In 1995, Clarence Synard ventured to Nunavut, one of Canada’s northern territories nestled in the vast Canadian Arctic. It marked the beginning of a transformative journey for a young man with a passion for improving communities and a keen eye for opportunities that make a difference in the lives of others.

Clarence Synard, President & CEO of NCC Investment Group Inc. and a TEC Canada Member

Clarence Synard, President & CEO of NCC Investment Group Inc. and a TEC Canada Member

Early Beginnings

At 18, fresh out of high school, Clarence spent a summer working with his Dad in Nunavut. Little did he know that this visit would kindle a connection that would shape his future. While pursuing a social work degree at university, he continued to return to Nunavut during breaks. It was during his second year of university that he made a life-changing decision to shift his career towards the trades. In 2001, he proudly earned his red seal in Carpentry and decided to make Nunavut his permanent home—drawn to the unique opportunities to make a positive impact in the region.

A Rising Career and Path to CEO

Fast forward to 2005, Clarence embarked on his career as a construction superintendent at NCC Investment Group Inc (NCC). It was here that he played a pivotal role in shaping groundbreaking projects that significantly contributed to NCC’s role in Nunavut’s development.

Over the years, Clarence honed his skills, immersing himself in the construction of crucial infrastructure for housing, businesses, and government facilities within the territory. By 2019, his dedication had led him to the position of President and CEO at NCC, a testament to his unwavering commitment to meeting the present and future needs of Nunavut.

The Role of Volunteering

Reflecting on his accomplished path, Clarence credits his success to his formative years of volunteering. “I’ve always been passionate about giving back through volunteer work,” he shares. “It helped me connect with and understand my community and its people. Engaging in volunteer activities introduced me to remarkable individuals beyond my immediate circle. These connections extended to various groups and organizations, expanding my network. Over time, I built trust and relationships, including key figures who supported and encouraged my growth, even when I didn’t actively seek it.”

Today, Clarence remains an active volunteer in the Iqaluit, Nunavut, community. Currently, he is President of the board for the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce and Vice President of the board for Skills Canada Nunavut and is involved with numerous other organizations that make a positive impact in the community.

Challenges and Growth

In today’s evolving business landscape, leadership demands more than traditional competencies—it requires nuanced “soft” skills, and challenging leaders to adapt, and Clarence’s journey was no exception.

As President and CEO at NCC, he faced multifaceted challenges beyond conventional metrics of success. “I was dedicated and hardworking, committed to delivering my best to the company,” Clarence reflects. “However, I came to realize that I was falling short in areas the board expected of me, and I didn’t quite know how to bridge that gap.”

“The transition to President & CEO marked a significant turning point in my career. After a challenging board meeting that left me feeling deflated and uncertain about my next steps, I opened up to a friend who is a business owner to share my frustrations. That’s when she introduced me to TEC Canada, and it truly became a lifeline for me.”

Clarence Synard

President & CEO of NCC Investment Group Inc. and a TEC Canada Member

Clarence Synard (left) was named the “Businessperson of the Year” at the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Qikiqtani Business Achievement Awards.

Pictured is President and Chief Executive Officer of NCC Investment Group, Clarence Synard, being named the “Businessperson of the Year” at the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Qikiqtani Business Achievement Awards.

Discovering TEC Canada Membership

TEC Canada offers peer advisory groups in all major cities across the country. However, Clarence faced a unique challenge being located in Iqaluit, Nunavut—as the nearest TEC group with leaders from non-competing industries and his best-fit TEC Chair (Lindsay McMurray) was in Toronto, Ontario. Despite the added complexities of time for monthly travel and additional expenses, Clarence trusted his instincts and proceeded. It didn’t take long for him to realize it was one of the best decisions he had made.

During one of his first few TEC Canada group meetings, Clarence confronted the critical board matters he was experiencing and brought the situation to the group table for insights.

“Immediately, I saw that my fellow members and TEC Chair weren’t afraid to challenge me. They don’t have a stake in my company, and won’t experience the impact of my decisions, but their investment in me and wanting me to succeed as a leader has not only transformed my professional life but also my personal well-being,” says Clarence.

A Confidential Space for Personal Growth

Within the trusted and confidential environment of a TEC Canada group meeting, leaders like Clarence find the transformative power of candid discussions. It’s here that personal challenges find a place on the table, connecting leaders with unwavering support.

Clarence explains, “TEC provides a space to openly discuss personal issues. I was amazed at how my fellow members—successful leaders in their own right—could relate to my experiences. They not only understood the pressures I faced but offered invaluable tools and perspectives that helped me navigate them.”

Clarence Synard, President & CEO of NCC Investment Group Inc., and TEC Canada Member

Clarence Synard

President & CEO of NCC Investment Group and a TEC Canada Member

“As a TEC Canada member, my investment in time and travel from Iqaluit to Toronto each month is significant. Despite the additional time commitment and travel costs of being from a more remote area, I never miss a TEC Canada group meeting because of the value I gain from each and every session. I’ve had many staff, some of whom I’ve worked with for 18 years, talk about the difference in my leadership since I’ve become a TEC Canada member.”

Overcoming Loneliness at the Top

You’ve likely encountered the adage, it’s lonely at the top. However, it’s only when you reach leadership positions that you truly understand the isolation that comes with the corner office.

“Every leader knows that it can be incredibly lonely. I’ve felt it at different points in my journey, but the camaraderie within my TEC group has dispelled any feelings of isolation. Sharing challenges, both professional and personal, in a safe, confidential space has been invaluable. This support system has enhanced my resilience and overall happiness,” says Clarence.

“Joining TEC was eye-opening in more ways than one. It’s not just about professional growth; it’s about embracing authenticity as a leader and being comfortable in my own skin. TEC has shown me that true success lies in being at ease with who you are. It’s a community where personal challenges, the kind we usually shield from the professional sphere, find a voice. Being a TEC Canada member opens up a transformative space where candid conversations that matter can be had and real connections are made. It makes all the difference in our businesses, personal lives, and the world.”

Embracing Guidance and Proactive Leadership

As NCC continues its remarkable growth journey under Clarence’s leadership, the company’s revenues have surged from $30 million to an impressive $200 million in just the first few years.

Clarence passionately encourages fellow Canadian business leaders to recognize the need for guidance and mentorship, emphasizing that narrow perspectives can yield outcomes akin to the challenges faced by industry giants such as Kodak and Sears. Instead, Clarence firmly believes that active engagement with a diverse group of peers not only ushers in fresh insights but also fosters a culture of proactive thinking, benefiting both businesses and the individuals steering them.

“Through TEC Canada membership, I’ve honed my leadership skills and gained insights that extend far beyond the boardroom. The collective wisdom of my TEC Chair and fellow members, along with their unbiased perspectives and unwavering support have been instrumental. Without joining TEC, I might have succumbed to the pressures of my role—that’s why I say it’s not just a career changer; it’s a life enhancer,” he shares.

“I just had my two-year anniversary as a TEC Canada member, and looking back, I don’t think I would have survived without it. TEC has transformed me into a better CEO, providing continuous learning opportunities.

I initially sought TEC Canada’s support during a period of regular growth, but now our company has experienced explosive growth. Being able to confidentially discuss these developments with experienced leaders from non-competing industries continues to be invaluable.”

Clarence Synard

President & CEO of NCC Investment Group Inc. and a TEC Canada Member

Parting Insights and Inspiration for CEOs

As Clarence’s leadership continues propelling NCC’s growth, his story serves as an inspiration for fellow Canadian business leaders. It highlights the importance of embracing guidance, fostering diversity of thought, and steering businesses toward success.

Clarence’s parting words echo the sentiment that, in leadership, the journey is as vital as the destination—a journey made richer with the right support network.

“I’ve learned to broaden my perspective. Initially, I struggled with meeting the expectations of my board, feeling confined within my own thoughts. Through TEC sessions, and interactions with guest speakers and my fellow members, I have expanded my understanding. I’ve embraced diverse viewpoints, empowering me to approach board meetings with newfound confidence. TEC has not only transformed my professional life but also my personal well-being.”

About NCC Investment Group Inc.

Since its establishment, NCC Investment Group Inc. has effectively delivered construction projects exceeding $500 million in value. These projects encompass vital infrastructure, cutting-edge office spaces, and residences for both the Government of Nunavut and social housing initiatives. Notably, their recent achievement includes the construction of a 28-unit complex in Iqaluit.

With a distinguished track record of excellence and an unwavering dedication to community advancement, NCC Investment Group Inc. continues to be the relied-upon ally for shaping a more promising future in Nunavut. Learn more about NCC Investment Group Inc. here.

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