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Business in Calgary 2019 – Leaders Awards

2019 Leaders Awards


Calgary’s economy encompasses many industries. From energy to health care, construction to hospitality, real estate to technology – an ever-expanding number of sectors propel the city forward, providing goods, services and employment to all Calgarians, through good times and bad. Populating these industries are thousands of small, medium and large businesses. And at the head of these businesses are leaders.  

By whatever name called – president, CEO, founder, boss – these leaders are tasked with a job that includes many things: having a vision, articulating and inspiring a vision, making (sometimes difficult) decisions, assembling a team, listening, collaborating, taking the fall, leading by example, among many other responsibilities. The role is daunting and certainly not for everyone.  

That is why great leaders – those who go beyond the basic job description and inspire others – are worthy of recognition and praise. Which is precisely the goal of the 2019 Leaders Awards.

In its 12th year, the Leaders Awards recognize exceptional Calgary businessmen and women who have led with purpose, integrity and strength, through the most recent economic turmoil (and in some cases, previous downturns as well), to create today’s thriving businesses. While each leader is unique in his or her own story, they all demonstrate the same commitment to and passion for their businesses.

“There is no mould or template that makes someone a leader,” offers returning judge Trevor Winkler, regional managing Partner at MNP. Winkler united with returning judge David Allwright, dean, Chiu School of Business, and new judge Faizel Poonja, managing director, ATB Business & Agriculture, to complete the task of sorting through numerous applications to decide on the final 20 award recipients. “To be a good leader you truly have to know and understand your team and be able to communicate effectively to your team. A leader also needs to empower and trust their team – support them through the journey – and carry oneself with absolute integrity.” 

Poonja agrees, “The way leaders lead is different. That said, a great leader is ethical, truthful and shows vulnerability. [They are also] great at listening. Great leaders listen to learn. In addition, strong leaders are able to inspire and bring out the best in people. They find a way to execute regardless of circumstance.”

The circumstances – in particular, Calgary’s economy – have been difficult for the past few years and, though a challenge to all businesses, have been overcome by this year’s recipients. “The downturn is a challenge for leadership; however, great leadership looks at challenges as opportunity,” Poonja says. “The cream rises to the top in the face of a difficult economy and this creates enormous opportunity for the right leader.”

“Scalability (both upsizing and downsizing) seems to be key for a lot of businesses these days,” adds Allwright. “Surviving in an economy that can contract significantly overnight means that flexibility is a competitive advantage.”

Financial sustainability, whether the applicant has driven change in their industry, and involvement in the industry and larger community were all components driving the judging criteria. “If there is one thing that stood out it would truly be the diversity of businesses in Calgary that you don’t hear too much about given the fact that we are an energy city,” Winkler says.

All 20 recipients were honoured at an awards gala held June 26.

Click Here to see more on this year’s recipients!