Theresa Arsenault, QC has been named Business Leader of the Year for 2015 by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes and celebrates Ms. Arsenault for her outstanding contribution to the business community in Kelowna.
Theresa Arsenault has been practicing business and estate planning law as a partner with Pushor Mitchell LLP for the past 30 years. She is a leader in her firm, serving 18 years on the Management Committee, 4 of them as Managing Partner. She developed a very successful practice, with her many valued clients relying on her expertise in commercial transactions, real estate developments; including First Nations lands, trusts and estate planning. She acts as a mentor to lawyers within her firm and to other lawyers in the community.
Theresa is a leader in her profession as well, presenting at continuing legal education seminars on First Nations land development, real estate matters, and estate planning topics. She serves as a practice advisor to lawyers in the province, and was awarded the designation Queens Counsel in 2009 in recognition of her outstanding contributions to her profession.
Ms. Arsenault will receive her award at this year’s ceremony at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort on Wednesday, October 21st.
The following is a feature Woman to Watch article on Aresnault that was published in the Capital News earlier this year.
For three decades, Theresa Arsenault has been practising business and estate planning law in Kelowna.
Arsenault has been a lawyer for 33 years, spending the last 30 with Pushor Mitchell, where she is now a senior partner. She started her law career in litigation, but quickly moved into business and estate planning law as she found litigation did not suit her personality as she wanted to help people reach deals, not handle the fallout of ones that fell through. The transition to business and estate management law proved to be a great decision for Arsenault, as she loves learning and helping people—things she gets to do with regularity in her job.
In addition to serving her clients, Arsenault’s current role has her mentoring the junior lawyers and new staff at the firm—something she really enjoys to do.
“It feels great to see people succeed,” she described. “I don’t take credit for people succeeding, people succeed because they have the skills to succeed, and if I can sort of help them along, great. It is a great feeling to help other people, it’s one of the most rewarding things people can feel.”
Arsenault’s career and expertise in law have enabled her to serve the community in many other ways outside the courtroom. During her time in Kelowna, she has been a vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and spent six years on University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors, including one year as board chair. Arsenault recalled it was during her time with the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce that she first became involved with UBC.
“I had the chance to lead the campaign to bring degrees to Kelowna,” she explained. “Back in the 1980s there were just two-year programs at Okanagan College. I helped lead the Chamber in the Getting There by Degrees program, which lobbied the provincial government into making Okanagan College a four-year institution. That was back in the day when Okanagan College became a four year institution, then became Okanagan University College, and in 2005 was taken over by UBC to become one of UBC’s campuses, with Okanagan College remaining as a free-standing institution. So it was a really cool opportunity to get to help the community create more access to higher education because the effect has been amazing on the valley.”
Between the 8,300 students at UBCO and the 7 to 8,000 students at OC, and all of these people that are now staying in the valley that used to leave, we have so many opportunities. It’s really because of getting higher education here, more opportunities for people to study here.
“Then the spinoffs that come from universities and colleges is that they create jobs, they create research opportunities and industry and businesses that create jobs that attract and retain bright, young people. So I just think it’s been an amazing opportunity to get involved with that in the time I’ve been here.”
Arsenault is still involved with UBCO as co-chair of the UBC External CommunityAdvisory Committee. While Arsenault has been instrumental in improving the post-secondary education opportunities in the Okanagan, she has also seen outstanding success as a lawyer. In 2009 she was award Queen’s Counsel, a prestigious achievement for her time practicing law.
With more than three decades of experience and a love for helping others, Arsenault offered advice for people just starting their careers.
“The first thing is to know your area, you need to have some substantive knowledge of what you’re going to be working in,” she noted.
“The second one is to not be afraid of sharing that knowledge with people, because only good can come from sharing that knowledge.
“And build relationships, especially when you’re in a service industry like I am, people like to deal with people they like. Building relationships is really important, because you are helping people and you can only help them if they trust you and come to you for assistance and follow your advice. It’s not just about make a quick buck and move on, because the growth of any practice and business depends on referrals from satisfied clients and customers.”
She also had some words for women who are beginning leadership roles.
“Don’t be afraid to take a leadership role, the community needs leaders,” Arsenault explained.
“It’s not about getting credit, it’s about getting work done and about making a difference and making the community the way you want it to be, and I think anyone who wants to make a difference can.
“Secondly, people need to be careful about balance, and not just paying lip service to balance but doing things like looking after themselves. Get exercise, have quiet time. Have that balance so that even when you’re really going and you’ve got your work, your volunteer work, your family, all of these piece that you’re still taking time to get some exercise and some outside time so you can handle it.”
Arsenault’s passion for helping others succeed, personal success and vision for the Okanagan are what make her a Woman to Watch.