How Bindu Cudjoe does it // Making It Work

Bindu Cudjoe
Find out how BMO's in-house star makes time for friends, family and vacations

By Helen Racanelli

On Tuesday March 10th, 2015

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Bindu Cudjoe

BMO Deputy General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer
Year of call: 2001


On a drab Toronto day in a meeting room at Bank of Montreal’s Bay Street head office, Bindu Cudjoe zips in, grabs a seat and infuses the space with a disarming blend of warmth and high energy. Even her well-cut sheath dress is a zingy shade of blood orange. Named deputy general counsel and chief administrative officer for BMO in November 2014, she is hitting the gas at work. “This is a new role, and when you’re leading people, it’s important to be there with them. I have a ton of people who count on me and I have a lot of meetings,” she says. “When you’re in-house, you have to demonstrate value by being connected.” And for Cudjoe, all of that face-time comes naturally. She’s a true “people” person.

The 40-year-old takes the GO train from Oakville every day, where she has a house full of kids, ages 10, eight and six. Her husband’s practice as a criminal defence lawyer is as time-intensive as hers — up to 60 hours a week. She’s also a director at the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers and the chair of the local public school council where her children attend. So how does she do it all? She doesn’t try to do it all. “Everything has a season,” she says. Right now, it’s time to kill it at work, nurture relationships and family, and pepper the pot with leisure travel. “I’m not as fit as I could be, and that’s alright,” she says. She doesn’t beat herself up for not pumping iron or running marathons.

In our digital, virtual world, Cudjoe prioritizes spending time with people. If she gets invited to coffee by junior colleagues, or even people she’s only interviewed, she always goes. Lunch dates are spent with friends. Meetings take up much of her workday, so she catches up on reading and paperwork during her commute. She and her husband take an annual couples vacation, often to Cuba. “It’s important to have a strong marriage, and it’s important to give yourselves quiet time together,” she says. At home, her kids have been clamouring for a swimming pool. But they’re not getting one. “Instead we’ve gone to Ghana — where my husband has family — India, the cottage, San Francisco.” Indeed, for Cudjoe, it’s always the season to seek out that elusive thing — quality time.


Bindu CudjoeThe lowdown

Start time: 8:30 a.m.
End time: 6 or 7 p.m.
Weekly hours: About 60
Former jobs: Partner at McMillan LLP and adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall
Sanity-saving domestic weapon: Her mom and dad relocated from her hometown of Calgary after her eldest was born, and they get a salary to look after the kids. “It’s a serious role, and I want them to be compensated. Plus, my mom ran a home daycare”
Prioritizes: Sleep. “I get about seven hours. Less than that, I feel it”
Lunch: Food court in the PATH, with pals. “It gets progressively less healthy as the week goes on. But it’s apples and granola if I can’t get out of the office”


This story is part of The Precedent guide to getting it all done, from our Spring 2015 issue.

 

 


Photography by Daniel Ehrenworth