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Women’s History Month: Spotlight on Lori Kilgour   

March is Women’s History Month in the United States, providing a prime opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our female leaders. In this series, we’re featuring three women who hold leadership positions in our organization. We hope their perspectives will inspire a deeper appreciation for the impact women have in the forest products industry and beyond. 

Meet Lori Kilgour, chief information officer – North America for the Paper Excellence Group.

What was your path to becoming a leader?

I have been in the forest products sector for 31 years. When I graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My uncle was an operator in a local paper mill, and he helped me land my first job as a process engineer at the facility. I learned very quickly that I loved pulp and paper, manufacturing, and building and leading teams. A couple of years later, I accepted a position as a shift supervisor at a pulp and paper manufacturer in a small town about 4,500 km (2796 miles) from home. That job transformed my career. And from there, I took on increasing responsibilities within the forestry sector throughout North America, working for different companies. About ten years ago, I accepted a lead role in the IT department at Resolute. At the time, the company was going through a number of transformations, implementing large IT projects, and I led those projects. In my current role with the Paper Excellence Group, I lead the North American information technology function.

What do you enjoy about working in this industry?

This is an industry where unique and varied challenges arise constantly, which means there are always opportunities for problem-solving and innovation. I really enjoy the intellectual stimulation of finding creative solutions to complex issues, whether in health and safety, operations, strategic planning or IT infrastructure. 

What are you most proud of regarding the operation or the company?

I am proud to have been part of Resolute’s information technology team and to begin the development of the asset performance work – in both cases working with strong teams to deliver positive outcomes for the business.

What do you expect from your employees?

I believe in maximizing individual performance using a collaborative and results-driven approach. That means creating an environment where team members feel respected and heard, setting clear goals and expectations, and measuring outcomes. Goals should be challenging but achievable. We empower employees by giving them autonomy and ownership over their work, and by providing them with opportunities to make decisions and solve problems independently. We need to work together to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels confident to contribute.

What challenges did you face as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry?

Throughout my career, I have often been the only woman sitting at the decision-making table. This lack of representation can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and the need to work harder to establish credibility and visibility. Today, companies are taking more action to recruit women and to advance them to leadership positions, reinforcing the commitment to inclusion and diversity. There is an exciting future in manufacturing for women, and I look forward to welcoming more of them to sit at the table with me.

Whom do you look up to for inspiration? Are there women who have mentored you during your career?

I was blessed to be raised in a family full of strong women – my mother, my grandmothers, my sister, my cousin and my aunts. But I have to say that my mom had the biggest influence on me. She taught me to be strong. She taught me to fight for myself while at the same time being kind. She taught me to be caring, humble and supportive. And she taught me to do what is right. My entire family has been extremely supportive of me, as have my mentors throughout my career.

What advice would you offer women considering careers in forest products?

We need diverse and inclusive workplaces that reflect our world, so it is wonderful to see more women as well as ethnic and visible minorities considering careers in the forest products industry. I strongly believe that more diversity in decision-making will lead to better decisions and improved business performance over time. So, I would encourage women to embrace the many opportunities available and to know that their unique perspectives, experiences and talents contribute to a stronger industry and a richer society. 

Favorite cause: community/charity

I have two favorite causes, both local to the area I work and live in. My family supports The Depot Community Food Centre, which provides access to healthy food for community members and brings people from the neighborhood together. I am also proud to assist the Refuge des Jeunes de Montréal, which provides primary needs and support services to disadvantaged young men.

Quotation: “Be persistent. Take chances. Believe in yourself – even if that means making mistakes Always get back up stronger. Build a team, build a crew, build a squad around you. Look for mentors. Collaborate with others and help others around you succeed.”

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