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Marlene Lenarduzzi, BEng '92

(Chemical Engineering) | Unexpected reactions in the chemistry of life

Marlene Lenarduzzi still remembers the Grade 8 chemistry experiment that launched her down the path to Chemical Engineering.

“It was a phase change experiment that involved heating purple iodine crystals until they melted to form a dark yellow liquid and then vapourized to form a light purple gas,” she recalls. “The iodine then recrystallized on the surface of a Petri dish. I was hooked.”

Given that enthusiasm, it’s a bit surprising – even to her – that the 1992 grad is now head of Market Risk Strategic Initiatives with the BMO Financial Group.

“When I was in school, I never imagined that my career path would lead to banking,” she says. “While I knew that I wanted to pursue an MBA at some point, I thought the business degree would help in the context of my engineering career.”

A willingness to pivot and to try new industries, companies and job roles has defined Lenarduzzi’s career. She even left Canada for four months recently, to serve as an interim Chief Risk Officer for BMO in Ireland.

“It was a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and meet some wonderful people,” says Lenarduzzi. “I also got to experience the Brexit drama first hand, which was quite an eye-opener.”

The need to be flexible in imagining her career started early.

“I graduated in 1992, in the middle of a deep recession which hit manufacturing particularly hard,” she says. “I was struggling to find my first job when I met with Tom Marlin, who suggested grad school.”

After earning a master’s in applied science, Lenarduzzi went on to complete her MBA, which led her into the financial world.

“My advice to students is to trust in yourself and your capabilities,” she says. “Know that your career can take you down many paths and each of those paths offers new learning opportunities.”