In addition to guiding a company of 1,300 people with $2.5 billion in annual sales, Lisa Giannone is true to her parents’ values that encompass her family, hard work and giving back to the community.

“My father came to Canada when he was sixteen years old, and got a job in construction. He saved enough money so that he could marry my mother and bring her to Canada when she was nineteen. They had been teenaged sweethearts in Italy, and theirs is a love story.”

“We conducted an exhaustive search internally, clearly setting out the criteria for the position of President and COO of BFL CANADA. Lisa not only met but she exceeded these expectations and was the unanimous choice of our committee. I am also proud to say that she just happened to be a woman. In keeping with my vision and belief of the need to empower women; I am very proud of this decision.” – Barry F. Lorenzetti, Founder of BFL Canada

“My mom also worked, and I’m the youngest of three girls. We lived in Montreal North, and I grew up speaking Italian, English and French. I was a determined child, and participated in a lot of school activities; and signed up for soccer, volleyball, basketball and Track & Field. The sports programs kept me out of trouble, because we had to keep our grades up in order to be on the teams. To make sure I did well with my school work, I’d go to my room after our family dinner and I’d do my homework. My determination for athletics also applied to my schoolwork. It was important to me that I be at the top or near the top of my class.”

Lisa Giannone

Lisa balances a demanding work schedule and family life with her husband and three teenagers

Lisa attended CEGEP, and was intent on going to university. On the other hand – her father’s opinion was that it was time for her to get married and to start having children. “My Dad didn’t want me to go to university, but in the end he came around.” Faced with Lisa’s determination and his wife’s support of Lisa’s dream of a higher education, perhaps he realized that he couldn’t hold her back.

Lisa enrolled at Concordia University and graduated with majors in Finance and Marketing.

Lisa began working in the insurance industry and built a solid reputation and record of achievement. About 15 years ago, her reputation caught the attention of Barry Lorenzetti, Founder and President of BFL Canada. “I had a conversation with Barry about coming to BFL, and during which I explained that I was pregnant with our first child. Barry said that was ok, that I could come back after maternity leave. I was concerned about taking on a new job and managing our family life with our first child. In the end, I decided to stay where I was.”

“A couple of years passed, and Barry rekindled our conversation about coming to BFL. I said – you’re not going to believe this Barry, but I’m pregnant again – with twins!”  This time, Lisa saw that coming to BFL to manage the Montreal Head Office as Vice-President responsible for business development for Eastern Canada would be a good move. In October of 2009, Lisa Giannone was named Vice President of BFL Canada. “At the time, we had 300 employees and $400 million in business. We now have 1,300 employees and we have sales of $2.5 billion, and I’m proud of the contribution that I’ve made to the company’s growth.’ Lisa adds; “Starting 13 years ago, I had a very small team, and I grew it. I was hired to expand here in Montreal and then managed the Montreal office, our Head Office.”

Barry Lorenzetti, the Founder and CEO of BFL Canada, made the decision in 2022 that he should step away from the day-to-day operations of the company and select a new president for the company.  A search committee was struck and the job parameters were defined. Five potential candidates were interviewed. Lisa states; “The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Quebec (CDPQ) made an investment in our company in June, 2018. This was and remains the only outside investor in the company. It was paramount to protect the CDPQ investment in BFL Canada.” This would be a major consideration in the hiring process. The Caisse investment was and remains an important endorsement of BFL Canada and its business model and practices. With 13 years of solid business development, Lisa Giannone was a serious candidate.

“I think it’s exciting for employees to see that the new President comes from within the company and is a woman.”

Lisa leads a team of five executives in The Office of the President. “We have representative from our major regions, and all of our national business decisions are made here in our Head Office.”

Lisa’s demanding job has become even more demanding since she assumed the Presidency. “I put in full days, but I’m able to have dinner with the family most nights. Our two daughters play hockey, and I can’t make their week-day games – but I’m there for their weekend matches. Both girls are playing at the AAA level for the Laval Amazones, who won the 2023 Chevrolet Cup.”

This past spring, Lisa accepted to be one of four Co-Chairs for the MUHC Foundation annual fundraiser, Le Bal Rouge, which raised an record $1,685,000 for the foundation’s Dream Big, Breathe Easier campaign.  Lisa was joined by Maria Della Posta, President of Pratt & Whitney Canada, Sacha Haque, General Counsel and Secretary of Sagard, and Lucie Guillemette, Executive VP and Chief Commercial Officer of Air Canada (now retired). The four women were indeed the ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ for this year’s gala fundraiser.

For Lisa, her commitment to fundraising for research into RSV and other respiratory diseases was personal.  Lisa Giannone was 8-months pregnant with twins when her 2-year-old son contracted RSV.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common virus that in some cases can cause severe illness. Lisa watched her little boy get sicker and sicker, and finally called an ambulance. He was put on oxygen, and Lisa had no idea if he would survive. “It was the scariest 24 hours of my life,” says Lisa.

Fifteen years later, Lisa’s son is a thriving 17-year-old and her twins are 15. Though it was many years ago, Lisa acutely remembers the horror of that day, and the expert care that saved her child’s life. Since then, respiratory medicine has been close to her heart and inspired her to co-chair the MUHC Foundation’s Le Bal Rouge gala for 2023. This year’s event supported respiratory medicine at the Montreal Chest Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

“Our shareholding is entirely owned by our employees, with the exception of the Caisse de dépôt and placement du Quebec”

“Improving our health care system is incredibly important to me. I was very excited to be a part of Le Bal Rouge,” says Lisa.

“This November, I’ve volunteered to be the Co-President of a fundraiser gala in support of Rue de Femmes, and organization to help women who have been mentally and physically abused.” Unfortunately, their situation often results in them becoming homeless. The staff at Rue de Femmes helps to stabilize their clientele and get them back on a path of self-sufficiency.

Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership

BFL Canada founder Barry Lorenzetti is known for supporting women’s entrepreneurship and leadership in the private sector. In conjunction with The John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, he has crested the Lorenzetti Centre for Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership. Lisa Giannone is a member of the organization’s Advisory Board, herself a graduate of Concordia University in Finance and Marketing.

At the corporate level, Lisa and company founder Barry Lorenzetti continue to implement a carefully planned succession. This included a national tour of the company’s largest offices in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver before concluding at the Head Office in Montreal. At every stop, senior management conducted town hall meetings. It gave Lisa an opportunity to introduce herself and to present her role in the direction of the company on the coming years. “In addition to explaining the transition, we wanted to measure our employee’s engagement. Last fall we conducted a survey that asked what BFL Canada could do to improve their work experience.”

“I found an incredible level of engagement across the country and received a 96% response rate. There were many questions asked and much enthusiasm. I think it’s exciting for employees to see that the new President comes from within the company and is a woman.”

For Lisa Giannone, she understands that ‘letting go’ is not in her boss’s vocabulary. “Barry Lorenzetti is the founder of the company, and the founder never really leaves. It’s important for him to remain with us, at the highest level as a CEO, as someone who carries through our vision as a founder. He stays very close to us.”

It will be my role to manage operations, growth, employee management and execution of the strategy. I will still report to Barry, but he will be more of a mentor to me, supporting me so that I can continue to grow the company.”

Lisa balances a demanding work schedule and family life with her husband and three teenagers

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