With more than 160 nominations, this year’s Business in Vancouver Forty under 40 awards drew submissions from the highest number of young business leaders to date.
The annual awards recognize B.C.’s most accomplished business leaders under the age of 40 working in private, public and non-profit sectors.
Five judges reviewed nominations to select the top 40 representing a variety of industries. Nominees stood out from the crowd with achievements in business, experience, innovation, vision, leadership and community involvement.
All of the judges were new to the process this year, except for Kirk LaPointe, BIV’s editor-in-chief and Glacier Media’s vice-president of editorial.
“We were really impressed again with the calibre of the nominees and the depth of the talent put forward for the award,” said LaPointe. “It was not easy to choose among them.”
Picking this year’s winners was tough due to the high number of nominees with different backgrounds and experiences, which sometimes led to “difficult moments and good debates amongst the judges,” according to 2015 award winner Cameron Burke.
“I was looking for people who make a difference, without applying rigid criteria that brought my biases into the process,” said Burke, PwC Canada’s managing director for deals and tech. “Whether they were professionals, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, non-profit execs, I was looking for nominees that were committed, had achieved obvious successes and were well-rounded.”
Tea Nicola, CEO and co-founder of WealthBar Financial Services Inc., said she enjoyed the judging experience and learning about the nominees.
“I guess what got to me the most is the high level of integrity in the award, which was really encouraging and motivating,” she said.
Nicola, who won a Forty under 40 in 2017, said she was looking for breadth of experience in each nominee.
“I would want to see engagement in different things, possibly different industries, varied education, interesting community involvement, striving for and achieving excellence in anything,” she said.
Stemcell Technologies’ director of immunology, research and development, Andy Kokaji, also won a Forty under 40 in 2017. While he found the judging experience “challenging” and time-consuming, Kokaji said he was looking for nominees who had ambition and drive to succeed while still supporting their peers and community.
“Sometimes we are fortunate to be recognized individually, but behind it all we all need support from others to make an impact,” he said.
A recipient of a Forty under 40 last year, Denise Williams said judging this year’s awards was an “honour.”
“The experience was fun but also pretty challenging,” said the First Nations Technology Council CEO. “There were a lot of applications to review and I really wanted to give them all the time and attention they deserved.”
Inspired by many of the nominees, Williams found the calibre of this year’s nominees to be “outstanding.”
“I was looking for well-rounded success and a sustained commitment to doing good work for people and communities,” she said. “Scoring people was challenging, especially when you want to ask questions or get clarification but can’t.”