Intelligence, integrity, initiative and intuition.
Those are the four main traits KF Aerospace CFO and director of finance Meryle Corbett believes people need to succeed in business.
Corbett has more than 30 years of business experience, and during that time has been part of many unique projects and successes.
She began her career as a Certified Management Accountant in the Albertan oil fields in the 1980s and spent 12 years there, working her way up the corporate chain from running financial statements to marketing and accounting, and finally acquisitions and corporate planning.
With all of her promotions and as high as she rose within the industry, it’s clear Corbett never ran into a ‘glass ceiling’ despite working in a male-dominated field.
“Even though there are some people who might go, ‘Oh, well, you are a girl,’ most of the time in business there are people who want to get the job done and want people who will get the job done to work with them,” she described.
“I always looked around for those kind of people who thought it’s about the job, not where you came from, the colour of your skin or if you’re male or female. It’s about how are we going to make this goal, and how are we going to pull the right team together to do it.”
Those are the types of people Corbett recommends identifying early on in your career, and adds it’s important to stand out to them as the person who deserves the promotion. Corbett’s method for being that person is quite simple; always be 10 per cent ahead of everyone else.
That method revolves around work ethic, as Corbett noted throughout her career she has always worked more than standard seven or eight hour days.
Corbett’s work ethic has not only paid off in promotions, but also in some fantastic work experiences, such as working for Sun-Rype (where she spent 15 years between the oil fields and her current position with KF Aerospace) as part of a negotiations team on a joint operation with a winery in Beijing, and getting to be part of a national board that merged three accounting designations (Certified General Accountants, Chartered Accountants, and Certified Management Accountants) into just the Chartered Professional Accountants.
Corbett’s time at Sun-Rype was the beginning of her career in the Okanagan. She worked in many different areas during her time there, and believes varied experiences go a long way in helping a career in business.
“Each job and each role expands the breadth of kinds of opportunities that are there for learning, and it’s really about having the enthusiasm and curious mind to try to find out more about those things,” she explained.
After her decade and a half at Sun-Rype, Corbett moved into a position with KF Aerospace, where she is now in charge of accounting and is part of an 11-member leadership team that goes over contracts and new initiatives, amongst other things.
Corbett’s decades of experience and success have given her insight into the business world, and she offers advice to other young women who are starting out in their various industries. Her advice is built around the four ‘I’s; intelligence, integrity, initiative and intuition.
The intelligence portion is about having the technical skill for what you want to do. Corbett advises getting post-secondary training to facilitate that.
Integrity is something that has served her well in business, as she notes there are many times she has encountered moral obstacles and taken the high road. Sticking to her values hasn’t failed her yet.
Initiative returns to the strategy of being 10 per cent ahead of everyone else.
Intuition revolves around understanding people and listening to that little voice that is telling you what to do.
In addition to the four ‘I’s, networking is a very valuable business tool. Corbett noted she checks in with her contacts at least once every year and often introduces them to each other if she believes they can benefit from it. In return they often do the same for her, which helps grow her network even further.
She explained if you start building your network from day one, it will become massive and you will have a contact in any field you need. Not only that, but she believes networking is where one of the greatest parts of business comes out.
“Touching people’s lives, making connections, and that blur of just business into making friendships are the highlights for me, as well as volunteerism and making our community better.”
Corbett’s experience, success, work ethic and helpfulness toward others are all part of what make her a Woman to Watch.