Features

Marie-Élisabeth Baribeau – Pomerleau 

Ensuring compliance excellence 

Marie-Élisabeth Baribeau is the cornerstone of integrity and compliance at Pomerleau, where she serves as the head of ethics and compliance. In this influential role, she navigates the intricate landscape of ethical standards and regulatory compliance to safeguard the company’s reputation and uphold its commitment to transparency and accountability.  

Marie-Élisabeth Baribeau | Head of Ethics & Compliance | Pomerleau 

Marie-Élisabeth Baribeau | Head of Ethics & Compliance | Pomerleau

Pomerleau is a leading construction company with 11 offices across Canada. It has completed projects like the Four Seasons Montreal Hotel and Private Residences, the REM (largest public transit infrastructure project in Quebec)and the University of Toronto Academic Wood Tower (tallest mass timber structure in Canada).  

With her wealth of experience and deep understanding of legal intricacies, Baribeau ensures that Pomerleau operates within the bounds of legal and ethical frameworks, setting a gold standard for integrity in the construction industry. Her dedication to upholding ethical principles and fostering a culture of compliance underscores Pomerleau’s unwavering commitment to excellence in every facet of its operations. 

“Before coming here, I’d never worked in a company where the employees knew the values by heart. At Pomerleau, authenticity, excellence, adaptability, innovation and, more importantly, love are central to everything we do. They kind of act as guiding principles for our day-to-day decisions,” Baribeau says.  

Implementing cutting-edge updates 

Upon joining Pomerleau in 2022, Baribeau embarked on a mission to establish the company’s ethics and compliance program from the ground up. Armed with her legal expertise and insights, she enhanced existing methods and controls, laying down robust processes and procedures for the newly formed department. Baribeau identified and addressed weaknesses through meticulously evaluated and revised the program’s foundations, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness in the fast-paced construction industry. 

Marie-Élisabeth Baribeau | Head of Ethics & Compliance | Pomerleau 

Recognizing the importance of employee awareness and engagement, Baribeau focused on fostering a speak-up culture within Pomerleau. She spearheaded initiatives to raise awareness about reporting channels, empowering the company’s 5,000 employees to speak up about any misconduct or irregularities they witnessed.  

In addition, leadership roundtable discussions where ethics are integrated into business priorities have been commonplace. Authenticity and collaboration are core values at Pomerleau, with employees encouraged to share concerns and ideas openly—external and internal reporting lines allow employees to voice concerns anonymously. 

“This proactive approach has strengthened Pomerleau’s ethical standards and reinforced its commitment to transparency and accountability,” she explains.  

With the ethics and compliance program’s foundations nearly finalized, Baribeau continues to drive progress by implementing updates and enhancements. Recent initiatives include revisiting and redrafting the code of conduct, developing a gift registry to track exchanges with third parties and expanding the compliance program to cover all aspects of the company’s operations. By staying ahead of regulatory changes and industry best practices, Baribeau ensures that Pomerleau remains at the forefront of ethical business practices. 

With a strong focus on integrity and collaboration, Baribeau is instrumental in upholding Pomerleau’s commitment to excellence in the construction industry. Looking ahead, Baribeau remains committed to driving positive change and fostering a culture of ethics and compliance within the company. 

Driving integrity 

Baribeau leads a dedicated team of three professionals within the legal department, which boasts over 20 lawyers. Ensuring the recruitment and retention of top talent is a constant priority, with the HR department actively supporting the legal team’s hiring efforts. Pomerleau’s commitment to excellence is reflected in its numerous awards, including recognition as one of Canada’s top employers, greenest employers and employers for young people. 

Marie-Élisabeth Baribeau | Head of Ethics & Compliance | Pomerleau 

Despite the challenges of managing time amidst a fast-paced business environment, Baribeau finds fulfillment in the transversality of her work. Collaborating with different functions and business units allows her to contribute to Pomerleau’s success while upholding its core values of integrity and collaboration. The opportunity to continuously learn and tackle new challenges keeps her motivated, particularly as she navigates complex legal landscapes and strives to find innovative solutions to conflicts. 

Baribeau’s dedication to personal and professional growth is evident in her willingness to step outside her comfort zone and explore new areas of law. Her innate ability to connect with people and find solutions within complex situations underscores her commitment to integrity and ethical leadership.  

As she continues to lead the ethics and compliance function at Pomerleau, Baribeau remains focused on driving positive change and fostering a culture of accountability and transparency within the organization. 

From law school to corporate compliance 

Baribeau’s journey is a testament to her dedication, expertise, and diverse skill set. Armed with a law degree from the University of Sherbrooke and a master’s in international business from HEC Montreal, Baribeau embarked on a career path that seamlessly blended her legal acumen with her passion for corporate governance. 

Marie-Élisabeth Baribeau | Head of Ethics & Compliance | Pomerleau 

Her career trajectory began with a stint as legal counsel for Cavalia, where she honed her skills in the entertainment industry for over two years. From there, she transitioned to the role of director of legal affairs for Gestion Valeo, further expanding her expertise in corporate law and compliance. 

During her nearly 11-year tenure as legal counsel for TC Transcontinental, Baribeau truly made her mark. Specializing in various areas, including corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, commercial and employment law, traditional litigation and libel litigation, she became a trusted advisor to the company’s leadership team, navigating complex legal challenges with precision. Baribeau also deeply dived within an international corporation as regional ethics and compliance officer for WSP Canada, where she had the opportunity to participate in an international ethics program with multiple counterparts globally.  

In September 2022, Baribeau brought her wealth of experience and leadership skills to Pomerleau, where she assumed the role of head of ethics and compliance.  

“As soon as I met the leadership team at Pomerleau, I noticed that integrity was rooted at the core of their business decisions and had immediate support and buy-in from them to implement various initiatives across the organization,” Baribeau says.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring III 2024 Edition here.

Published on: May 3, 2024

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