SFU chancellor awarded for lifetime achievement

Anne Giardini has served as chancellor of SFU since being appointed in 2014. - Photo courtesy of University Communications

Anne Giardini, SFU’s chancellor, will be recognized with a lifetime achievement award at the Western Canada General Counsel Awards next month.

Giardini received her undergraduate degree from SFU in 1980. Having pursued a major in economics and a minor in political science, she went on to study law. Giardini says that there was an underlying theme in her academic studies.

“I was interested in power, how it got exercised, and who had control. Having learned about economic power at Simon Fraser, legal power was another kind of power I wanted to learn about.”

Giardini continued, “It’s not that I was power hungry, I simply wanted to understand power from different areas.”

After receiving a degree in law, the now-chancellor began working at one of the world’s leading forest products companies, Weyerhaeuser Company Limited. Giardini has received awards for her legal and corporate work as a part of Weyerhaeuser’s legal counsel and then as president of the company. She has also been a strong proponent of encouraging greater female engagement in non-traditional sectors and roles.

Since 2010, Giardini has been appointed to the commonwealth group of senior lawyers, the Queen’s Counsel, has received the Robert V.A. Jones Award for her contributions to corporate law, and has been noted as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network.

Aside from her career at Weyerhaeuser, Giardini has also published two novels, The Sad Truth about Happiness, and Advice for Italian Boys. Currently, she is working on a third novel.

“My latest novel that I am working [on] is about death. There is still some work to be done on it, but it will eventually be released.”

Giardini’s mother, Carol Shields, was a novelist. Giardini is currently editing a collection of her mother’s writing advice which will be published in the Spring of 2016.

In addition to her legal work and writing, Giardini volunteers her time for and serves on the boards of several Vancouver organizations.

Giardini commented on how her time at SFU shaped who she is today: “My time at SFU made me curious. The professors and the students I met were all different and had different interests. And mostly, they were all passionate about what they were doing.

She continued, “I think my time at SFU gave me a lifelong curiosity about what people do, what drives them, and what moves them.”

The chancellor noted that she believes curiosity to be vital to an undergraduate education.

“Curiosity is a very important aspect of what you get out of an undergraduate degree. An undergraduate degree opens your mind to some of the possibilities out there.

“I really hope that students are not closed minded about their undergraduate degree. It really should open up possibilities.”