It’s a question that regularly crops up around these awards: why haven’t we introduced a sub-category specifically for leaders in the non-profit and public sectors? The simple answer is that we don’t want to.
We established the Top 50 CEO awards with the goal of celebrating Atlantic Canada’s exceptional business leaders: people who are dedicated to growing their organizations and their community, who are at the forefront of their respective industries and who give generously of their time, energy and resources to charitable causes. Technically, they don’t even need to be CEOs – they just need to hold a position of comparable responsibility. Oh, and they must be based in Atlantic Canada.
We’ve strategically avoided any sub-setting of the Top 50 because we don’t want anyone thinking that the non-profit or public sector leaders selected to the list are only there because we had a quota to fill.
Leaders of health care facilities, publicly-funded research organizations and post-secondary institutions are required to have the same skill sets as their corporate counterparts: exemplary management skills, higher education, substantive life experience, and proven administrative abilities. They have to motivate staff, report to boards of directors, increase fi nancing (or deal with uncontrollable budgetary shortfalls) and find ways to grow their organizations. If anything, their jobs can be even more stressful than those in the private sector because of the increased challenge to think entrepreneurially and act innovatively in often restrictive environments.
But don’t take our word for it. Over the following pages, you’ll find samples of what leaders in this sector achieve on a regular basis, achievements which we at Atlantic Business Magazine are proud to recognize.
Synopsis: In addition to his role as president and vice-chancellor of UNB, Dr. Campbell teaches in the department of mathematics and statistics while also maintaining an active research career and supervising graduate and post-doctoral students. During his tenure, UNB has enhanced its capacity to support entrepreneurship and innovation through the establishment of the Pond-Deshpande Centre. The university was also named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers in 2013 and 2014.
The challenge: “The university is at a critical juncture in its history. Growing competition for students, a constrained environment for government funds for both core funding and new initiatives, and the challenge of making university education more relevant in the face of changing social, economic and global realities mean that the role of private funding will take on a growing importance.”
The opportunity: “The University of New Brunswick’s proposed fundraising campaign represents a critical opportunity to use private funds to ensure the quality, leadership, financial integrity and competitiveness of the university. As president, I am the university’s chief fundraiser and will lead the cultivation and solicitation of alumni, corporate and foundation donors, and government agencies, by securing gifts that will ensure the success of the fundraising campaign.”
Synopsis: The CEO of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF) has successfully established a vibrant health research culture that helps to attract and retain top talent. In addition, she recently established a ground-breaking program (REAL) that addresses the knowledge needs of decision- makers in the Nova Scotia health system. Ms. Connell was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in the Public Sector for 2013.
At issue: “2013 saw significant changes regarding how federal agencies will support the research enterprise. Many of these changes are projected to have a negative impact on smaller provinces’ ability to access funding through competitions.”
Her response: “In order to understand the changes and the potential impact provincially, NSHRF generated (four documents) which have been shared nationally with our sister agencies, many of whom have communicated their usefulness for planning purposes.
To further the understanding of these changes … we hosted the Summit on the State of the Health Research Enterprise and conducted a provincial consultation to receive input from the broader health research enterprise. This resulted in a new initiative to increase the competitiveness of social scientists, health services and health policy researchers; and enhancements to one of NSHRF’s competitive programs.”
Synopsis: As the president and CEO of the IWK Health Centre Foundation, she works with a “passionate” team and Board of Trustees to achieve over $17 million in contributions annually, over 80 per cent of which was raised in the largest private health care campaign in Atlantic Canada.
Hardest part of the job: “Most people do not understand how hard it is to run a non-profit and raise the kind of money we do. Everyone has different ideas on how that should be done, everyone has different expectations and to balance all of that and still chart a course that will bring even more success can be very difficult at times. I believe in listening, in building relationships and creating partnership opportunities.”
Five-year plan: “We need to be more innovative, bolder about our accomplishments, we need to work with more companies as the landscape is changing as more corporations understand it isn’t enough just to do business and make a profit in the community you reside in. … we will be a social profit organization leading the way with innovative solutions to support world class research and care right here in the Maritimes. We will be a world leader in this field.”
Synopsis: Since becoming president and vice-chancellor of Mount Allison University in 2006, major accomplishments have included: increasing enrolment by 30 per cent; balancing the budget for eight consecutive years; maintaining a financial environment with no external debt; and building endowment to over $120 million (the largest per capita in Canada).
At issue: “This year, we have faced a $1 million revenue shortfall.”
His response: “Historically, universities would deal with this by cancelling courses and increasing class size. We did not have to do that this year as a result of sound decisions in previous years. We created an off-budget fund that we grow every year to deal with temporary enrolment and revenue shortfalls. This fund can handle up to three years of shortfalls. Of course, the challenge for the last few years has been to defer expenditures to create this fund – notwithstanding pressures to spend on new and worthy causes and issues. …The challenge this year has been to not overspend in the present, but rather to make sound fi scal decisions that will ensure our capacity to maintain services in the future. This has required a fairly tough set of decisions on hiring, expenditures, commitments and so on, but I believe we have developed an institutional culture that understands this.”
Synopsis: CEO of the Fathers of Confederation Memorial Trust (operates as Confederation Centre of the Arts), a national cultural institution and memorial complex in Charlottetown, P.E.I. In 2012/13, she raised $7 million for renovations and more than $2 million for endowment in the Centre’s Foundation. Previous careers included: CEO of her own carbon consulting company in Alberta and CEO of an oil and gas startup company in Perth, Australia.
Her gamble: “I have consistently pursued positions in industries that have challenged my knowledge base. This always requires me to seek information and assistance … and to ask questions, sometimes the same ones over and over again.”
Her reward: “When I took over the role of CEO at Cool Energy in Australia, I knew little about the thermodynamics of natural gas processing. However, I forced myself to understand and learn how a natural gas plant operates. I did this through endless study and questioning. I felt it was my responsibility as a leader of such a company to understand the technology. I have done this in every new job I have taken on and it is extremely rewarding … just as it is now as I lead a nationally-mandated, world-class arts, heritage and culture organization.”
Synopsis: Prior to her current position as president and vice-chancellor of Mount Saint Vincent University, Dr. Lumpkin’s varied academic career took her from Wayne State University, to the University of Windsor, to Royal Roads University and Huron University College. Throughout it all, she has been actively engaged in women’s studies, in advocacy on behalf of women’s issues and in promoting the role of women in higher education.
Five-year plan: “We will have opened our new McCain Centre, currently under construction … We will continue to adapt and refi ne our academic and co-curricular programs to meet student interests and needs. We will be engaged in a number of collaborative projects with our sister institutions in Nova Scotia. We will live out our commitment to accessibility, with robust numbers of Aboriginal, African-Nova Scotian and fi rst-generation students, as well as mature and non-traditional students. We will also build on our commitment to the advancement of women and social justice, in part through the work of our new Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice.”
Core strengths: “We’re confi dent that nurturing a diverse student body with representation from all types of backgrounds will be key to our success and allow us to continue to play an important role as a talent magnet for Atlantic Canada.”
Synopsis: The president and CEO of Holland College oversees the delivery of more than 65 full-time programs across Prince Edward Island, as well as external relationships with governments, the community and the private sector. He received a B.A. and B.Ed. from Mount Allison University, as well as an M.Ed. and Ph.D. from the University of Alberta.
At issue: “At the beginning of 2013, a union attempted to unionize one of our non-unionized groups without consultations with College management or the affected employees. …The challenge was further exacerbated by labour laws which prevented us from sharing some information directly with the employees.”
His response: “We were able to convince the union to withdraw their action and let the employees decide by a vote as to whether they wished to be represented by a union or not. In the end, the employees chose not to be represented by the union, and the College has subsequently been able to work with our staff towards providing improvement in benefi ts (e.g. salary, sick leave, vacation, etc…). Because of the effort of working through this process, we believe that our relationship with this employee group is actually stronger and our subsequent efforts will serve to increase employee satisfaction.”
Synopsis: Since being appointed president and CEO of Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation in 2004, Steve Winter has overseen signifi cant investments in the crown corporation’s technologies, store replacements, upgrades, and staff training. As a result, sales have grown from $131.1 million in 2004 to $234.7 million in 2013.
Biggest accomplishment: “We are being recognized by our peers across the country as a retailer that delivers best practices. Our provincial counterparts in liquor jurisdictions across the country have taken notice of our continued success, and as a result, NLC is now perceived as being a model in the national industry.
In 2012, we were recognized by the Employers’ Council of N.L. as its Employer of Distinction. I consider this a signifi cant accomplishment for a public sector employer to be recognized by a private sector organization!”
Hardest part of the job: “Working for the provincial government certainly has positives, but the bureaucracy moves slowly and sometimes not at all. This is frustrating when you are trying to do the right thing for your employees but red tape, procedures and strange policies stand in the way. Often getting the attention of the right person can resolve an issue, but that too is easier said than done. The answer is patience, but not too much!”