Jane's Story

As the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Finning and leader of Finning’s global legal team, Jane Murdoch works hard to find the right balance to manage workload and support her team and has some good advice on finding a mentor. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” says Jane. “Support in the workplace comes in many shapes and forms, even unexpected ones.”

Prior to joining Finning, Jane had a variety of experiences with mentors, some had a lot of potential and talked the talk, but didn’t necessarily practice what they preached. “There would be times I would work with a senior lawyer who said they supported work-life balance and quality family time but then they would place expectations on me that didn’t always line up – last minute requests at 6pm or late-night emails requiring a reply,” she recalls. As a younger lawyer just coming back from maternity leave, working without flexibility and support was a challenge. “I wasn’t under any illusion that law wasn’t a challenging career that would require me to work some nights and weekends, but as a new mom, it was hard for me to rearrange child care last minute. It really made me think hard about who I saw as a mentor and who I wanted to work with.”

Jane later worked with a law partner who was known for his billable hours and demanding ways and she had some apprehension about facing the same kinds of challenges. “I knew his home life looked different from mine and I was skeptical about our working relationship at first, but his actions showed me he respected my time. If I had to work late or on the weekends, there would be ample notice so I could plan ahead. That understanding made me want to work harder, get results and learn all that I could from him as a leader.”

She learned two things: a good mentor understands and supports setting boundaries and that her leader’s acceptance of where she was in her family life helped intensify her overall career focus. The second takeaway was how a simple question rather than a demand for someone’s time can drive motivation.

As a result of these experiences, Jane understands the need to support young families starting to build their careers and to build teams with diverse opinions, experiences and backgrounds. “We’ve come a long way from where I first started in the world of law. At Finning, for example, we have the flexibility to work from home. I trust my team to get the work done because we are connected by the technology at our disposal.”

Outside of Finning, Jane has volunteered her time as a mentor through the Canadian Bar Association and informally. She says it’s not the length of time or formal relationships that make mentorships successful. “It’s someone’s willingness to meet new people and build a broad network. And it’s not just the mentee who gains from the relationship. I learned the most when I was open to discussing challenges and hearing different perspectives from people in various stages of their careers and I apply this knowledge every day.”