Business built Canada. Seriously. From the very start companies, not politicians or aristocrats, put this country together. The Hudson’s Bay Co. Canadian Pacific Railway. They literally carved the paths that united this vast country. Together with their heirs they created the wealth that made this unlikely nation possible. And they’re still doing it today. That’s why we created the CEO of the Year Awards. Because in the 21st century, just like the 19th, the men and women leading Canadian businesses are leading Canada, too. And they deserve to be recognized for the nation builders they are.
As a magazine, we are never slow to call out poor leadership, nor should we be. But the truth is, we don’t give great leaders nearly enough praise. A good chief executive doesn’t just create value for shareholders (although they do plenty of that). They create value for the country. They offer new jobs. They improve lives with new products. They generate the wealth that makes us richer. By highlighting the best CEOs in Canada, we hope to create an example—to hold up an ideal that others can strive toward and thus strengthen the overall enterprise of business in the nation.
To make sure our winners truly are the best, we employed a judging system that we believe is both rigorous and objective. First, we assembled a short list of Canada’s top-performing public companies by sector, based on Bloomberg data. Then we submitted the leaders of those companies to our distinguished advisory board of business experts, the members of which gave each CEO a score out of five on four key criteria: vision, innovation, strategic thinking and social responsibility. The top scorer with more than five years at the helm was chosen as CEO of the Year. The top scorer with less than five years was chosen as Top New CEO. We also chose winners for Most Innovative CEO and Top Turnaround CEO, based on their scores in those categories.
It will surprise few readers of this magazine that Ed Clark emerged as the overall winner. As chief executive of TD, Clark led an astounding U.S. expansion of the bank, adding 1,300 branches in just five years. That he did all that while largely sidestepping the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis is a delicate feat. Inside TD, Clark is known for his uncanny ability to communicate his vision. In the larger business world, he is renowned for his exceptional decency. It would be impossible to imagine a more fitting winner for the first edition of this prize.
Clark, however, is not our only winner. For rapidly expanding WestJet’s reach through code-sharing and strategic partnerships, Gregg Saretsky was named our Top New CEO. Cineplex Inc.’s Ellis Jacob, who somehow finds new ways to make money from movies every year, is our Most Innovative CEO. Hunter Harrison, who in just two years has radically reformed CP Rail’s corporate culture, is our Top Turnaround CEO.
Four men who all share one thing: vision. In 2013, it’s not enough to look at profit in the short term. Great leaders, like the ones we are celebrating in this issue, are building companies for the long haul: companies that can weather storms and anchor the nation in good times and in bad. For that we, as a country, owe these executives a great thanks.
Our CEO of the Year Advisory Board
How do you know you’ve truly picked Canada’s CEO of the Year? You ask the smartest people in the country.
President of Maxus Canada and former Managing Director at Mindshare Canada
President and CEO of the Institute for Research on Public Policy
Former President and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada, special adviser at Ryerson University
President of Sun Life Financial
Vice-Chair of the Hudson’s Bay Co.
President of Jalynn H. Bennett and Associates, former Vice-President at Manulife Financial
Chair of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre at Ryerson University
ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR
Board Director and Co-Lead of the Asia-Pacific region for Spencer Stuart
Former Dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business, Western University
President and CEO of Clearwater Fine Foods Inc.
Executive Chair and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts Football Club
President and CEO of Rogers Communications Inc.
CEO of RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust