Mélissa Gilbert was recently named financial personality of the year by the Top Leaders of the Financial Industry of Quebec. Recognition of the highest level for the young businesswoman. And for good reason: she was the one who brought up the idea of ​​bringing together La Capitale and SSQ Assurance to create Beneva, the largest mutual insurance company in Canada. Profile.

Flashback to March 2019: the then La Capitale Executive Vice-President of Finance discusses the idea with the company’s CEO, Jean St-Gelais, of combining the company with its competitor SSQ Insurance. Somewhat skeptical of the project, which had failed many times over the previous 30 years, the manager nevertheless entrusted him with the task of going to dinner with his counterpart Jean-François Chalifoux, CEO of SSQ Insurance, to propose the strategy. of merger.

It was enough to set in motion what was to become the greatest achievement in Mélissa Gilbert’s 20-year career: “The merger of the two companies is the biggest project I have been able to contribute to, and certainly the one that excites me the most! »

Barely ten months after the first business dinner, the two mutuals announced their merger in January 2020. Once the approval had been received from directors, mutualists, shareholders, governments, the AMF and all the bodies that had to give the green light to the project, the transaction giving birth to Beneva was concluded in July of the same year.

Record time for the finance industry, which was also in the midst of a pandemic. For Mélissa Gilbert, now Executive Vice President and Leader, Financial Affairs, of the new company, the job was far from done. Almost three years later, the integration of the two companies is just about to be completed.

Proud of the colossal task accomplished, the manager nevertheless looks back with humility. She points out that the birth of Beneva is the result of the work of many colleagues: “Collaboration and teamwork are very important to me, because you cannot accomplish anything alone. »

Knowing how to surround yourself well is therefore part of the recipe for success. This is also advice she gives to women moving into senior leadership spheres: “Sometimes women have impostor syndrome despite having all the skills!” We must trust each other and recognize our ability to learn and surround ourselves well. »

In April, Beneva became the first Canadian insurer to sign the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, confirming its plan to reduce its greenhouse gases (GHG). According to Mélissa Gilbert, the action is rooted in the principles that gave birth to the companies behind Beneva: “La Capitale was created by civil servants who could not afford their funerals, and SSQ Assurance was born to cover the medical expenses for workers in the Lower Town of Quebec. There is therefore a need for a very significant social impact that remains within our teams. »