PROFILE: To the top of her field

Posted on November 22, 2017

Update March 16, 2018: Ms Turcke has been named COO of the NFL.

November 22, 2017: Mary Ann Turcke, BSc(Eng)’88, MBA’97, has so far had a career trajectory that might best be described as stellar. She has worked as an engineer, consultant, and senior executive across large organizations in several sectors. Perhaps most notably, she served from 2005 as a senior manager at Bell Canada, rising to President of Bell Media in 2015. Here at Queen's, she sits on the advisory boards for the Smith School of Business and for the Inspiring Greatness Campaign for Queen’s Engineering.

Earlier this year, she moved to Los Angeles to tackle a new role as President, Digital Media and NFL Network for the National Football League.

“Every time I go back to Queen’s I’m grateful,” says Turcke. “I’m grateful that I went there, that it was what it was for me. It was a fantastic experience. I wear a Queen’s hoodie around LA and often get stopped on the street by alumni. It feels good when that happens.”

It’s been a long road since her undergrad days at Queen’s but Turcke says her education as a civil engineer is the solid foundation upon which she continues to build her career.

Mary Ann Turcke

SOLID FOUNDATION: "Engineering gave us a really good approach for working together to take problems apart and build workable solutions," says Queen's engineering alumna, Mary Ann Turcke.

“When I look at anything we’re trying to solve – whether it’s watching the marketing people working to solve pricing dynamics, or analyzing big data to prove or disprove our hypotheses – it’s all quantitative. It’s all analysis. For me, that’s the undergrad I took. Engineering gave us a really good approach for working together to take problems apart and build workable solutions.”

Today about 23 percent of graduating Queen’s engineering students are women. That number is a lot higher than it used to be – an increase Turcke credits largely to her friend, former dean Kimberly Woodhouse – but it’s still conspicuously low compared with some other fields

“I don’t quite know how to get around that,” says Turcke. “It might be that high-school students applying to university have a better understanding of business as a career than they do of engineering as a career. I don’t know if engineering schools are as deliberate about explaining what an engineering education is and where it can lead. I believe business schools are competing harder to get the best Canadian students. It’s important because things have not moved as far as they should have for women, not just in engineering but also in business.”

To engineering students who wonder how best to leverage their education, Turcke advises each to choose their own road.

“For me there was no grand master plan,” she says. “Just go where it looks like it’s going to be fun and where you’re going to learn something. Don’t mortgage yourself to your job, so if you need to move laterally or even move down in salary for a bit to get to where you want to be, you’re prepared to do that. You have to cultivate as many open doors at one time as you possibly can.”