Q&A With Mary Ann Turcke, Sc'88, MBA'97

Mary Ann Turcke, Sc’88, MBA’97, is the President of Bell Media, Canada’s premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio, out-of-home advertising and digital media.

Her connections to Queen’s go beyond her two Queen’s degrees. She grew up on campus – her father David Turcke was a professor and the head of the Department of Civil Engineering. Her husband is a Queen’s grad and her daughter is a student.
Mary Ann gives a lot of credit for her career success to her tricolour education. “My Queen’s degrees changed my life. It put me on a path that I honestly never dreamed of.  I am forever grateful.”

The connection is running a little deeper as Mary Ann has been named this year’s recipient of the Toronto Branch Award. She will be honoured at a reception on Nov. 25.

She took time out to answer a few questions about her time at Queen’s.  

Q: Tells us about your Queen’s experience.

My Queen’s experience taught me how to work harder than I ever imagined.  My classmates became friends and we worked together to get through it successfully.  I absolutely love Queen’s. I grew up on campus as a child of a professor. I did not one, but two degrees there. I am a proud Queen’s parent. My daughter, who is now a business student, was eight-months-old when I entered the inaugural class of the “one-year” Queen’s MBA in 1996.

Q: What is your favourite memory at Queen's?

I’ll always remember being on the FREC Committee the year following a couple incidents with the grease pole... Dean David Bacon called me into his office and told me we needed to make sure there were no accidents during the grease pole this year because if there were, it would be cancelled, and my year would go down in history as the year that caused the end to the grease pole. Needless to say the grease pole happened (largely) without incident and the tradition lives on. 

Q: When you gave your Queen’s convocation address in 2015, you told students that the single most important choice is the ability to have a choice. Can you explain this in more detail?

My first job after my MBA was with a global consulting firm. My daughter was under 18-months-old, and I was on the road five days a week. My first manager said to me that first Monday morning, “This is going to be tough – especially for you.” Do it for as long as you want, but DON’T mortgage yourself to this salary.” There is a profound difference in the person who has to go to work and a person who wants to go to work. After three years of being on the road, my daughter said to me one Sunday night, “Mommy, why can’t you just get a job in Toronto?” Make no mistake, for those years I had a clear objective – I wanted that job – so I did it.  I knew the trade-offs I was making and I made them. And, within a couple of weeks of that Sunday, I left. Because I could! Spend your time soliciting and cultivating real choice. It will make you better, because choice – real choice – is leverage.