Bright leaders of Calgary: Angela Avery, WestJet

March 14, 2024
Leadership Innovation Team Calgary Aerospace & Logistics
Angela Avery Resize

This article is part of the Bright Leaders of Calgary series, which features prominent corporate leaders and their insights on the local business community and vision for the future.

Calgary’s aerospace and aviation sector is soaring to unexpected heights. 

Fueled by recent investments and new training streams, the sector offers unique careers for students, resources for aviation innovators and global connectivity for businesses and travelers.  

Leaders like Angela Avery, Executive Vice President and Chief People, Corporate & Sustainability Officer at The WestJet Group, are driving the strategy behind the growth of the industry.  

WestJet, a global airline headquartered in Calgary, recently announced their participation as an inaugural industry partner in the Aerospace Innovation Hub. The hub, located at the YYC Calgary International Airport, is designed to scale innovators new ideas through the real-world application and mentorship of partners like WestJet.   

By offering meaningful careers for people who want to make a difference, create solutions, change – and connect – the world, her work at WestJet aligns with priorities in the city’s economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy 

We caught up with Angela for her insights into the reasons behind Calgary’s resiliency and the future of its evolving aviation industry. 

Why did WestJet choose Calgary as its global connecting hub? 

With a young, mobile population and a diverse and growing business community, it was an easy decision to make Calgary our hub. Here, we can fill up any aircraft between those flying for work, and those that want to travel and explore the world. We have an appetite to continue growing from Calgary, and now offer 67 direct flights around the world from YYC, which makes Calgary one of the best-connected mid-sized cities in North America.  

What opportunities does Calgary have in the aviation and aerospace industries? 

Calgary is well positioned to become a technology centre of excellence across sectors and increasingly, in aerospace.  

We have great post-secondary programs that are attracting and training people to work in aviation, whether it’s as an aircraft mechanic or a pilot in the flight deck. This momentum is felt at a provincial level, too, as the government continues to support and invest in the growth of the industry. 

With young people getting trained in the sector and the technological know-how of professionals in Calgary, the conditions are ripe for the city to become a centre of excellence in aviation. 

What kind of innovation are we seeing in Calgary’s aerospace and innovation sector?   

I’d argue Alberta is one of the very best places in the world to crack the nut on sustainable aviation fuel. Calgary and Alberta producers and refiners are investing in sustainable technologies so that they can change their scope on emissions. At the same time, we’ve got WestJet, a big user of fuel, headquartered here in Calgary and eager to test new solutions. 

Those in the aerospace sector in the Calgary region know we need to collaborate and bring additional technology and digital minds to the table. With hubs like the Aerospace Innovation Hub, Calgary is well poised to invest in and trial new technologies, fuels, and ideas to enhance the sustainability of our sector.  

What are your insights and observations of Calgary’s talent pool, and how is it changing?

As we welcome new Canadians, Calgary has a more diverse talent pool now than we’ve ever had before.

People come here because of the diversity of energy and other great jobs, and the opportunities available in new industries popping up on the innovation and tech side. 

Calgary is a growing city that helps WestJet and other companies meet our unique staffing needs. It’s a sticky city, too. When people come here for work, they stay for life, because it’s a great place to live.

What gives you optimism for Calgary?

The energy of Calgary excites me. Despite experiencing challenges like commodity price cycles, the flood and a pandemic, Calgary always comes back stronger than ever through the support of everybody within the community. 

I’m optimistic about how we’ve been able to evolve our business opportunities for the last 100 years, I'm convinced that we'll be able to do it for another 100 years more.  

Calgary has everything to offer. I can't imagine it doing anything but continuing to grow and be inclusive to all those who visit and call the city home.  

About Team Calgary: The Team Calgary corporate partnership program engages our community’s visionary thought leaders to influence Calgary’s economic growth and create long-term prosperity and opportunities for all Calgarians.   

Together, we advance the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, as the path to make Calgary the place where bright minds and big ideas come together with an unmatched spirit to help solve global challenges. 

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