Sometimes success looks easy. But in tumultuous times, the obstacles can seem overwhelming. The eighth annual selection of Canada's Top 40 Under 40 demonstrates that truly outstanding innovators always rise to a challenge.
Once again, the honorees were selected by a panel of 29 business and community leaders (see page 86) assembled by The Caldwell Partners International, the first and largest executive search firm in Canada. Caldwell compiled a preliminary list of candidates from more than 1,400 nominations, a record. The panel then rated the finalists on six criteria: vision and leadership, innovation and achievement, community involvement, impact and strategy for growth.
The honorees come from a variety of fields, and from across the country. They include London, Ont., physicist Ravi S. Menon who's applying his expertise to brain research by using highly advanced magnetic resonance technology; Kit Dalaroy, a mergers and acquisitions specialist with BCE Inc. who led stock and bond issues that raised billions even after the company suffered huge setbacks in early 2002; and Dr. Samantha Nutt, co-founder of War Child Canada, which helps children in war-torn countries overcome the horrors of battle.
To get a more complete perspective, we asked the Top 40 to name their role models-family members were cited most often. Even the most worldly and accomplished people are inspired by those closest to them. To nominate someone for next year's Top 40, phone 1-800-688-5540 or visit http://www.top40award-canada.org.
Samantha Nutt, 33
Executive Director and Co-Founder, War Child Canada, Toronto
"There's a joke about me," says Nutt. "I have more degrees than commonsense." She does have a lot of degrees-a BArts Sc and an MD from McMaster University, as well as graduate degrees from the University of London and the University of Toronto. Plenty of commonsense too. After witnessing the effects of war firsthand while working for UNICEF in Burundi, Somalia and Liberia, she co-founded War Child Canada in 1999 to help battle-affected children. "What most of the programs boil down to is just letting kids be kids," says Nutt. Recent projects include HIV education in Ethiopia and providing supplies to a pediatric hospital in Iraq. To help raise funds, Nutt cold-called then-MuchMusic vice-president Denise Donlon in 1999 (Donlon is now president of Sony Music Canada). That led to benefit concerts featuring performers such as The Tragically Hip and Rascalz, which have raised more than $250,000. There is also a new Peace Songs compilation CD from Sony and BMG Music Canada.
Class Conscience "I was always the kid in the class who would stand up and say, 'That's not right.
That's not fair.' I was always the really annoying one."
Role Model Denise Donlon. "She has this attitude like, 'I'm the most popular girl in school and I'm inviting you to my party.' She just commands a room."
Borys Chabursky, 35
President and Founder, Strategic Health Innovations, Toronto
SHI was a glimmer in Chabursky's eye four years ago. Now it is one of Canada's largest life-sciences consultancies, with clients on three continents. He sits on biotech advisory boards for Canadian companies, governments and other organizations, as well as boards in Austria and Singapore. Much of his and SHI's work involves finding venture capital for biotech start-ups-more than $143 million since 1999.
Our Problem "Canada exports ideas and purchases back products. Biotechnology is no different than natural resources-we're selling logs and buying furniture. However, we have the capability of both developing the concept and commercializing its outcome."
Home and Away "I have a map marked with all the places I've been in the past 18 months. My girlfriend abhors it, but Air Canada must love me. I could be their frequent flier of the year."
Role Models Joe Rotman, John Evans, Calvin Stiller and Ken Knox. "These are the giants and the catalysts of the industry. Their drive, commitment to excellence, integrity and wisdom serve as examples to all."
Kevin Kimsa, 37
President and COO, Avista Software Corp., Toronto
Kimsa's career timing has been uncanny. In 1993, he co-founded Solect Technology Group, an internet software company. In 2000, Amdocs Inc. bought Solect for $1.2 billion (U.S.), turning more than 50 of Solect's 400 employees who were shareholders into instant millionaires. In 2001, Kimsa founded Casero Inc., which provides software to broadband operators. Last year, he founded Avista, which produces ticket-management software. He is also co-owner of the Ottawa Renegades football team (CFL) and Toronto Rock Lacrosse Club (NLL).
Sharing Kimsa has been a financial donor to St. Michael's Hospital and the Young People's Theatre in Toronto, and the University of Waterloo. "I can do better for society right now by working and creating wealth than by putting in time at a local shelter, for example. My non-career objectives are to keep on putting things back into the community, and eventually stop working and devote more of my time to the community."
Role Model Houston internet billionaire Mark Cuban. "I admire him for the foresight and dedication he channelled toward business ventures, and the ultimate successes he realized."
Mark Ram, 37
President and CEO, Markel Insurance Co. of Canada, Toronto
Ram has transformed Markel into Canada's most profitable long-haul trucking insurer in a turnaround that could be an MBA case study. The son of a Montreal stockbroker who "ripped companies apart at the dinner table," Ram was educated at McGill University and the Richard Ivey School of Business. After working for four years for Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., the largest Canadian-owned insurance group, Fairfax chairman Prem Watsa put Ram in charge of the worst company in the group: nearly insolvent Markel. Ignoring comments about his age-Ram was just 28-he replaced most of the employees over the next 18 months and began rebuilding. Annual revenues have increased from $53 million to $175 million. By the end of 2001, Markel was a top performer in Watsa's insurance portfolio.
Role Model "My father and his advice. He always taught me to be able to look at myself in the mirror. 'Don't sacrifice your standards, your ethical and personal integrity, for pure profit.'"
Gerry Smith, 38
President and CEO, Changepoint Corp.,
Richmond Hill, Ont.
Smith received a hugely symbolic award last summer, when Microsoft Corp. bought $8 million worth of his company's professional-services automation software. "To get the best-known software company in the world to select your application as one of their core tools is a tremendous feeling," he says. Raised in Hamilton, Smith began his career as a mechanical engineer in the early '90s. He noticed his employer had chaotic billing operations that had trouble tracking how long each engineer worked for a customer. Smith co-founded Changepoint in 1992 to help automate the tracking of employee labour. Today more than 350 companies around the world use Changepoint's software, which allows firms to track the activities of thousands of employees and allocate their time more efficiently.
Growing Up "My biggest challenge lately has been managing the company's transition from a small to a medium business.
I can't just hop on a plane to deal with every customer issue any more, because we have so many customers."
Role Models "Companies like SAS [a Seattle-based business intelligence software company] They've stayed private very successfully. They're a billion-dollar company."
Paul Soubry Jr., 40
President, Standard Aero Canada, Winnipeg
Standard Aero is the world's largest independent repair and overhaul service for small gas turbine engines for airplanes.
Soubry joined the company in 1985. Until then, its biggest client by far was the Canadian military. But Soubry capitalized on the rise of regional airlines in the early '90s; they used smaller planes than the international carriers. Maintenance and service for those airlines now account for about 30% of Standard Aero's Canadian sales of about $240 million (U.S.).
Role Model "My father. My perception of a hero isn't someone we admire from a distance, but someone we consistently learn from over time. He came to Canada when he was 20 with $50 in his pocket and worked his way up from a sales clerk to the president of one company-after 20 years-and then worked for another company as president for 20-plus years. In good times and bad, he never wavered in his drive, morals, ethics and vision. Then he retires, at 65, from a paying job and invests the next eight years of his life working, darn near full-time, chairing boards of directors for a hospital and for a university-just because he feels it's important to give back to the community that gave him a chance."
Simon Boag, 37
President and Managing Director, GM Argentina, Buenos Aires
As president of CAMI Automotive Inc., an auto plant in Ingersoll, Ont., owned jointly by Suzuki and GM, Boag helped employees cut more than $600 from the cost of producing each Chevrolet Tracker XL SUV. "The thing I'm most proud of was some of the people and groups I've worked with who have taken on projects they didn't think were possible and made them possible," he says. "We've done some really neat things, because I've been lucky to work with some really neat people." Now he's taking over GM's operations in Argentina, as well as Uruguay and Paraguay. All three countries have been hit by serious economic turmoil, and many consumers have seen their personal wealth shrink by about two- thirds. Yet there are seven major carmakers in the region, most with roughly the same market share.
The CHALLENGE "As the market comes back, how do you gain market share while maintaining profitability? It's going to be hugely competitive."
Role Model Former General Electric Co. chairman Jack Welch. "The best thing he wrote was the opening comments in his last annual report.
I have a copy of it here."
Tye S. Farrow, 39
Partner, Farrow Partnership Architects Inc., Toronto
From 1992 to 1998, Farrow was a director and then a partner in his father's firm, Dunlop Farrow Architects. Hoping to bring a more humanistic feel to institutional design,he co-founded a new firm in 1998. The company uses flourishes like exposed wood and skylights to make health-care facilities less alienating. Current projects include the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital and the Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ont.
Classical Thinking "The Greeks tied together the idea of healing the body, the spirit and the mind. We've sort of gone back to the future on that idea."
Game Theory "The best part of the job is taking somebody's program or needs and transforming them into something that they hadn't imagined could exist. That part is spectacular. In a lot of ways, it's a chess game, and what you need to do is figure out where you're going, and not block angles when things change."
Role Model "I admire Larry Wayne Richards [dean, faculty of architecture, landscape and design, University of Toronto]for his success at instilling in the larger university community and the city of Toronto the importance of the built environment."
James O'Sullivan, 40
Managing Director, Head of Canadian Relationship Management, Scotia Capital Inc., Toronto
O'Sullivan has a degree in law and business from York University's Osgoode Hall Law School and Schulich School of Business. He joined Scotia McLeod in 1990 as an associate for corporate finance. He quickly worked his way up and was a leader in the formation of Scotia Capital in 1999, an amalgamation of the bank's corporate banking and investment banking divisions.
More than money O'Sullivan says a warm handshake is the best way to thaw a bank's reputation. "Great relationships, to a certain extent, are always personal.
I have individuals who are charged with getting close to this CEO or that CFO, and you know what? It's not about bank-to-corporate-Canada, it's about person to person."
The Work-Family Balance "It's a bit easier in the last few years, since I took on this job. Clients, of course, can call you at any hour and any day to see them. But since taking on a more managerial role, I would say I have reasonable control over the work-family balance."
Role ModelS Too many to mention. But "there are three characteristics I admire most in great people: They have all built great careers, strong families and they all find time to serve their communities."
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, 32
Principal Investigator of the Hospital Report Project and Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto
Brown grew up in London, Ont., "and then I went to college"-Harvard, actually, where he graduated magna cum laude-"and then I went to university"-Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar-"it was okay, I guess." He moved to New York in 1996, co-founding a health-care consulting firm with offices on Park Avenue. Brown returned to Ontario in 1998 to join Hospital Report Project.
He and his team of 35 researchers have developed a scorecard for hospitals and health-care systems. The project measures financial performance, patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes, management investment and innovation in Ontario hospitals. The results are posted at http://www.hospitalreport.ca.
Making the Grade "We're thinking about what is acceptable and what is exceptional. We need to reward the people who are doing well and help the people who aren't."
Role Model "My father. He is a doctor who worked his hardest for years to provide good quality care. The example my father and doctors and nurses like him set are why I'm here."
William Ghali, 36
Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research, University of Calgary, Calgary
Ghali is a doctor who is trying to monitor entire health-care systems, not just individual patients. He says it's easy to develop a grading system, but much harder to make those grades mean anything. In 1998, for example, he and his colleagues published a national report card on aspects of heart surgery. "Many of the indicators of quality [in the health-care system]are actually quite good," he says, but "there's no question that there's room for improvement." For example, he says that the media focus on waiting times for high-tech care, such as diagnostic imaging or cancer treatment, is justified because those delays may be harming patients. Proposed improvements have often been enmeshed in politics, but Ghali says the first step is careful study and measurement before the policymakers get involved.
Role Model Mark Moskowitz, Ghali's mentor at Boston University. "It was a devastating loss when he passed away [from cancer] He was scientifically so solid and a wonderful individual in multiple dimensions-how he balanced family with work, how he showed tremendous respect for people around him. Just a great person to watch in the way he worked."
Graham S. Lee, 38
President and CEO, RG Properties Ltd., Vancouver
Through his father, Robert, a developer, Lee was introduced at an early age to West Coast developers such as Jack Poole and Nelson Skalbania. Lee started RG Properties as a class project in his last year of commerce studies at the University of British Columbia. Half the business is dedicated to conventional commercial development. The other half develops multiuse community centres and other sport and recreation facilities in partnership with municipalities. The company's biggest project to date is Skyreach Place, a 6,000-seat multipurpose entertainment venue in Kelowna, B.C., that opened in 1999. It has hosted concerts by the likes of Elton John and Rod Stewart.
The company's 2002 revenues exceeded $28 million.
Community Thinking "We definitely look around at what we're doing and see how this will benefit an area physically. This is not standard commercial development. We're building things for the community, and as a result we have become a part of the community."
Role Model "My father. He has a high level of integrity. He has no enemies and is very well-liked. He is successful both in business and his personal life."
Gerrard Schmid, 34
Executive Vice-President, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, CIBC Retail Markets, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto
Schmid is part of a crew led by CIBC retail markets vice-chair Jill Denham that will parachute into a troubled division, fix things, then dash to the next problem. Born in South Africa to a chef and a nurse, Schmid came to Canada in 1990 and earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Toronto. He was an aerospace engineer and designer for three years before shifting to finance. He went to work for Denham in 2001 at CIBC's merchant bank and followed her to a bigger challenge: revitalizing CIBC's retail operations-18,000 employees spread over 1,143 branches. One glaring problem was the 40 minutes of form-filling required to open a chequing account. Schmid hired a team of engineers more accustomed to streamlining factory assembly lines. They cut down the average processing time to just 10 minutes.
Role Model Jill Denham. "She's reinvented herself several times in her career. She has spent a large part of her professional life in investment banking. This is her first foray into retail banking."
Sonia Lupien, 37
Assistant Professor and Director, Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Program, Department of Psychiatry and Douglas Hospital Research Centre, McGill University, Montreal
A pioneer in the research of human aging, Lupien was the first scientist to show that stress can lead to memory loss and atrophy of the brain in the elderly. In April, 2002, she created the Brain Imaging Group at Douglas Hospital. This was the first hospital to be linked to the Consortium of Brain Imaging Research, a group of researchers from several institutions who study brain function and psychiatric and neurological diseases. They do that through brain scanning and molecular and genetic studies. In 2000, the consortium won an $11-million grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.
Heal Thyself "My ambition is to keep my health, and not die of stress, because that would look very bad.
I have to calm down and be a good role model."
Role Models "All the men, women and children who have participated in my studies. It's sometimes painful, takes time, doesn't pay much, but it is absolutely necessary to find a cure for the stress in our life."
Ravi S. Menon, 39
Scientist and Director, Laboratory for Functional Magnetic Resonance Research, The John P. Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.
Understanding the workings of a functioning human brain is a dastardly difficult task. You can't just dissect one. So Menon, a physicist, has focused his career on devising other ways to peek through the skull. "We're trying to image things as brief as a thought," he says. He leads 10 researchers who hope to solve puzzles such as the cause of schizophrenia, or why things hurt worse when you expect them. Much of that is based on techniques Menon helped discover as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota, using a $6-million MRI scanner that is one of just 12 of its kind in the world. With two partners, Menon also runs XL Resonance Partners, which builds parts for the machines. "We did about $1 million in sales last year," says Menon, who rolled the profits back into the lab's research budget.
Why Medical Research? "As a physicist, the other choices amounted to making nuclear bombs or staring up at the stars. I figured helping people sounded like the better option."
Role Models Renowned brain researcher Seiji Ogawa, "who laid out the basis of the technique we use." MRI researcher Kamil Ugurbil, Menon's postdoctoral mentor at the University of Minnesota.
David Feather, 39
President, Mackenzie Financial Services Inc., Toronto
Feather has a simple mantra: "Never experiment with a client's money." His early career in finance was varied, first at the Bank of Montreal, then at Ernst & Young Management Consulting. But the mantra started to take hold when he joined Mackenzie Financial Services in 1991 as a manager in the marketing department. He was named president last June. During tough times in financial markets, 69% of Mackenzie's client assets were in top-quartile performing funds. While there's gloom in stock markets today, Feather says the future looks brighter, for two reasons: The quality of investor advice has improved dramatically, and most clients have learned not to jump overboard at the first sign of a storm.
The Presidential Principle "You have to put the investor first-it's funny how, if you do okay for your client, you wind up doing okay for your business."
Role Models "People who respect the talents of others. An accountant has a very valuable skill, but the best accountants are the ones who respect salespeople, and vice versa."
Kit Dalaroy, 33
Vice-President, Mergers and Acquisitions, BCE Inc., Montreal
You know you're a high roller when you're in on a transaction that brings home Investment Dealers Digest's Project Finance Breakthrough Deal of the Year award, plus a slew of others. The deal was the $3.1-billion financing for the consortium that bought Ontario's Highway 407 in 1999. At the time, Dalaroy worked for the U.S. investment bank Salomon Smith Barney in Toronto. He moved to BCE in 2002 and led the largest leveraged buyout in Canadian history-the $3-billion sale of Bell Canada's directories business to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board and U.S. LBO kings Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Dalaroy also participated on the teams that structured BCE's $2-billion-plus equity issue and $2-billion debt offering last year, the company's largest ever.
Role Models "True heroism, in my eyes, belongs to the unspoken heroes that allow me to be the person I am today: my parents, for sacrificing their own needs for my own, and my wife for forgoing her own career and professional aspirations to help me accomplish my own, not to mention taking the lead role in rearing our three children."
Marc-André Dépin, 37
Executive Vice-President, Norampac Inc., Montreal
When Domtar Inc. and Cascades Inc. put their container board businesses together in 1998 to form Norampac, it posted a small loss of $5.1 million. But last year the company's net income was $68.5 million, making it one of the most profitable container board companies in North America. Dépin, who has a business degree from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, was on the Norampac management team from the beginning. He credits the turnaround to a new corporate culture that's "putting the emphasis on people." Norampac has 33 business units across North America, and another one in France, with more than 4,500 employees, and Dépin makes it a point to meet them all face-to-face every year.
It's About Attitude, Not Paper "You can buy the best equipment in the world, you can build the best plant in the world, but if you can't motivate the employees to work with you, you're not going to go anywhere."
Role Model Cascades Inc.: "Their management style is the one that I practise every day."
Christian Sinclair, 32
Director of Corporate Development, Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba Ltd.; General Manager of the 2002 North American Indigenous Games (Winnipeg) Ltd., Winnipeg
As the director of corporate development for Manitoba's $40-million Tribal Councils Investment Group, Sinclair wants to amalgamate every aboriginal investment fund in Canada. "The vision," he says, "is to create a national powerhouse. It's the same logic behind a braided grass rope-the blades are stronger together than apart." He knows how to bring people together. Sinclair navigated a wide range of traditions to run last summer's 16-event Indigenous games on a budget of $8.3 million. The games attracted 7,300 participants from across Turtle Island (that's First Nations' lingo for North America). "I felt a tremendous amount of pressure," says Sinclair, who grew up on the Opaskwayak Cree First Nation in Northern Manitoba. "But at the opening ceremonies there were elders with tears in their eyes, and I knew it was a success."
Humble beginnings "We ran on the gravel roads, and canoed and snowshoed on the Saskatchewan River."
Role ModelS His father, a trapper and heavy equipment operator: "He taught me all the values and especially the work ethic." And David Tuccaro, a contractor from Alberta's Mikisew Cree First Nation and 1997 Top 40 honoree: "I'm fortunate to be in the same group."
Jeff Westeinde, 36
Founder and CEO, Quantum Environmental Group, Ottawa
Quantum specializes in the removal and treatment of hazardous waste and contaminated soil and water. Westeinde trained to become a civil engineer at the University of Western Ontario, and then fell into asbestos removal after graduation. The job took him to British Columbia, where he launched Quantum with a staff of three in 1992. Revenues now total $28 million. The company has 100 full-time and 150 project-based employees, and five offices in B.C. It has opened a sixth in Ottawa and is eyeing the U.S. market.
You Can Do Both "It's rewarding to know that you can run a successful business and make the world better at the same time."
Role Models "I draw my daily inspiration from my family and the team I have the pleasure of working with. My parents and my siblings are all successful businesspeople, and the Quantum team is an exceptional group of people who generate a ton of positive energy and enthusiasm."
Byron Osing, 39
Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Launchworks Inc., Calgary
Osing started a software company while studying for a PhD in marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Calgary. In 1999, he co-founded Launchworks, a venture-capital outfit that invests in young technology companies. The most successful is 180 Connect, which installs broadband wiring and equipment to link homes and offices to cable and satellite networks.
Father Knew Best "He didn't inherit farmland. He had to borrow the money and work himself to death. He paid off the farm the year before he died-he was 70. Being a dry-land farmer in Southern Alberta, just making it is a struggle. There are some good times, but they've been mostly bad for the past 20 to 30 years. If you grow up in that environment-where every day you have to kill yourself-it's no sweat to work hard in a company."
Role Model "Michael Dell. At a very young age, he created a marketing and distribution machine against huge competitors. He continues to expand market share in very tough times."
Patrick Dodd, 35
President, ACNielsen Co. of Canada, Markham, Ont.
Mention ACNielsen and most people think of TV ratings. But ACNeilsen Canada's core business is providing marketing information for companies that make consumer packaged goods-ratings for brand names, if you will. The company collects point-of-sale data from stores, analyzes the numbers-"we make the data dance," says Dodd-and then passes the information to corporate clients. A company might use it to, say, switch from expensive TV ads to in-store promotions and coupons. Dodd joined ACNielsen Canada's executive team in 1997, and he says employees have been a key to its strong revenue growth since then.
"We believe employee satisfaction drives client satisfaction, which in turn drives shareholder satisfaction."
Don't Take Me Shopping "My wife won't even go in a store with me. The average shopper would spend 15 minutes. I'd probably spend an hour, looking at shelf space, looking at pricing, looking at who's picked up end-aisle displays that week."
Role Models "My dad was an unbelievable salesman and sales manager. He always put the clients first. My mom is unbelievable with breaking down problems analytically."
Jonathan Ross Goodman, 35
President and CEO, Paladin Labs Inc., Montreal
Paladin, which licenses and sells brand-name pharmaceuticals, is on steroids, both literally and metaphorically. The company's lead product is the testosterone patch Androderm-the only one approved for men in Canada. Last year, Paladin sold $1.4 million worth, and Goodman hopes it will win the lion's share of what may soon be a $100-million market of aging baby boomers. A lawyer and a graduate of the London School of Economics, Goodman started Paladin in 1996 at age 28, with $1 million raised on the Vancouver Stock Exchange. Today the company has $45 million in cash, no debt, several profitable product lines and a revenue target of $26 million for 2003. "We think we will be able to grow the business at 20%-plus for the foreseeable future," he says.
Role Model "My father. He's CEO of the third-largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor in Canada [Pharmascience Inc.] He started off delivering prescriptions on his bicycle when he was 10. He's been creating things ever since. I hope my legs carry me that far."
Mary DePaoli, 33
Vice-President, National Accounts, Customer Relationships and Marketing, Group Retirement Services, Sun Life Financial Services of Canada, Toronto
DePaoli earned a postgrad degree in journalism and communications in 1992 from the American University in Washington. She did a stint at CNN's D.C. bureau and then returned to Toronto as editor of Benefits and Pensions Monitor. She left in 1995 and gave herself two years to "move from reporting on the news to actually making it."
She joined Sun Life in 1999. Her division is Canada's largest provider of employer-sponsored pension plans, with $22 billion in assets and 850,000 plan members.
Clients include IBM and the National Hockey League Players' Association.
New Addition DePaoli had a baby girl, Madeleine, in November. She is working on special projects from home while on maternity leave. "I don't remember the first month at all. Everything since has been the greatest joy of my life."
Role Model Katherine Graham. "She attracted talent, and many credit her for changing politics, news and business practices. I live by her mantra: To love what you do and feel that it matters. How could anything be more fun?"
Daniel Laplante, 38
President, Continental Oilfield Supply Canada, Calgary
After selling oil-field equipment, Laplante co-founded Continental in 1997. It provides pipes, tubes and bars for the oil and gas industry as well as marine construction and chemical plants. Launched with nominal capital from two founders, the company expects revenues to hit $50 million in 2003.
Jack-of-All-Trades "I do a little bit of everything. Some days it'll be human resources, some days it'll be sales, some days it'll be negotiating with the banks. This was particularly true in the early days. I now have a strong team who allow me to devote time and energy to the University of Lethbridge, where I serve on the board of governors. By the time I'm 40, I will have been with the university 13 years."
Persistence Pays "The most rewarding day in my personal life was the day I was able to convince my wife to marry me. I asked her three times before she said yes. On another level, my partner down in Houston pursued me for eight years before I said yes. I don't know why I didn't accept sooner."
Role Model "Andrew Carnegie. He had it all, and he gave it all back. He made an impact."
Shauna Sylvester, 38
Executive Director, IMPACS (Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society) Vancouver
While a lot of executives are lounging in Muskoka chairs or water-skiing this summer, Sylvester will probably be in Cambodia, where there's an election coming up. Helping to build a free press in formerly repressive countries is only one task for IMPACS. More typically, Sylvester meets media executives in countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, -the Rupert Murdochs of South Asia. The non-profit organization also shows charities how to spread their messages through the media. Having worked for charities since she was 17, Sylvester founded IMPACS in 1997 and has since expanded it into an international operation with an annual budget of $4 million. The work has sent her around the world, including conflict-ridden regions of South America and Sri Lanka.
Most Intense Experience Guyana, 2001. "I've never been to a country where the rifts between races were so strong. I've never seen division like I saw between the Afro- and Indo-Guyanese communities. And it seemed like no one was paying attention."
Role Models "I learn most from people who take risks and have visions about how to make the world a better place."
Andrew J. McConnell, 38
Regional Vice-President, Personal and Business Banking, RBC Financial Group, Hamilton, Ont.
McConnell played pro football for seven seasons as a centre with the Cincinnati Bengals (NFL) and the Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) before beginning his financial career with the Toronto Dominion Bank in 1993. He shifted to the Royal Bank Financial Group in 1998 and now leads the Golden Horseshoe region in Ontario, which stretches from Guelph to Fort Erie. McConnell grew up in the Wasauksin First Nation, an Ojibway community near Parry Sound, Ont. He has helped lead many initiatives for the aboriginal community, including the provision of housing, infrastructure and funds for land-claims lawyers.
Call to Action "There's a cost to doing nothing and there's a cost to not doing enough. The issues, challenges and opportunities that confront aboriginal Canada are of interest and tremendous importance to all Canadians."
Role Model Tasker Kelsey, retired senior vice-president of the TD Bank. "He was a generous and patient coach, and a man of high honour, character and integrity."
Chris Besse, 36
President and CEO, Gage Learning Corp., Toronto
When Besse graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1988, he wanted a job in U.S. publishing. He landed at Harper Collins's Atlanta office and soon discovered a passion for educational publishing. It was at least somewhat predictable: His father, Ron Besse, was president of Canada Publishing Corp. Chris moved to Toronto in 1991 to work for Gage, a CPC subsidiary and one of Canada's leading publishers of language- arts textbooks since the 1950s (Gage is now the holding company). Besse was promoted to president and chief operating officer in 1996, and named CEO last year.
The Medium and the Message Learn@Gage is an R&D unit that explores classroom uses for new media. "I remember when you filled a Styrofoam cup with dirt, stuck a seed in and waited a month to see if anything happened. Now you can do it virtually in five minutes."
Role models "The classroom teachers who give of themselves to help young people realize their potential. In today's knowledge economy this is vital to Canada's prosperity."
Paul Antle, 38
President and CEO, Island Waste Management Inc., St. John's
Born and raised in St. John's, Antle started his first company, SCC Environmental, in 1988, a year after he got his master's degree in engineering. He founded Island Waste Management in 1995, the first hazardous-waste transfer station in Newfoundland. It's still virtually the only game on The Rock for clients that include oil companies, hospitals and homeowners. "Some of the big boys have tried to compete with us," Antle says, "but when you're local you have a better sensitivity to local issues." The company's technology essentially boils off and captures contaminants such as PCBs and polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons. It is also mobile, so crews can respond within hours to problems at offshore oil rigs.
Hazardous Waste Is Forever Antle says his services are "going to be needed for a very long time-until we develop technologies that don't produce any waste."
Role Model British environmentalist Robert Swan, the only person to walk to the North Pole and the South Pole. Swan also led a cleanup crew of young people to Antarctica in 1996-'97. "He took kids from all kinds of nations into a strange environment, in dangerous situations at times."
Heather Tulk, 35
Vice-President, Broadband and Marketing, Aliant, Halifax
Many Canadians still think of phone companies as the hulking monopolists of old. Tulk is charged with changing the way the public thinks of her employer, the dominant phone company in Atlantic Canada. Born and raised in St. John's, Tulk has a BComm from Memorial University of Newfoundland and an MBA from Queen's University. She forged her reputation in the early days of the internet in 1995 when she worked at NewTel Communications, one of the four provincial telecom firms that merged to form Aliant in 1999. Before a room full of executives,she was asked to handle the launch of NewTel's internet service in just eight weeks. "My first thought was: 'But I don't have any idea about the internet!'" she says. She did it anyway. After the Aliant amalgamation, Tulk handled the integration of service staff. She was appointed vice-president of marketing and broadband last October.
Internet Business Plan, Circa 1995 "It was so seat-of-the-pants. We thought, 'We don't have any idea how we're going to make money from this, but no one else does either, so let's just give it a shot.'"
Role Model Aliant CEO Frank Fagan: "When I was a new mother, he'd say, 'You go home to those children right now.'"
Brenda Chambers-Tuccaro, 39
TV Producer and Host, Brenco Media Inc., Vancouver
Storytelling is almost a family business for Chambers-Tuccaro-she started when her grandfather, an hereditary chief of the Champagne and Ta'an Kwachan First Nation, asked her to help tape-record tribal elders as they told traditional stories. After a stint working for Northern Native Broadcasting, Yukon, where she eventually became general manager, she launched her own production and consulting business in 1997. "They were focused on the North," Chambers-Tuccaro says, "and I wanted to produce stories that were all across the country." Chambers-Tuccaro's company produces Venturing Forth, now in its third season on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, about the roles aboriginal people play in Canada's corporate culture. As important as showing that, she says, is the chance to develop aboriginal writers, editors and technical people.
Role Model Alanis Obomsawin, documentary filmmaker, writer and director of Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance.
"Her standards have always been incredibly high. She has worked her whole life in the industry. She gets respect."
Michael Geist, 34
Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa, Ottawa
Geist returned to Canada in 1998 from postgraduate studies at Columbia Law School in New York-the "brain drain in reverse," he calls it-to be in on the ground floor of Canada's legal response to the internet. "Not everything had been written, not every policy had been set," he says. Hot issues included privacy, jurisdiction and how internet domain names are governed. He spearheaded Canada's leading technology law program, including the first technical-law internship, in which students staff a "very traditional legal-aid-type clinic." Who's Watching You? "The Canadian government, along with a lot of other national governments, have used the last 18 months as a wonderful opportunity to put into place a series of new surveillance approaches. In many respects, the public still is not sufficiently engaged on privacy issues."
ROLE MODEL Lawrence Lessig, professor at Stanford Law School: "He was part of the appeal last year arguing against the extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years after an author's death (the so-called Mickey Mouse Act). He's a global leader in internet law, and is engaging the public and policymakers."
Steven J.P. Comeau (left), 32, and Michael-Andreas Kuttner, 32
Co-Founders, Collideascope Digital Productions (Comeau is president, Kuttner COO), Halifax
Comeau and Kuttner were both computer prodigies. Comeau was hired as a Commodore 64 expert by a local Canadian Tire at age 11. Kuttner started his own business at age 12-he owned two heart-rate measuring machines. They were friends in high school, but didn't get serious about kidding around together until they attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
The pair left in 1993, hoping to work in new media, but the story in Halifax was notmuchhappeninghere.com. They launched Collideascope in 1995, which created graphics for film and television, and assembled web sites. "We spent $200 each to get business cards and letterhead," says Kuttner. Now, Collideascope is the East Coast's leading convergence and interactive television producer. Its cartoon show, Ollie's Under the Bed Adventures, is one of the first North American series to use Flash web-animation technology. It won a Gemini for best animated series in 2001.
No stereotypes Collideascope's next ambition is to launch a digital cable channel with news and features about Maritime culture-"without all the fiddles and bagpipes," says Kuttner.
Role Model Steven DeNure of Toronto's Decode Entertainment, because he is "proof that you can be internationally successful and influential while doing business fairly and ethically and, in spite of all the pressures of running a business in a difficult environment, still lead a full, balanced and interesting life."
Linda Hasenfratz, 36
President and CEO, Linamar Corp., Guelph, Ont.
Linamar makes auto parts, primarily components for the engine, transmission and chassis. Hasenfratz's father, Frank, founded the company in 1966. She joined in 1990, and worked at several jobs in her first year. She was named chief operating officer in 1997, and CEO last August. Over the past five years, Linamar has expanded from 19 factories to 32. Revenues climbed by 13% in 2002 to $1.36 billion.
Family Gatherings "We usually end up talking about business. You don't get that clean divide between work and personal life, and sometimes you absolutely need that."
Role Model "My father, whose entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and management skills built Linamar into what it is today. He has an uncanny ability for zeroing in on an issue, an unbelievable memory-especially for things with a dollar sign in front!-and more technical knowledge than anyone I have ever met. I aspire to be as knowledgeable, accomplished, successful and respected a leader as he is one day."
Patrick Meneley, 39
Managing Director, Head of Investment Banking, TD Securities; Senior Vice-President, TD Bank Financial Group, Toronto
Meneley says much of his success is due to his "baptism by fire." Armed with an MBA from the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business, he joined Salomon Brothers Canada Inc. as vice-president of corporate finance in 1991, a very low point for investment bankers. He moved to TD Securities in 1997 as leader of the division focusing on media and communications companies. The first of many big deals was Telus Corp.'s merger with BC Tel in 1999, followed by Telus's $6.6-billion purchase of Clearnet Communications Inc. in 2000. TD promoted Meneley to head of investment banking in September, 2001, and he led the division to record results in 2002.
Role Model Ian Robinson, principal, Sterling Hall School, a Toronto private school where Meneley is chairman of the board of governors. "If Robinson had chosen a different path in life, he could be the CEO of a company."
Vincenzo Guzzo, 33
Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Les Cinémas Guzzo, Terrebonne, Que.
Guzzo's father, Angelo, a machinist, bought his first movie theatre in Montreal in 1974. The two now run the family business together, and have expanded Les Cinémas Guzzo from 36 screens in 1998 to the current 119, all in Quebec. Most are suburban megaplexes with big screens, wide seats and arcades. In 2002, revenues exceeded $40 million.
Family Matters "The most heated discussions in the office are between my father and I, but we have a rule: Nobody apologizes. Apologizing is the humiliating part; bitching and hollering are the fun part. We both say that we're old and mature enough to realize, the day after, who was right. Sometimes it takes him 48 hours to realize I was right."
Role Model "My dad, for his calm, collected, logical reasoning, and Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone for his aggressiveness. His dad used to own drive-ins and now he's head of Viacom, which owns Paramount. He's one of the last movie guys who's owned a family company."
Michael Zerbs, 37
Chief Operating Officer, Algorithmics Inc., Toronto
Zerbs didn't decide to move to Canada; he sort of ended up staying here after school was done. Born and raised in Austria, he has a master's degree in commerce from the Vienna University of Business Administration and Economics and a PhD in economics from Kepler University. Zerbs came to Toronto in 1989 to do an MBA at the University of Toronto. He befriended Ron Dembo, a former Yale computer-science prof who was in Toronto to launch Algorithmics, a financial risk-management software firm. Zerbs let himself get talked into becoming one of Dembo's earliest employees. Half of the world's 100 largest banks now use Algorithmics products.
Travelling Man Zerbs established beachheads for Algorithmics in South America and Europe in the 1990s, and he is now responsible for its global field operations.
Role Models "I don't believe there are heroes. I believe in good managers with a clear long-term strategy who know there are no shortcuts."
Tanya Shaw Weeks, 31
President and Chief Executive Officer, Unique Patterns Design Ltd., Halifax
"The main reason people stop sewing," says Weeks, "is because they can't make clothes that fit." That's kind of a fundamental problem for a sewing-pattern company. Last fall, after five years of research, Weeks launched a machine that makes things considerably easier. About the size of a store dressing room, the "bodyskanner" uses low-power lasers to take every conceivable measurement on the near-nude human body-48, actually-in just 45 seconds. It then feeds the numbers into a computer program to create custom sewing patterns that fit like designer fashions. In an industry in which 65% of sewing machines now regularly connect to a computer, the bodyskanner helped Weeks and her 30 employees increase sales by 260% last year. She expects them to double in 2003.
Coming to Your Local Mall Weeks will try to sell the $50,000 bodyskanner to sewing and fabric stores.
The Power of Inexperience "As a young entrepreneur, a little naiveté was an asset, because it meant I was more open to new ideas-I didn't know what was impossible."cal Mall Weeks will try to sell the $50,000 bodyskanner to sewing and fabric stores.
Tony Stewart, 36
Co-Proprietor, Quails' Gate Estate Winery; President, BACAS Group of Companies, Kelowna, B.C.
Stewart began his career on Bay Street, working in risk management for three years at brokerage firm Burns Fry. He moved home to the Okanagan Valley after his son was born in 1992. The timing was perfect-Quails' Gate, launched by Stewart's father and brother in 1989, was coming into its own. "My brother asked me to give him a hand for a few months," says Stewart. "It's turning into a lifetime." The other major part of BACAS is the Double S Cannery Group, a development firm that builds communities for retirees.
Role Models Wayne Gretzky: "It doesn't matter what field you're in; he epitomizes what you can do better." Robert Mondavi: "When I think of people in the winery business, I look to him."
Barry Allen, 38
President and CEO, VSM MedTech Ltd., Vancouver
When Allen joined VSM MedTech in 1999, "we had five employees and a couple of ideas held together with tape with wires hanging out." Today, VSM has more than 120 employees, thanks to two devices. One is a small electronic monitor for blood pressure and other vital signs called a BpTRU. It sells for just $500 (U.S.). Another is VSM's MEG technology, which resembles a beauty-shop hair dryer and allows real-time mapping of brain functions. The units cost $1.5 million (U.S.) each. A new product will give blood-pressure readings during surgery.
Role Models Former GE chairman Jack Welch and current chairman Jeffrey Immelt. "I like the idea that you shouldn't be in a business unless you can be number one."
Canada's Top 40 Under 40tm
National Board of Directors 2002/2003
Dr. Alan Bernstein, President, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Ottawa
Pierre Blouin, Chief Executive Officer, BCE Emergis Inc., Montreal
Barbara Bruce, President, Winds of Change, Winnipeg
Dr. Angus Bruneau, Chairman, Fortis Inc., St. John's
Dr. J.-Pierre Brunet, Chairman, PEAK Investments Inc., Beaconsfield, Que.
Pierre Brunet, Vice Chairman, National Bank of Canada, Montreal
André Bureau, Chairman, Astral Media Inc., Montreal
Brendan Calder, Entrepreneur in Residence, Professor of Strategic Management, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, Professor, Geomatics Engineering, University of Calgary
Marcel Côté, President, Secor Group Inc., Montreal
Rob Dexter, Chief Executive Officer, Maritime Travel Inc., Halifax
Wanda Dorosz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Quorum Funding Corporation, Toronto
Guy Dufresne, President and Chief Executive Officer, Quebec Cartie Mining Co., Montréal
Paul Godfrey, President and Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club
Stanley Hartt, Chairman, Salomon Smith Barney Canada, Toronto
Dale Lastman, Co-Chair, Goodmans LLP, Toronto
Jeffrey Lozon, President and Chief Executive Officer, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto
Marg McGregor, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Interuniversity Sport, Ottawa
David Mowat, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union
Ms. Wendy Paquette, Senior Vice President, Customer Service & Operations, Aliant Telecom, Halifax
Barbara Rae, Corporate Director, Vancouver
Doug Stewart, Corporate Director, Oakville
Stella Thompson, Principal, Governance West Inc., Calgary
Arni Thorsteinson, President, Shelter Canadian Properties Limited, Winnipeg
Mike Tims, Chairman, Peters & Company Limited, Calgary
Elizabeth Watson, Managing Director, Board Resourcing and Development, Government of British Columbia, Vancouver
Kip Woodward, President, Woodcorp Investment Ltd., Vancouver
Victor Young, Corporate Director, St. John's
Ron Zambonini, Chief Executive Officer, Cognos Inc., Ottawa