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19th Annual Top 50 CEO Awards

19th Annual Top 50 CEO Awards
Don Bureaux
Don
Bureaux

President & CEO, Nova Scotia Community College
(Halifax, N.S.)

“The post-secondary sector has the potential to transform our society. It has the researchers who’ll help solve the problems of today and tomorrow.”

Coastal innovations Don Bureaux sees a lot of similarities between the post-secondary sectors of Atlantic Canada and Massachusetts. It might sound a tad hyperbolic: after all, the latter serves as the home of legendary institutions like Harvard, MIT and Boston University.

But Bureaux suggests that advanced research and innovation being conducted by Nova Scotia Community College holds equal power to transform society, including in the fields of applied geomatics, integrated ocean mapping, vulnerable coastal zone protection and residential heating systems.

Onwards and upwards A major goal for the college in the next five years is to continue expanding that innovation agenda so that each of the campuses can be “innovation hubs in the communities they serve.” Bureaux acknowledges that knowledge sharing is a challenge given the pan-provincial nature of the institution, but the necessary balances are being perfected.

Juggling campuses The Nova Scotia Community College spans 13 campuses with a combined 120 programs and over 2,000 employees. That requires a concerted approach of “democratizing leadership” in order to ensure that responsibility is shared.

It’s not always easy for Bureaux: he readily acknowledges that he’s introverted and sometimes suffers from “imposter syndrome”. But by working with an executive coach, he’s managed to turn that vulnerability into a positive trait, which now “makes me work harder and helps me seek the counsel and advice of my colleagues.”


Joyce
Carter

President & CEO, Halifax International Airport Authority
(Enfield, N.S.)

“We understand being innovative is not simply doing things better than they’ve been done in the past, but rather doing them differently.”

Frequent flyer Joyce Carter was “employee #2” of Halifax International Airport Authority.
Carter started her career in 1999, just before the authority took over control of the airport from Transport Canada. Since then, she’s worked a multitude of roles—including VP Finance, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Strategy Officer—and led a massive infrastructure improvement program and strategic plan implementations.

After being appointed president and CEO in March 2014, Carter set about a “fairly significant reorganization” that increased productivity and efficiencies: “Although it was difficult for a few team members for a while, in the longer run, it was clearly the right thing to do,” she says.

All aboard In 2014, the airport became the first on the continent to offer a self-service baggage drop, helping cut average check-in time to under two minutes. But Carter says that’s only the latest in innovations for Halifax Stanfield: in 2012, it created an airport culture program called the Stanfield Way that teaches employees how to recognize passenger stress and assist; over 780 employees have graduated from the program.

Head in the clouds The airport’s latest strategic plan set six major goals for the next few years, including annual passenger volume of 4.4 million people and $112 million in revenue per year. It’s all part of Carter’s broad commitment to economic and social growth in Nova Scotia. —Drew Brown


Brian Chafe
CEO, PAL Group
(St. John’s, N.L.)

“I run my business as if it’s my family because for me, every employee and client has intrinsic value.”

Going public The transition from a private to public company wasn’t exactly the easiest for the Provincial Aerospace Ltd. (PAL) Group. After all, PAL—which runs an aerospace division, airline and aviation services provider—had always been a “very private company.”

It took a lot of effort for Brian Chafe, who took over as CEO in 2013 after 15 years with the company, to convince staff that it would be as good, if not better, than it had been. But via a series of very concerted efforts to foster open and honest communication (including meeting individually with key people, introducing a company newsletter and enacting an employee engagement committee), Chafe and his team managed to pull it off: PAL’s revenue has grown by 26 per cent in the last three years.

Charting a new course Chafe has also worked to make the company an employer of choice: in 2016, PAL announced a maternity top-up program, retirement benefits and a scholarship program for the children of employees. Almost half of the over 800 people who work at PAL have been there for over 10 years, and a number are second generation employees.

Onwards and upwards PAL aims to be one of the largest airlines in Canada within the next five years. It recently established a dedicated R&D division, procured Halifax’s aerospace software development company CarteNav Solutions, and opened a business development office in Ottawa. PAL is also constantly negotiating new partnership agreements with various companies.


Tracy Clinch
President & CEO, Masitek Instruments Inc.
(Moncton, N.B.)

“My entire identity is Atlantic Canadian… All the experience I needed to be successful, I found right here.”

Have faith Soon after Tracy Clinch joined Masitek in 2012, the company faced an ultimatum.
As an in-line smart sensing technology company, Masitek had been looking to incorporate technology from another company into their products. However, when they decided to go with something different, Clinch says the other company took their idea and commercialized the product.
Clinch says Masitek had two options: legal action, or “hold firm on the knowledge that the product offering we had for the customer was a stronger option.”

They chose the latter. To date, she says that Masitek hasn’t lost a competitive bid to the other company, and trusting in the quality of their product was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made.

Growth through guidance Since 2014, Clinch has helped Masitek grow by 352 per cent and has seen their employee numbers grow from nine to 11. That growth is a direct result of investments in innovation: continuous client consultation, technology upgrades, new product developments, and creative marketing solutions. Additionally, the company has secured partnerships with two Spanish companies to improve the longevity of reusable glass and aluminum bottles.

Success breeds success For Clinch, success isn’t something she did on her own. She also acknowledges those who’ve inspired and worked with her: her co-workers, her mentors and her family. She specifically salutes the influence of her siblings (who are both successful entrepreneurs) and her hard-working parents.


Keith Collins

President & CEO, St. John’s International Airport Authority
(St. John’s, N.L.)
“Emotional intelligence, the capacity to be aware of your own and others’ emotions, is the most important quality for a leader to have.”
Two-part success Keith Collins attributes his career success to two things. The first is what he refers to as his “personal make-up” (competitive, with a strong work ethic) and includes his strategic ability to see the “big picture” before making a decision.

The second relates to the diverse learning experiences he’s gained from working in a variety of fields and industries. These include jobs in telecommunications, information technology and now with the airport authority, which oversees management, maintenance and development of YYT. He says that each new position tested his abilities in different ways and stretched his skill set.

A place for history Collins says that one of the airport’s roles is to enhance the social and economic well-being of the population it serves. As part of their 2016 community outreach, the airport authority championed terminal exhibits highlighting the centennial anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel as well as the men and women who served in the air force during the World Wars.

We can see clearly now Under Collins’ leadership, the St. John’s airport has, among other things, become the fourth airport in the country to introduce a Category 3 Instrument Landing System. The system has increased the airport’s accessibility during the persistent low visibility (i.e. fog) that plagues the area. As a result, the number of flights affected by low visibility has dropped from 1,000 a year to less than 50.

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