How Humble Beginnings Drive Maureen Jensen

Written by Kelley Keehn

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

One of the most powerful and influential women in Canada, a dedicated inclusivity champion and a tireless mentor, is likely not a name you've ever heard of. And that's just fine with Maureen Jensen. Incredibly warm and witty, Maureen has blazed many trails for women and promoted inclusivity for the LGBTQ2S+ community as the first woman to lead the Ontario Securities Commission.

A Tireless Advocate for Gender Diversity

Maureen has been described by many as a fierce advocate for investor protection. She was instrumental in implementing Ontario's new "comply or explain" gender diversity disclosure rule, which required Canadian companies to be publicly accountable for gender diversity.

Although Maureen spent decades in the financial industry, championing more diligent regulation and protections for all Canadian investors, she began her professional career in geology. It started with a love affair for rock gathering in her youth. "I think I have eight or nine boxes of rocks," Maureen said. "My husband asked me to get rid of them during our last move."

From Humble Beginnings

Maureen's younger years were anything but easy or comfortable.

"Growing up in a small mining town was great, but it was hard on my parents," she said. "When I was only eight years old, my father passed away, leaving my mother and two younger siblings to financially fend for ourselves."

Maureen's mother, a strong- willed, resilient immigrant from Germany, handled their new life situation with grace and fortitude. Forced to sell their family home because she wasn't able to get approved for the mortgage renewal herself, Maureen's mother used the paltry proceeds to go back to school and become a history teacher. Her nursing experience wasn't recognized in Canada and she was determined to give her children the bright future they deserved.

Learning the Value of Hard Work

Young Maureen was left to help support not only herself at only eight years old, but to pitch in with caring for her younger sister and brother. She realized quickly that hard work was something her mother valued.

"It wasn't until my late teens that my mom told me about the meeting with her banker all those years back trying to renew the mortgage," recalled Maureen. "He told her she was still young and should focus on getting re-married. That infuriated her to no end."

Maureen took her mother's torch of tenacity and started earning and saving money at a young age. "We didn't have much of a financial cushion if anything went wrong, so I got a job as soon as I could. By 12 I was babysitting, and at 15 or 16, I was working at McDonald's to save for my schooling."

Teaching Her Children Financial Values

Today a mother of two adult sons, she works to help them understand the difference between saving and investing.

"I send them articles all the time," she said. "I still don't think they fully get it, but since they've been easing into investing, they're learning as they go."

Maureen's one investing regret is that she and her husband didn't get into the market soon enough themselves. "We were a geologist and a mining engineer working in the bush. We saved but didn't really understand the power of investing. I wish we would have got our money working for us sooner all those years ago and not just staying safe in a bank account. We get the value of that now!"

Making a Difference

Maureen has been a strong advocate for increased representation of women in leadership roles, mentoring many women through several organizations like Women Who Rock and Women in the Financial Industry.

Her latest passion, The Prosperity Project, is a new not-for-profit organization, supported by 64 women leaders and a woman founder, all seeking to advance the economic future of women in Canada.

Maureen's simple parting advice is the same as what she's offered to her two sons previously.

"Have fun with your money," she said. "But pay attention to it. Make your own coffee and eat at home."

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