Nathalie Lassonde

Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors at Lassonde

“We define ourselves so much by our hair. I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was young and have had it every length. For me, it’s like an accessory. But shaving your head is so liberating. It also adds character—it’s the best way to stand out!”

An assertive and courageous woman, Nathalie Lassonde is Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors at Lassonde, a business founded by her great-grandparents. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from HEC Montréal. Nathalie is also the mother of a 14-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. Determined, generous and daring, she is a people-focused leader who strives for the well-being of all her employees. To support children with cancer, Nathalie said YES to Les Audacieuses.

Setting an example and breaking free

The reason she agreed to take part in Les Audacieuses was quite simple. “I said yes because Leucan is a truly wonderful cause with a vital mission—to support families dealing with their child’s cancer in any way it can. I felt the need to support them and contribute to the investment in clinical research.”

This isn’t the first time Nathalie has shaved off her hair for Leucan. “I’ve done the Shaved Head Challenge before. One of my coworkers had shaved her hair, and I felt it was such a powerful gesture. I’d been thinking about it for a while and thought, ‘what could be better than doing it for a good cause?’ It was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!”

There’s no doubt that hair is very important to women. But since Nathalie has had a shaved head before, her perception is different now. “We define ourselves so much by our hair. I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was young and have had it every length. For me, it’s like an accessory. But shaving your head is so liberating. It also adds character—it’s the best way to stand out!”

Nathalie’s core value is family. Family and kids. She attaches great importance to youth and adolescents. The well-being of the people around her is also very important. It influences her every decision. “I want everyone to feel good. I’d help everyone if I could. Right now I’m doing something to help Leucan families.”

A unique role model to follow

Nathalie appreciates the small things in life. She savours every moment. “I’m passionate about life in general, the experiences we can have, sharing, the beauty around us, a sunrise or sunset—it always amazes me. Watching my children laugh, learning new things, enjoying new experiences—it all adds colour to my life.”

Nathalie is the punkiest of the Audacieuses! She’s far from your typical business leader. “Do people think I’m unique? I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure, I’m quite different from a lot of other people. Right now, I have blue hair, many tattoos and I’m overweight. I have nothing to hide. I’m me and very happy with who I am.”

Les Audacieuses is a way of showing her children the importance of loving yourself above all else. “My daughter is in those teen years where you want to be like others, blend in and define your personality all at once—and she has a mom who’s not like everyone else. I want to show her that you can be different AND beautiful. That you don’t have to conform to please others. You’ll never please everyone, so stop trying so hard. But to do it, you have to be ready to fall down and pick yourself back up. Dealing with people’s opinions isn’t a smooth ride.”

Staying authentic and dedicated

Her way of positively influencing others is through dedication. “I never tell people what to do. Showing enthusiasm for what I do is how I inspire those around me. When you’re passionate about something and you talk about it with enthusiasm, people feel inclined to follow you. I’m also a very emotional person—I experience life at 110% and people feel this.”

For Nathalie, good leadership is a skilful blend of kindness, humility, listening and positivity. “When you’re at the head of a family business, you need to surround yourself with compassionate, qualified individuals. I consider myself a generalist. I can’t do and know everything. And you have to be humble enough to recognize this. To manage a business you need to take risks, assume responsibility for them and stay positive.”

This business leader who has over 3,000 employees across Canada and the United States is known for her big heart and accessibility. “I love people and take pleasure in getting to know them. I share my life experiences with them. That’s how you build trust, credibility and leadership. To be a successful executive, you need to stay authentic.”

Dream big. Always.

“If you have a dream, go for it! It won’t always be easy. You’ll have to work hard, you’ll have doubts, you may question yourself and face challenges along the way. But if you really believe in your dream, don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible. When I finished CEGEP, my grades weren’t strong enough to get into HEC. But that was my dream! At first, I was told to forget about it. Determined as I am, I took evening classes and finally got into the program I really wanted. I did it! I didn’t let anyone stand in the way of my dream. Nobody could stop me.”

“My definition of courage is going for it, even if you’re scared. Courage means taking action when you have no other choice. It’s also about taking risks. And being bold means stepping out of your comfort zone. Boldness often leads to some very beautiful experiences!”

Five years ago, Nathalie found out she has a learning disability. Suddenly, everything became instantly clear. “My brain works differently. All my life, I’ve had trouble with math, and it took a big toll on my self-esteem. I was really relieved when I was told I had a lexical access disorder. Despite all the challenges, I completed my bachelor’s degree in finance. That’s what you call determination!”

Nathalie is a fulfilled woman and mother. “I’m proud of my children. Watching them grow and thrive is a beautiful thing. They have learning disabilities too, but it doesn’t stop them. They don’t let their difficulties get them down; they push through them! I’m also proud to be officially the 4th generation to run the family business. These are my greatest achievements.”