To be a great leader when times are good is a challenge enough; to be a great leader when times are bad, ensuring that one’s business lives to see the return of better days, is a challenge worthy of praise. These are exactly the types of individuals the 2018 Leaders Awards aims to celebrate. In its 11th year, the Leaders Awards recognize Calgary’s business icons who have led their teams through the most recent economic malaise, only to emerge stronger than ever.
“What struck me this year was the durability of the businesses and industries that made it to the other side of this recession,” says David Allwright, dean of the Chiu School of Business at Bow Valley College and one of this year’s returning judges. “You’re looking at some industries that two or three years ago you might have wondered whether they would make it, and here they are. As the economy continues to grow, these are businesses that are going to thrive.”
Allwright is joined by fellow returning judges Trevor Winkler, regional managing partner at MNP LLP, and Myron Feser, vice president of business and agriculture at ATB Financial. The trio was tasked with sorting through the numerous Leaders Awards applications and narrowing the field down to 20 winners. Applicants came from a range of industries including technology, personal services, construction, real estate, oil and gas, and many others.
“Judging was difficult and at the same time a lot of fun,” says Feser. “It was difficult because of the large number of impressive nominations that display strong commitment and leadership. At the same time, it is a lot of fun to get together with Pat [Ottmann, publisher of Business in Calgary Magazine], Trevor and David to discuss leadership and Calgary as a whole.”
Judging criteria included financial sustainability, whether the applicant has driven change in their industry and involvement in the larger community. “What really stood out for me was the leaders’ passion,” says Feser. “First their passion and genuine caring for people; second, their passion for their business – the past and the future; and third, their passion for the community. All of the nominees do so much for their people, business and the community.”
Winkler agrees, adding that there are many characteristics that make a good leader, but a great leader must not be self-serving. “It’s not about themselves, but about the people and community that surrounds the leader.”
All the recipients, Winkler says, showed day-to-day involvement in operations, driving culture and adapting to change. “No two stories are ever the same,” he says, “but they are all truly engaged in their business and influencing others within their organization to share similar characteristics that drive effective leadership.”
Allwright believes there has been a change in the applicants’ attitudes, likely fuelled by their experiences during the recession. “The businesses that we looked at are taking a much more sober view of things and are a lot more level-headed,” he explains. “In the past, there were far too many businesses that relied on a booming economy to grow their business, rather than on a solid business plan. Nowadays we have businesses that don’t look at what the economy is doing; they run a good solid business first and foremost.”
All 20 recipients were honoured at an awards gala held June 27.
Click here to view the keepsake and winners pages.
Click here to view the winners videos.