Alfred Wong

Forty Under 40 Winner 2016: Director, Asia Pacific Sales, Ballard Power Systems Inc., Age 39

If the clean-technology industry were a physical activity, it would be more of a long endurance run rather than a sprint, says Alfred Wong.

As such, it’s taken 37 years for Ballard Power Systems to put about 150 hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered buses on the road.

But after spending his entire 16-year career at the Burnaby company, Wong said it’s clear to him Ballard is picking up the pace in the clean-tech race.

“Last year we signed a deal to look at putting 300 buses in one city, which is going to be a deployment that’s double the size of what we’ve ever done,” said Wong, Ballard’s director for Asia Pacific sales.

It’s not often people will stick with one company from the time they get out of university until just before they turn 40.

But Wong feels that his mission won’t be done until the company’s fuel cells are used on more roads across the world.

“We know that the technology and the company can do great things, but at the same time we had challenges in terms of cost and market adoption,” he said, adding the additional business coming from China over the last year and a half has been a boon for Ballard.

While Wong now focuses on the commercial side of Ballard, he got his start with the company as a mechanical engineer.

During the mid-2000s he saw the company accelerating its transition from research and development into commercialization.

That’s when Wong realized it would be the right time to head to Simon Fraser University to earn his master of business administration in management of technology.

“Going back to business school was always something that was in my plans,” he said. “It worked out well that the company was going in that particular direction.”

He added that time management was a challenge when he was working a full-time job and studying part time. But it also afforded Wong the opportunity to be the “first guy on the ground” when opening up new markets in Asia.

“My career shift was tied to the evolution of Ballard.”

Join us to celebrate the 2016 Forty under under 40 Awards January 25, 2017 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit