Meaghan Kappel, Consultant, Deals Strategy

Meaghan Kappel, Consultant, Deals Strategy

Meaghan is a consultant with the Deals Strategy practice at PwC Canada.

What is your morning routine?

My alarm is set for 5:30 a.m. during the week because I like to take my time in the morning (read: hit snooze). I start my days with hot lemon water and milky black tea, and turn on Metro Morning radio for local and Canadian news. I commute by streetcar, which I use to catch up on reading, and for fresh air and exercise. When I get to the office, I check my emails, write my to-do list for the day, and scan the news to bring myself up to speed. Financial Times, CB Insights, Financial Post and The Broadsheet are my starting points.

Tell us about your career path.

Ten years ago I was studying biopsychology. While I liked the topic, I was pretty sure working in a windowless lab wasn’t for me. Armed with a science degree and little else, I decided to move to Prague for an adventure…and to reunite with a man I had fallen in love with during a year abroad in France (spoiler alert: it worked out in the end).

My first year in Prague was pure improvisation. I dabbled in fashion, publishing and teaching languages before realizing I was better at the management side of these creative industries. I landed my first real desk job at a non-profit news syndicate where I oversaw the distribution of opinion articles on world politics, economics and international development. After three years in that fairy tale city, we moved to Toronto (my hometown) where I decided to seek sales and negotiation skills by representing talent for an intellectual speakers’ bureau. Then I combined the two experiences working account management at a digital media startup.

After working for three of the “the coolest small companies you’ve never heard of,” I knew I wanted to take my career to the next level, possibly in consulting. I craved a more structured career path and wanted to open more doors for myself, both short term and long term. Given my experience and international bend, an MBA program felt like a natural fit. I moved to Paris in September 2014, and graduated from HEC Paris with an MBA in June 2016.

I’ve been at PwC Canada since July 2016, where I help private companies and equity firms across all industries evaluate major investments or strategic changes in a growth, partnership or acquisition context. My current boss is a French expat and HEC alumnus, so I can say without a doubt that my MBA helped open new doors.

What challenges do you or women face in your industry?

In deals consulting, women are easily outnumbered by men. I’m often the only woman or one of the few at the table. This dynamic isn’t much different from my early media days in Prague. The challenge remains the same: how to remain authentic as a strong woman while playing by the “rules of the game.” I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Every industry has its challenges; that being said, I’m incredibly proud to work in an organization committed to advancing women. PwC Canada has a goal for complete gender equality in partner admits by 2020 and is a champion of the UN HeForShe movement.

While I know it’s ultimately up to me to drive my own success, working in such an encouraging environment goes a long way.

What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?

I’ve never been afraid to carve my own path, which has been fundamental to my success. Beyond that, here is my advice:

● Find and cultivate both mentors and sponsors.
● Be open to small companies where you can wear several hats and have ample responsibility early in your career.
● Choose leaders, not just companies.
● Ask for feedback often and turn it into action and change.
● Make it a priority to gain international experience to learn new ways of thinking and to stand out on the market.
● Take a salary negotiation class.
● Choose a partner who supports your goals.
● Plan for lifelong financial independence.

How do you separate work life from your personal life?

If I weren’t already married, I’m pretty sure I’d be married to my job. I unapologetically love my work, solving client challenges and learning from whip-smart, dedicated colleagues.

While technology has made work and life more interconnected than ever before, everyone needs to recharge. I tend to see my Monday to Friday as dedicated to personal and professional development: PwC, professional events, networking, volunteering, friends, and so on. The weekends are for me, my husband and my family.

What inspires you?

The next generation of young female leaders. They are some of the most driven and imaginative people I know. I mentor a high school girl with a local charity and advise young professional women looking to pursue an MBA. Giving back really helps me keep things in perspective and reflect on my own experience and success, while inspiring me to think in different ways.

When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?

I’m a big believer in being deliberate even with your down time. I do yoga on Tuesdays and Sundays and run twice a week to clear my mind and keep fit.

Given how hectic my weekdays can get, I live for my weekend indulgences: sleep, regular massages, salon time, art exhibits, restaurants, movies, bike rides. I’m also a voracious reader, devouring about a book a week.

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