Nathalie Megann is the rare IRO who has looked at clouds from both sides – literally. While completing her education, she worked as a flight attendant on the now defunct Air Atlantic, a regional feeder to Canadian Airlines International that flew to the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, and Ontario. Today, she is Director of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at Chorus Aviation Inc. in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. “Being a flight attendant was fun, and it gave me a good perspective on the operational side of our business,” she says.
When asked how she made the leap from flight attendant to IRO, Megann laughs: “As I was nearing graduation, the CEO [of Air Atlantic] was on one of my flights. I told him I was graduating with my second degree in public administration, and he said: ‘Public relations? We could use someone like you.’ And my career started from there.”
Then a recent graduate of Dalhousie University with a B.A. in political science and an advanced major in English, Megann learned public relations largely through ‘on the job training,’ and eventually moved to Air Nova, which later was one of the five regional carriers that constituted Jazz Aviation. Jazz went public as an income fund in 2006, and Megann became its first IRO. In 2010, when Chorus Aviation was created as a holding company for Jazz, Megann again stepped up to the new challenges involved in her evolving IR role. Today, Chorus has 4,200 employees and flies more than 720 daily flights to 71 destinations in North America.
Without exaggeration, Megann can say: “Aviation is in my blood.” Her French Canadian father left Quebec to start a charter company called Newfoundland and Labrador Air Transport. At its heyday, Megann’s father owned more than 30 airplanes, with a fleet that included float planes (DeHavilland Beavers) and executive charter planes (Piper Navajos and Beech 99s).
Learning the IR Ropes
About a decade ago, Megann realized that she had to set a long-term career development path to ensure she continued to track towards being a leading IR practitioner. Megann began enrolling in CIRI seminars and investor relations and finance courses at the Richard Ivey School of Business.
Deeply committed to professional development, in 2013 Megann was in the second group to complete her Certified Professional in Investor Relations (CPIR) designation. “I absolutely loved the program, and took away something meaningful from every module we covered,” says Megann, noting that she studied everything from securities law to finance.
In Megann’s experience, continuous professional development, transparency and a proactive approach to communications are the hallmarks of a good IRO. “You must be responsive to the market and to your investors,” she says. “I return calls as soon as I’m able. And even if the company doesn’t have all the answers yet, I make sure investors are informed of our progress. You cannot underestimate the value of a direct connection with an investor.”
Chorus Aviation has 60% retail ownership, with the vast majority of investors based in Canada. Seven analysts currently follow Chorus, and Megann leads the corporate strategy of strengthening and disseminating the company’s story even more broadly within the institutional community. “We’d like to see our institutional shareholder base grow, so we’re targeting institutions we’d like to see come on board with us,” she explains.
Outside of work, Megann enjoys entertaining friends at home and traveling overseas. Recent memorable trips include a two-week cruise in Southeast Asia and a four-day visit to London. She also plays golf and likes downhill skiing.
Megann and her husband, Jim, spend free time with Marty, a Coton du Tulear, a breed of small dog that originated in Madagascar. Megann’s husband, Jim, is CEO of a publicly traded gold company called Stockport Exploration – and so he, too, is deeply concerned with finding ways to attract new investors.
“Jim and I can both talk about what we do at work and learn from each other’s disciplines. We do tend to bounce ideas off one another,” she concludes. “I feel really fortunate.”