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Celebrating Womanhood: Radha Curpen, Vice Chair and Vancouver Managing Partner & National Leader

Monica Sethi Darpan, 16 Mar, 2024
  • Celebrating Womanhood: Radha Curpen, Vice Chair and Vancouver Managing Partner & National Leader

"We all face different barriers and experiences. Early on in my career, someone told me that I should be one of the boys if I wanted to succeed, and then I would be exposed to the best opportunities. While many would have given in, I did not, as it would compromise who I was and my upbringing, so I continued to lean into who I was. I continued to distinguish myself with my values."- Radha Curpen, Vice Chair, Vancouver Managing Partner, and National Leader of ESG Strategy at Bennett Jones LLP

In Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), Radha Curpen emerges as a distinguished force, weaving her legal prowess with a deep commitment to sustainability. Serving as the Vice Chair, Vancouver Managing Partner, and National Leader of ESG Strategy at Bennett Jones LLP, she stands at the forefront of ESG strategy development and co-leads the environmental practice group.

Curpen embarked on her journey in ESG long before it became a buzzword. Born in Mauritius and immigrating to Winnipeg, Manitoba, when she was 16, she delved into the environmental law landscape in the 1990s. Driven by a passion for bridging the gap between aspiration and reality, she recognized ESG as a transformative tool for decision-making, enabling firms to navigate complexities and future-proof their operations.

 Her educational journey, inspired by her father's encouragement to pursue law due to her natural inclination for advocacy, led her through various provinces and countries. From Winnipeg to Toronto and eventually to New York City, Curpen's adaptability and resilience in embracing change have been pivotal in her career. She is Francophone and practices law in both official languages, a unique attribute that distinguishes her in her field.

 The path to success, however, was challenging. Early in her career, Curpen faced the expectation to conform to a certain mould for success, a normative pressure she resisted. Her refusal to compromise her values and identity while navigating a male-dominated industry underscores her commitment to authenticity.

Despite the hurdles, Curpen's achievements resonate in her successful career trajectory, marked by changing provinces and countries multiple times. Her love for challenges and change has provided personal growth and resilience and shaped her ability to navigate diverse environments.

 For Curpen, the future of ESG lies in legal professionals taking a seat at the table, actively contributing to an area of both risk and opportunity. As the momentum for ESG grows, driven by public awareness and shareholder activism, she envisions a dynamic field that aligns with the sense of purpose younger generations seek.

 She advises the younger generation to "seek continuous learning, seek mentorship, and build credibility, which are the keystones of success for aspiring professionals. Embrace diverse experiences and acknowledge blind spots, and you'll build trust and engage meaningfully with your peers."

 In her quest for success, Radha Curpen maintains a daily routine rooted in mindfulness and continuous learning. Her vision extends beyond legal practice; she envisions the legal profession contributing significantly to the evolving landscape of ESG, nurturing positive relationships, and promoting a sustainable future for all.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered on your journey?

We all face different barriers and experiences. Early on in my career, someone told me that I should be one of the boys if I wanted to succeed, and then I would be exposed to the best opportunities. While many would have given in, I did not, as it would compromise who I was and my upbringing, so I continued to lean into who I was. I continued to distinguish myself with my values.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

I have managed to have a successful career despite changing provinces and countries several times. Change has been challenging, memorable and constant - and I have embraced it. Every time I had to adapt to new places, I've learnt about people, places, relationships, and connections. Change has helped me learn new things and given me the nerve and courage to do more. I love challenges and change. 

After living in many places, which cities are your favourite?

I love Vancouver; it's beautiful. What people like to recreate in other cities - water bodies, mountains, parks, we already have these things here. My second favourite place would be New York City - I love that place's energy, pace, and overall vibe. 

What would you advise those who feel inspired by your journey?

Learn as much as you can and then some. Become an expert. Have a clear outlook on your vision and what path you want to take. Put yourself out there. Seek those mentors and be an active mentee in return. Think about how you can be helpful to others. Over time, develop a bond and create a sense of peering. Also, build your credibility not just inside the organization but also outside the walls. Both will be noticed and complimentary.

What is your mantra for success?

Make sure you know that there are things you don't know. People's experiences in life are different from yours. These experiences colour their views. If you listen to them, you'll deal with your blind spots, and in doing so, you'll build trust and engagement and nurture positive relationships. 

Photo: Fahad Photo

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