When Rhiannon Traill was finishing a degree in arts and contemporary studies at Ryerson University, she was taking part in an event, speaking on a panel. Unbeknownst to her, in the audience was a founding board member of The Economic Club of Canada.
When the board member approached her after the event, he mentioned that the club was looking for someone to fill an entry-level position.
“I had heard a little bit about [the club], but not much, to be honest,” says Traill.
She took his business card, but she wasn’t looking for employment at the time and had plans to do a graduate degree.
“I came home that night and I sort of spoke to my husband and he said, ‘Why don’t you just go and meet them? What’s the harm in checking it out? You don’t necessarily need to take a job with them, just see what they’re offering.’”
The Economic Club of Canada is a non-partisan organization hosting events all across Canada, introducing its members and guests to the greatest leaders of our times. The club has hosted senator John McCain, former president Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the president of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko and Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was governor of California.
“It was kind of like magic,” she says. “When I walked into the tiny little office and I met Mark Adler, I just kind of fell in love with his vision for what he wanted to do with The Economic Club.”
Traill started out as the club’s director of operations in 2008. Within three years she became the club’s vice-president and in 2011 she was promoted to president and CEO when Adler was elected as a Member of Parliament for York Centre.
“I grew up the ranks pretty quickly and helped Mark to grow the club into a national organization. So it’s pretty interesting and fluky,” she says.
In 2011, Traill came up with the idea of the Jr. Economic Club. It’s an offshoot organization from the club and mandated to educate Canadian youth on personal money matters and financial literacy.
“It has exploded,” she says. “It’s done really well. I’m really thrilled with the program and just the outpouring of support we’ve gotten from the corporate community.”
Traill has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. She’s a natural self-starter. At 10 years old she started a dog training business with a friend. The business ran for about four summers and all of the money was donated to the humane society.
“It was funny, when I came into The Economic Club, the first event that I ever worked on was when we hosted Bill Clinton, so that’s a way to get you excited about the job,” she said. “I went in and I got to meet Mr. Clinton, and my eyes kind of lit up and I sort of thought all of these possibilities that we could do.”
At 28 years old, Traill’s story is an inspiration for youth with big dreams. Since she’s been with the club, she has assisted in rebranding it from the Economic Club of Toronto to the Economic Club of Canada, opening chapters in Ottawa and Calgary, with another in the works in Vancouver. She also started the Voice of Hope Award.
“You can do anything that you believe in. Part of it is about right time, right place, but not ever thinking for one second that you don’t belong,” she says. “Just really believing in yourself and your abilities, what you can bring to the table.”