2016 BC CEO Awards: CEO Awards highlight Vancouver’s best

Clear vision, strong mission, cohesive teams and perseverance are all hallmarks of this year’s winners, judges say

From the foam-capped waves of the Pacific to the snow-capped peaks of Whistler, from sequestered caverns of cloud servers to the hallowed halls of high-stakes investing, to the wet, cold streets of Vancouver where helping hands reach out to the needy, Business in Vancouver’s 2016 CEO awards once more celebrate the best of Vancouver’s business leaders.

“We had very strong nominees in every category, once again,” said Jane Peverett, corporate director at CIBC, Encana, Hydro One, NW Natural and Aegis Insurance and one of this year’s judges. Peverett said the nominees embody the goals of the awards.

“Celebrating business, and the outstanding leaders in business, provides inspiration for the rest of the business community,” she said.

She espouses the idea that “if you can see it you can be it,” noting that recognition such as the CEO awards helps others understand what is possible and opens their imaginations to foster dream-building.

Peverett was struck by the variety among the winners. “We have a fascinating blend of traditional industries and high-tech industries, and deciding between CEOs of such different businesses is a fascinating exercise.”

Nancy MacKay, CEO and Founder of MacKay CEO Forums, who launched the CEO Awards five years ago in partnership with BIV, aims to generate better leaders. She similarly recognized that CEOs are an important feature in Vancouver’s business landscape.

“Our BC CEO Awards winners are very successful business leaders and they are an inspiration to our B.C. business community,” she said.

In fact the winners offer a snapshot of Vancouver’s uniquely heterogeneous business character. They showcase how we work and play on our oceans and mountains, that our tech sector wields global influence, that our community’s financial acumen is formidable, and that the business community takes seriously its commitment to caring for the marginalized, the needy and those who deserve compassion.

Jonathan Whitworth, CEO of Seaspan and this year’s winner in the enterprise category, is one example of the city’s inextricable ties to the ocean. Under his leadership the company has become a local anchor for marine business and shipbuilding not just today but well into the future.

Debra Hewson, president and CEO of Odlum Brown and winner in the mid-market category, brought her company through the global financial crisis of 2008-09, much as David Brownlie, president and CEO of Whistler Blackcomb and winner in the large-company category, saw his organization through its own financial crisis during the 2010 Olympics.

In the small-company category, Gregory Malpass, CEO and enabler at Traction on Demand, is recognized for virtually reinventing customer relations and management using cloud-based software. “[He] completely reimagined [the] industry,” said Peverett.

Janet Austin, president and CEO of YWCA Metro Vancouver and winner in the not-for-profit category, has expanded her organization’s reach in its efforts to house, educate and advocate for women, children and families, offering a clear example of Vancouver’s appreciation for its non- and not-for-profit organizations.

Mike Cordoba, CEO at Empresario Capital, and one of this year’s judges, noted that though the winners’ achievements have launched them to the foreground, that should not obscure the praiseworthy business successes of all the nominees.

“There was a great selection of nominees,” Cordoba said. “That made it difficult to select the winners.”

He praised the quality of the submissions and said there was consistently strong vision, mission, culture and social responsibility within the companies led by the winners.

 “Successful leaders have a great plan, they create a great culture, they assemble a great team to execute the plan and then they give back to the community,” he said.

In particular, Cordoba said, this year’s winners showed a strong ability to carry their companies through tough times. It is a quality behind the success of many business leaders, he said.

The stories of successful business leaders and their companies offer the wider community a portal into their own potential for success, he added.

“It shows what exceptional leaders we have in B.C., shows other leaders examples of excellent business practices and it highlights some great businesses that we have that others might not know about.” 

Join us to celebrate this year’s honourees at the 2016 BC CEO Awards November 1, 2016, hosted at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info, visit www.biv.com/ceo.