CEO Insider

Ed Clark: Canada's CEO of the Year

The leader of TD's American expansion was the big winner at our inaugural gala

td-Mark Hemmings-Canadian-Press

Mark Hemmings/CP

Ed Clark of TD Bank Group was named CEO of the Year by Canadian Business magazine at a Wednesday evening inaugural gala in Toronto. For the first year of the award, a committee of 14 Canadian business professionals recognized four accomplished leaders from the country’s top-performing public companies for their exceptional work as CEOs.

In what will be a 12-year term as head of TD when he retires next year, Clark has managed to turn a $76 million loss in the year he took over, to company profits of $7.1 billion last year. He has seen TD through a massive company expansion, adding 1300 retail branches of the bank across North America while managing to avoid the snares of the U.S. mortgage crisis.

Ellis Jacob of Cineplex Inc. was chosen as the winner of CB’s 2013 Most Innovative CEO award, in recognition of his ability to generate profits while the rest of his industry dealt with widespread loss. While it’s been long-predicted that cinema attendance will continue to drop—particularly with the onset of online movie services—Jacob managed to boost Cineplex’s revenue by 9.4%, or $1.1 billion, in 2012. In bringing constant updates to Cineplex’s 136 theatres, Ellis has managed to continue generating consumer interest in a century-old form of entertainment.

In the short time he’s been with WestJet Airlines Ltd., CEO Gregg Saretsky has managed to double the company’s stock value, set up a new system of selling seats with competing companies, expand the airline’s fleet, and introduce its new regional carrier, Encore. It’s an impressive list of accomplishments for someone who’s only been at the helm for three years. For all of these accomplishments, Saretsky is the recipient of CB’s Top New CEO award. It’s not just our committee who have shown him support, though. In a vote from 9,000 WestJet employees, 91% supported Saretsky’s decision to launch the Encore service—a sign that he’s been able to make quite an impression in just a small amount of time.

The fourth CEO honoured on Wednesday evening was Hunter Harrison of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. In just over a year, Harrison has managed to boost the struggling CP’s stock price by more than 90%, trimming the company’s fleet and bureaucratic procedures in order to cut down on costs and streamline its operations. The changes haven’t been easy—saving costs has meant cutting 4,500 jobs into 2016—but results are becoming apparent. CP’s operating ratio now rivals competitors like Canadian National Railway. For making tough decisions, and seeing results, Harrison received CB’s first-ever Top Turnaround CEO award.

Wednesday night’s event, hosted by Dianne Buckner of CBC’s Dragons’ Den, was held at the Four Seasons hotel in Yorkville. Over 200 members of the Canadian business and media communities attended the gala, including Harry Rosen CEO Larry Rosen, HBC’s Bonnie Brooks, Toronto Argonauts CEO Chris Rudge, and fashion journalist Jeanne Beker.

Click here for a closer look at tonight’s winners >>

With files from Jeff Beer, Joe Castaldo, and Philip Preville.