We are very pleased to introduce Tim McGee QC as the newly appointed Chair of the SMUS Society Board of Governors.
Tim was born and raised in Victoria and attended boarding school in Quebec for his high school years. He earned a degree in government from Harvard University and subsequently studied law at the University of Ottawa. Tim practiced corporate law at Torys LLP in Toronto before moving into high-level roles with Bell Canada, first as Chief Legal Officer and subsequently as President of Bell TV.
“Management and strategic development were a whole different skill set; they were things that I didn’t know would interest me but they became big parts of my professional career,” Tim says. “Working in teams, working with people, working on objectives – I really enjoyed all of those.”
Tim and his family returned to Victoria in 2005. He was appointed CEO of the Law Society of BC in 2005 where he served for 12 years until his retirement in 2017. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2013, a recognition given by the province for exceptional service to the legal profession.
Tim and his wife Mary Mullens have two children who are both SMUS alumni. Charlotte ’08 is a lawyer in Toronto and Fraser ’11 is an elementary school teacher in Surrey.
Mary sat on the school’s Board of Governors from 2011 to 2014. Tim was elected to the SMUS Society Board of Governors in 2015 and has served on several Board committees including as chair of the Governance and Nominations committees.
“Education has always been a big part of my life and it’s meant so much to our family. Seeing the commitment that the school makes to provide students with a really diverse and rich experience in academics, arts, sports, community service – these are very important to Mary and me,” Tim says. “Being involved by working with and supporting talented people in education who are helping kids thrive and be successful is something we enjoy doing and has allowed us to stay in touch with this great community.”
Let’s get to know Tim better:
What should parents know about the SMUS Society Board of Governors?
The Board is really the focal point for the long-term guidance and direction for the school. We are 14 volunteers – a mix of current parents, past parents and alumni – and our job is to work with the Head of School to set the school’s strategic direction to ensure the mission and vision are achieved, and ultimately ensure our long-term viability and success at the strategic level.
How would you describe your role as Chair?
The Chair is responsible for making sure that the Board runs effectively and efficiently. To do that, you have to be a leader and a listener who is looking to tap into the diverse skills and experience of the Board to help foster collaboration and consensus decision making. You have to build good relationships with the Head of School and the other Board members, be organized, ensure the Board stays focused and have some fun while you’re doing it.
What are you most looking forward to as Chair of the SMUS Society Board of Governors?
We have a truly outstanding Head of School and Board so working with this group of colleagues in partnership is something I’m really looking forward to. We have our different viewpoints and backgrounds, but at the end of the day we are all committed to act in the best interests of the school. I’m particularly looking forward to supporting the launch and implementation of the new 2020-2030 Strategic Plan which has been the result of a great working partnership among the Board, the Head of School and the Senior Leadership Team, after extensive consultation with parents, alumni and students. At the end of the day, our goal is to ensure that students are successful and thrive when they’re here as students and after in life.
As a past parent yourself, why do you think it’s important for the parent community to get involved at SMUS?
I think it’s so important to contribute to the school in any way you can. The Board and serving on Board committees is just one of those areas to get involved, but there’s also the Alumni Association, the Parents’ Auxiliary, fundraising and lots of other opportunities to help with events and performances. All these roles help the students and the school thrive and they are also very rewarding and fun for the parents themselves. It is a win-win for everyone.
What are you passionate about that the SMUS community might not know about you?
I love cooking. I’ve been fascinated by cooking since I was a little boy. There was a comedy TV cooking show called The Galloping Gourmet with a wonderfully crazy chef named Graham Kerr and I learned to cook by watching those half-hour shows. At first my mum would give me a hard time for watching TV after school but once I started to whip up some tasty dinners, we never looked back! Now I have a passion for cooking but especially as a way to bring family and friends together for a good meal.
Is there an area of the school you are most looking forward to contributing to?
In addition to helping grow and nurture our important school stakeholder relationships with the Board, I am also looking forward to seeing the students in action more. I love attending the musicals and concerts, and watching the sports teams compete, and this role allows me the privilege to learn even more of the many ways the school provides opportunities for our incredible students to pursue their interests and expand their horizons.
What is one achievement in your professional life you’re most proud of?
My adaptability and the fact that I’ve taken a core skill – my legal training – and have been able to apply the skills and experiences into areas of business management and into the public interest forum. For me, variety and change were drivers in my career; they helped me to stay engaged and stimulated, and I’m proud of my ability to adapt and seek out new opportunities in areas that were sometimes outside of my comfort zone.
What do you bring to the role as Chair? And what do you think you will gain from this experience?
I bring a lot of experience in terms of governance. Working with a variety of boards has been a big part of my professional life. I’m also a people person, so meeting and working with so many different people working toward a common goal is something I enjoy. As for what I may gain from this experience, the sense that you’ve accomplished something that is beneficial to others certainly drives me. I also expect to learn from my colleagues and build trust and friendships that will foster a wide variety of perspectives and a collegial forum to getting to the best decisions for the school. I and the rest of the Board will also continue to learn a lot from the amazing teachers and staff at the school about the evolution of education, models for learning and child development and models for financial sustainability. These are areas that are really important to us globally and from a human perspective.
What is the biggest challenge the school faces?
The school is on a roll; it has an amazing foundation of strength with top students, top faculty, its beautiful location, a supportive community of alumni and families, and great facilities. I see our biggest challenge as building on that success. To do that we need to be confident, but not complacent. We are very fortunate to have Mark Turner as our Head of School. Mark brings a wealth of experience to his role from a distinguished career in education, and we have also been impressed by his vision and innovative thinking. We will also continue to benefit from the excellent legacy of the school, which includes having had Bob Snowden as Head of School for 22 years and most recently the outstanding leadership from Blair Hagkull as Board Chair. We have a wonderful opportunity to continue to build and support the success of the school and help ensure that it is thriving as a place of outstanding learning and preparation for life as well, and indeed better 20 years from now than it is today.