Meet Bridget Arsenault, Deputy Director and Director of Business Development, United Kingdom
Bridget Arsenault’s job keeps her on the go. She moves from board rooms to dining rooms seamlessly, meeting with potential corporate partners and making connections with individual and family donors. She’s always following up, chasing down appointments, getting introductions, putting in a good word. She’s a relationship builder.
And that’s the way she likes it. In fact, everything in her career has prepared her for this role, helping secure the partnerships that will grow WE across the U.K.
Originally from Nova Scotia, Bridget first got involved with WE as a student leader in 1998. An aspiring writer, she helped lead the organization’s junior journalism program, soliciting commentary and perspectives from young people across Canada to accompany columns written by Craig and Marc Kielburger that have since expanded to more than 50 newspapers in Canada.
Those early assignments fed an appetite for journalism that drove her to write for her university paper and serve as a youth correspondent for CBC Radio New Brunswick. It was at Vanity Fair in London, following her master’s degree in English at Oxford University, that she learned the skills that would serve her so well at WE.
As she rose in the ranks at Vanity Fair to associate editor, she wrote about the ideas, people and events that defined the UK. She interviewed politicians, icons and business leaders. She connected leaders in the arts world with top thinkers. And she learned to read people and build relationships.
WE talked to her about using her journalism skills to build a better world.
Question and Answer
What brought you back to WE?
I work here because I’m inspired by what we do. The way we approach volunteerism and service, the way we approach partnerships and our relationships with schools, everything is done with thought and care to make the greatest impact. I love the way the organization thinks. The whole idea of making doing good doable, of making social justice and volunteering second nature, it’s so obvious yet few organizations are engaged in this work. And the impact is profound.
How have your past positions helped you succeed at WE?
As a journalist, you have to think on your feet and be prepared no matter what comes. You might have planned a line of questions but your interviewee doesn’t want to play ball and you have to pivot, to bring the conversation around to something productive. It’s the same in business development where a donor may have one idea and you need to guide them, to steer a conversation in another direction. And then there’s the research side, doing ground work to prepare for an interview, who someone is, what makes them tick. It’s similar in terms of facilitating relationships, finding out what companies want to accomplish, why they’d want to partner with us. I’m a relationship person, which is something I got from journalism and it really connects to business development.
You first worked with WE when the organization was really young. Now that you’re back, how have things evolved?
It’s a totally different organization today than it was when I first joined—it’s in new countries, offering new campaigns and services, with new partners. But it has the same energy and goals from 20 years ago. That’s why I’m here, really. To think that WE has grown the way it has while keeping it’s mission central, it makes me excited for what comes next.
This interview has been condensed and edited.