Brian Lawson--Financial Executive International Canada's CFO of the Year--has become an expert at navigating global financial borders from his Toronto headquarters. As chief financial officer and senior managing partner of Brookfield Asset Management, he is responsible for the financial health of a firm that owns and operates $180 billion of assets across the world, including overseeing Brookfield's financial reporting and risk management activities.
Lawson also oversees Brookfield's funding efforts, which can include everything from public share sales in the U.S. to debt placements in Europe or Australia.
Perhaps that's why it may be no surprise that he was named CFO of the Year by FEI Canada in March, an honor given by an independent committee comprised of prominent members of the country's business community. This annual award, presented this year by PwC, American Express, Invest New Brunswick, the Canadian institute of Chartered Accountants, Lerners LLP, Sherrard Kuzz LLP and the Ritz Carlton, is based on several criteria, including leadership, social responsibility and innovation.
"Brian exemplifies all the characteristics of a true organizational leader," said Michael Conway, FEI Canada's chief executive and president, in a prepared statement announcing the award. "He was instrumental in Brookfield's growth strategy and the diversification of its funding sources while successfully navigating the organization through a challenging global economic environment."
A graduate of the University of Toronto and a chartered accountant by training, Lawson describes all the financial cogs of his firm with relative ease. He joined Brookfield in 1992 from the legacy Deloitte firm Touche Ross, moving up through reporting, dealmaking and finance. "My background was obviously on the accounting and financial reporting side, but I spent my early years here working on merchant and investment banking and corporate finance," he says. "I really enjoyed it, and it was a good background for taking on the CFO role."
When not working, Lawson spends time skiing and planning camping trips with his wife Joannah and their three children: Tristan, Alexander and Gillian. He also engages in charity work, including volunteering with organizations that focus on health and nutrition, such as the Community Food Centers Canada, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Oolagen Community Services, a children's mental health organization.