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In a new and ever-changing industry, EY alumna, Melissa Polak, says you need to get comfortable with uncertainty.

In brief 

  • EY alumna, Melissa Polak, discusses how getting the right experiences early in your career can set you up for success.
  • She shares how using the EY alumni network can help you keep on top of market trends and peer-to-peer connections.

When Melissa Polak left the EY organization to join a growing industry and build a new role as Vice President of Compliance, Risk and Assurance at Aurora Cannabis, she leaned into the experience she gained at EY and the people who helped her along the way.

She says: “When I joined Aurora and started up the internal audit function as well as the risk management function, I think that the skills that I retained from the EY organization were really foundational to knowing what it is that I need to be building out from a governance perspective and from an organizational design perspective.”

Melissa worked in consulting at EY and remembers her time there fondly. She keeps in touch with many of her colleagues for both personal and professional reasons. “It was great to be surrounded by people that are really smart, really passionate about what they do, constantly challenging the status quo.”

The skills that I retained from the EY organization were really foundational.

Working in a new market


Melissa left the EY organization to join a company working in a relatively new market. In an industry that’s constantly growing, she says she had to get comfortable with uncertainty: “It's a balancing act all the time. You do need to be operationally excellent, but in order to always be on the bleeding edge of what the market wants, or what new products are coming out, you do need to be okay taking some chances, and taking some risks.”


Melissa claims that the EY alumni network has become a great tool for her as she looks to stay on top of changes in the market. She often connects with other alumni in the sector for peer-to-peer conversations and receives thought leadership from the EY organization on some of the more technical guidance in the industry.


“After I left EY, it was really obvious to me that they still cared about how I was doing,” she says. That support has helped her grow in her career and provides the confidence she needs to excel in her new role.


“If I was to give career advice to others, my first piece of advice would just be to trust your gut, especially when you're in roles when you're hired to start something new,” Melissa says. “It can feel really daunting, but I always try to remember there's a reason they hired you, and so just lean into that and just trust the fact that you know what you're doing, or you'll know what you don't know.”

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    EY alumna, Melissa Polak, discusses how developing foundational skills early in your career can set you up for success, provide you with the confidence to take on risk and the insight to ask for help when you need it.

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