Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Forty Under 40 Award winner Q&A: Catherine Chew

This year’s cohort of recipients will be celebrated at an event Feb. 7, 2024

BIV is recognizing Catherine Chew, CFO of Global Relay, and 39 other exceptional business leaders as part of the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards cohort.

Longer Q&As with each recipient are included in BIV's annual Forty Under 40 Magazine (out in print Dec. 11). Award winners will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 7, 2024.

This profile may have been edited for length and clarity.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

I successfully negotiated a four-bank syndication that secured growth capital and enabled Global Relay to purchase its Vancouver headquarters. I’m also extremely proud that, with the support of various people within our organization, I’ve been able to build and expand our finance and accounting team from just nine employees a decade ago to over 40 today.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

Leaving KPMG was tough because I learned a lot at the firm, and I was leaving a familiar place for a company (Global Relay) operating in an industry that was totally new to me. It was scary to step out of my comfort zone, but it was ultimately the right decision for me to make. I feel very fortunate to have been able to maintain those advisory relationships today.

How do you lead?

I strive to lead by example and expect high-quality work from others. I set people up for success through hands-on training – showing them how I’d approach a problem, then letting them give it a try, knowing that mistakes may happen along the way but that they can be managed. I nurture and trust, but I also ensure my mentees are using sound judgment when making decisions. I'm quick to offer constructive feedback to get us back on track. I've found that employees who feel accountable learn and take on more, which builds capacity through their autonomy.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned in business?

If you don’t have the right technical know-how, don’t be afraid to ask. As well, make sure you work on your soft skills. I used to think technical skills were everything. But in a role like mine, skills like diplomacy and tact are equally important, and adjusting your communication style to the person or group you're addressing is key to being well received.

Best piece of advice ever received?

Take a chance on people who are eager to support, grow and make a difference in your business. Though their experience and skills may not be a perfect match on paper, candidates with motivation and who are a cultural fit will work hard to ensure they do right by the people who believed in them and gave them a chance.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Ask more questions. Don’t be afraid to look naïve or stupid. Risk stumbling and falling down. People around you might look like they know what they are doing 100 per cent of the time, but they're likely just trying to find their way through life – just like you.

What's left to accomplish?

Everything! Global Relay’s goal is to achieve $1 billion in annual revenues in five years, if not sooner. We want to be the next billion-dollar Vancouver-owned tech company – with offices in the world’s most important financial centres. I’ll also be helping our CEO, Warren Roy, set up a foundation to protect B.C.’s marine coast life to honour his late wife, Shannon Rogers Roy, who was our president and my dear friend.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge?

My Global Relay family, beginning with our executive leadership – especially Warren Roy, Kelvin Ng and the late Shannon Rogers for their mentorship and support. Our finance and accounting team, notably Kevin Campbell, Crystal Wong, Edward Roodt and Raj Dhami, who operate at high levels and create operational efficiencies to scale our business. My husband Trevor and our son James for their unconditional love and support. My parents, in-laws and family, who are always there supporting me in my pursuit of career excellence. The staff at my son’s daycare, who ensure he's loved and well looked-after while his parents work.

Read Q&As with all 40 award recipients here. Tickets to the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 7 are now available.