denying that the province has a unique character of its own. That partly stems, of course, from the fact that French, not English, is the most widely spoken language within its borders, but this really only tells part of the story. Quebec’s distinctiveness runs a great deal deeper than that, with a fundamentally different outlook on life prevailing in the minds of many residents. At the same time, Quebec is also a place where many familiar features crop up again and again. Business leaders throughout the province, for example, often stand close to their peers in other parts of Canada in terms of their backgrounds and accomplishments.

A look at the career of Sylvain Vincent might make this clear. After graduating from Montreal’s well-known HEC business school with an undergraduate degree in accounting, he set off on the kind of path pursued by so many others with similar qualifications. Just about every young accountant seeks on-the-ground experience to combine with the training needed to become a CPA, and Vincent was no different. A plum position with highly regarded Ernst & Young carried him a long way, with a number of impressive accomplishments culminating in his naming as director for the Quebec bureau of the global firm.

Along the way, Vincent found plenty of other opportunities to become involved as a leader, founding and taking charge of various charitable groups. Just as a great many others do in different parts of Canada, he also threw his hat in with his city’s Chamber of Commerce, finding the work done by the organization to be too invaluable to go without his support.

Since then, he has branched out further, taking positions on a number of different boards and offering up his accounting and auditing expertise to a variety of worthy groups in the area. That kind of activity-filled career might be overwhelming for some, but in its basic outlines it closely resembles the trajectories of many other high-flying achievers in different Canadian provinces. While Quebec sometimes seems to stand out almost entirely, it also often turns out to be more familiar in significant respects than some Anglophones might suppose.