Nora Curic: Insight from managing a 5,000+ women’s network


CIBC is a Founding Partner of #movethedial and has long been a champion of gender-balanced leadership both within and outside the organization.

We spoke to Nora Curic, Senior Director, Business Management & Enablement, about her recent appointment as Chair of the CIBC Women’s Network. Read on to find out who moved the dial for her and her advice for anyone looking to set up a women’s network in their own organization!

How would Nora describe the CIBC Women’s Network?

“We’re a network of engaged employees who are looking to advance and empower women and unlock their full potential through an inclusive workforce.”

They do this through a number of initiatives including connecting emerging women leaders with sponsors, supplying toolkits for their leaders to bring into teams within their 45,000 strong employee force, and leveraging discussions through their social intranet platform.

Nora describes the agile operating model the network has established as a very “organic” process and is thrilled to see the momentum and energy behind it. She was officially named as the Chair of the Women’s Network this month but has long been a part of the volunteer-driven initiative. “I’ve been really fortunate to be in this position and I want to continue to progress and keep moving that dial.”

Having played an integral role in the growth of the women’s network, Nora shares her four tips for people who are interested in setting up a network in their own organization.

1. Start with a plan

We spent a lot of time developing a very focused vision with key objectives and we measure ourselves against this. Identifying the KPIs that you will use to measure your success is critical.

2. Fresh thinking

When you’re looking at volunteer resource groups, they have a bit of a cycle and you need fresh thinking. After a year’s cycle of contribution, we’ll invite new members to come in and out.

3. Engage men

We focus very strongly on engaging men and creating a sense of advocacy and “ally-ship”, especially at the senior levels.

4. Be agile

Depending on the size of your organization, you need to be prepared for a lot of growth. Because our network is geographically diverse, we moved into an agile program model, with clear leadership accountabilities. Our program management team, led by Martha Currie, Consultant, Digital Strategy, designed our operating model in a way to ensure our projects are delivered with very clear accountability from all levels.

#movethedial moment

Sixteen years ago, when Nora was job searching, CIBC stood out to her as an “innovative and collaborative” company. Her first job there involved recruiting for banking centres within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Nora gradually built up her experience in talent acquisition, progressing into more senior roles leading CIBC’s National Recruitment Practices and taking on a HR Business Partner role.

Nora acknowledges there have been many people who have championed her career but that Aayaz Pira stands out as a strong sponsor. He is the Senior Vice President, CIBC Digital & Direct Banking. He’s also the Co-Executive Sponsor of the CIBC Women’s Network and played an important role in encouraging Nora to run for Chair.

Aayaz Pira and Nora Curic

“He has been echoing that support for me at different tables and bringing me to new opportunities; encouraging me and helping me build my confidence in the digital space.”

Nora tells the story of three years ago when she was Aayaz’s HR business partner at CIBC and how he moved the dial for her:

“He had an opening and tapped me on the shoulder and said: ‘I know a really good candidate for the role’. So I told him to give me their resume and I’d make a call and then he said: “No, it’s you!”

Although surprised to be asked, she joined the team and is still there today, as Senior Director, Business Management & Enablement.

Alongside her work in the Women’s Network, Nora helps move the dial for her official mentees at a director level who she meets with on a monthly basis, as well as a number of more junior employees.

“I enjoy the opportunity to help people grow. For me, a really great day looks like me helping someone achieve something they didn’t think they could.”

Tackling Challenges

With oversight of a 5,000+ member network, we were interested to see if there were any challenges facing women that Nora had noticed cropping up often.

“Sometimes, women can struggle with advocating for themselves and being in charge of their own PR. Women tend to give credit across multiple stakeholders, and sometimes this comes at their own expense.”

“It’s still on a journey. Dialogue and the amplification keep organizations like #movethedial very busy. These are the types of game changers that we need to progress and help us get to gender-balanced leadership,” enthuses Nora.

Róisín Nestor