Strategic leadership a strong focus this year at BC CFO Awards

First lifetime achievement honour bestowed

Seven of the province’s top financial leaders have been recognized with 2018 BC CFO Awards, including one who is being celebrated for his lifelong dedication to the field of finance.

Now in their eighth year, the annual awards are presented by Business in Vancouver and the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) to honour outstanding chief financial officers.

2018 BC CFO Awards winners:

Judy Leung, CFO, Westbank

John Hanna, CFO, Vecima Networks

Pamela Lee, CFO, Mr. Lube Canada

Tony Brooks, CFO and vice-president of entrepreneurship and commercialization, Genome British Columbia

Mary Falconer, senior vice-president, CFO and corporate secretary, Westminster Savings Credit Union

Cathy Imrie, CFO and senior vice-president, business, Vancouver Aquarium

John Crawford, interim president and CEO, former CFO, Pacific Blue Cross

Five judges reviewed 18 applicants, selecting the best in the following categories: large private, small public, small private, non-profit, publicly accountable, transformation agent and lifetime achievement.

New this year, the lifetime achievement award has been given to Pacific Blue Cross’ former CFO, John Crawford, currently the organization’s interim president and CEO.

“It was certainly an easy decision for the judging panel this year to conclude that [Crawford’s] contributions as a CFO and to the profession, including to the CPA organization,… over the years of his career are exemplary,” said Valerie Mann, partner at Lawson Lundell LLP, who has served as a judge in the awards for seven years.

Judges individually reviewed submissions using a ranking system and met later to make final selections as a group.

Criteria weighed included industry leadership, strategic decision-making abilities, ethics, financial reporting, sustainability and community initiatives such as board memberships.

Mann said each year attracts a high calibre of nominees, making the selection process challenging.

“It’s interesting, but for the most part, our individual assessments are very consistent, and what we end up discussing in our meeting are nominees that are very close to one another in our voting scheme,” she said.

Judges were largely looking for CFOs who are strong leaders.

“Where a CFO has been instrumental in leadership, that’s what catches your attention in the review,” explained Mann.

For William Hallett, the Vancouver Foundation’s vice-president of finance and operations, well-rounded individuals with relevant experience and education, and who give back to their communities, make the best CFOs.

Hallett, who participated as a judge for the last two years and was an award winner in 2016, said he was looking for “a variety of work experiences, prior recognition awards, good reference letters and a complete submission with sufficient information to make a judgment.”

This was Ballard Power Systems (TSX:BLDP) CFO Tony Guglielmin’s first time judging the awards.
Guglielmin, who won a transformation agent award last year, said he was searching for examples of strategic leadership.

“I was also looking for clear evidence of integrity and ethics, and candidates’ contribution to the profession and society overall,” he said.

Guglielmin said an increasingly important factor is how well CFOs can adapt to rapid technological change and associated risks with cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies.

“CFOs must stay current with these trends,” he said. “Another trend is the ever-increasing corporate governance requirements from boards. CFOs are spending increasing time and energy on board-related matters.”

Hugh Notman, managing director of CCC Investment Banking, and Michael Madsen, BDO Canada LLP’s international liaison partner and Vancouver office managing partner, also judged this year’s awards. •


Business in Vancouver and the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia will honour the province’s top CFOs at the BC CFO Awards gala dinner, being held June 7 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For more information or to register, go to