Cathy Hume: Proving her worth

Published: 09/03/2013

20 February 2009

By Emily Roberts, HighGrade

A MOVE from stockbroking into the industrial relations arena has proved a successful career transition for Cathy Hume, and also one that was perhaps her destiny. As head of a Toronto-based investor relations firm, Hume has closely followed in the footsteps of her mentor father, who founded his own resources company and was closely involved with the lobbying for flow-through share incentives for the Canadian exploration sector.

Hume is the CEO of CHF Investor Relations, which provides investor relations services to clients, including many in the mining industry. She heads the company with her husband, managing director Ottavio Cavalcanti.

Hume said her path to the investor relations industry was a straightforward one.

“The brokerage industry was where I started my career path to IR,” Hume told HighGrade. “I was a broker for 11 years in Toronto. The transition to IR was an easy one because I had all the skills and contacts needed to be an effective IR practitioner.

“By speaking the same language that brokers do when they are considering new investment opportunities, I was able to show prospective clients what an asset I’d be to their cause. Plus, I had a specialisation of sorts in mining stories that enabled me to target mining companies as clients.”

Her broking career included time with Deacon Capital Corporation and Richardson Greenshields of Canada before moving into Kieran & Co, an investor relations consultancy. Hume, and later her husband, eventually bought into the company and renamed it CHF (Cavalcanti Hume Funfer).

“Moving into IR after brokerage was a great career move which allowed me to differentiate myself from those I had been working amongst while still maintaining and building contacts in the financial/investment industries, and it clearly allowed me to shine brighter,” Hume said.

She is passionate about building a strong and positive attitude among her staff, and she is constantly encouraging employees to get the most out of their jobs. “The biggest challenge is getting senior people to be ‘rainmakers’ of CHF, bringing in new initiatives and new business all the time,” she said. “We strive to overcome this by creating more opportunities for staff to join pitch meetings with prospective clients. Recognising how different skill sets and experiences of others can contribute positively to my firm, and reduce clashes at work. We’ve built a very positive atmosphere at CHF amongst our team.”

The current financial crisis has not left CHF infallible. But Hume and her staff are focused on innovative ways to ensure clients maintain their IR agenda.

“When clients look at IR as purely a line in their budget, CHF is continuously challenged to prove our worth, in bad times as well as good,” Hume said. “Everyone in IR is feeling the effects of the economic downturn and the coming recession, so CHF is promoting creative options to our existing and prospective clients to keep them on track with a consistent IR message and an outreach program that can take advantage of the opportunities that arise when so many of their peers are ducking for cover.

“For CHF, our next opportunities lie in making full use of expertise as a global presence and nurturing friendly associations with non-competing IR service groups (print and web designers; news agencies; and non-profits) that can make positive connections and contributions to CHF and our clients.”

Hume graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) in 1974 from the University of Guelph, Ontario. Her post-graduate work “eventually got my feet wet in insurance business but moved out after four years since the rewards didn’t match the work I put in well enough”. She began in the stockbroking industry in 1980.

Hume nominates her father, H Douglas Hume for “influencing me both personally and professionally” and her husband and business partner “who takes care of the money issues while I do the client work and IR” as her main mentors. Hume’s father founded Nuinsco Resources, formerly New Insco Mines, and was well recognised for his ability to secure finance for the company’s projects (including the large sulphide copper deposit in Hebecourt Township, Quebec) often in very difficult market conditions. Along with his friend Ed Thompson, Hume’s father was instrumental in lobbying for flow-through share investment incentives for the Canadian exploration sector, and he was the vice president and then president of Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) from 1981-85.

Hume was also involved with PDAC, holding a director’s position in 1986-90. She is also a member of the Canadian Women in Mining network, through which she is currently involved in The Townships Project, a micro-lending initiative to help South African small business owners – primarily women – strive towards independence. The network is aiming to raise $C250,000 by next month to benefit this cause. In collaboration with the fundraising effort, the WIM network has also organised a Meet the Mining Mogul contest which involves the winner having a one-hour session with entrepreneurs Frank Giustra (CEO of Fiore Financial), Rob McEwan (Goldcorp founder) and Eric Sprott (Sprott Securities founder) to talk about anything from the current financial market to personal career advice. Winners will be announced on March 3 at the PDAC conference.

Hume says being involved in worthy causes such as The Township Project not only helps much needed people but is also a great way for networking opportunities by mixing with women who are also passionate about fulfilling their career goals and volunteer work. “Being exceptional in one’s field can provide more visibility for women and thus encourage promotion,” Hume said. “The Women in Mining group, for example, has gained great publicity through charitable works and other volunteerism. Taking on causes like breast cancer and micro-lending in South Africa will demonstrate that busy career women can also find, or make, time for worthwhile causes.”

Hume also offers this advice to younger women.
“Find several great mentors who have accomplished things you admire and are known in the mining field; volunteer with PDAC, CIM or other mining organisations (committee work will get you networking with a good crowd); and discover what area is the most interesting to you and try to wrap a career around that. Then you will never ‘work’ a day in your life.”

This article first appeared in HighGrade