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Steve Allan, the Chair of the Board of Directors for Calgary Economic Development

Photo credit: Jasmine Atay

Steve Allan, the Chair of the Board of Directors for Calgary Economic Development, has taken on an expanded role of Executive Chair while our President and Chief Executive Officer Mary Moran is on a leave of absence to be CEO of Calgary 2026 (BidCo) and the bid for the Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.  

Steve is a distinguished business and community leader and served as Board Chair for Calgary Economic Development since 2014. He is a Governor of the University of Calgary, a Fellow of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta and serves on numerous boards; including the McMahon Stadium Society and the Neyaskweyahk Trust of the Ermineskin Cree Nation. Steve was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2017. He is also an Honorary Treaty Seven Chief with the name “Rides Many Horses.”

As part of our ongoing series, here are five questions with Steve Allan.

1. What is the difference between Chair and Executive Chair?

I will be active in the day-to-day operations and assume some of the roles and responsibilities of the President and CEO. I’ve always been extremely active with Calgary Economic Development as Chair, but primarily focused on working with the board to provide good governance, leadership and guidance on the strategic direction and priorities for the organization.

I am comfortable stepping into a more hands-on role with what is an excellent senior management team and staff. Our focus is to implement the long-term strategy and annual plan we’ve put in place and deliver on a series of ambitious targets we set for 2018. This is a highly capable and motivated organization and it is very much business as usual.

2. What should people know about Mary as she joins Calgary 2026?

I cannot think of a better or more qualified person than Mary to lead the Calgary 2026 bid. She is an extremely effective spokesperson for our city and has a definite understanding of how to leverage a major event like The Games to showcase Calgary as the ultimate host city and to accelerate our long-term Economic Strategy for Calgary.

I wholeheartedly supported her in taking on this challenge because I’ve seen what she’s accomplished at Calgary Economic Development. She embodies the “can-do” attitude that defines Calgary and has the passion and energy to make the most of a global opportunity as well as the tough-mindedness to ensure it makes sense for our city.

3. What gives you confidence it will be business as usual?

In the three years Mary has been President and CEO we worked hard to establish a culture of a high-performing organization. It is another of the reasons I feel confident stepping in to lead the team and achieve our goals. 

The organization is more aggressive and results-oriented than it has been previously. Everyone here knows what we need to do and that’s our focus. The main change in the senior management team is Sheila Will, our Chief Financial Officer, will assume the additional role of Chief Operating Officer. The management team otherwise stays the same and includes:

We also have the advantage of the highly skilled and deeply committed volunteer members of the Board of Directors for both Calgary Economic Development and Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund. They have all assured me they would be prepared to take on a greater role in advancing our initiatives.

4. What are the top priorities for Calgary Economic Development?

There are several, but working with our community stakeholders and civic partners to implement the economic strategy Calgary in the New Economy that was approved by City Council in June is critical. In fact, we see Calgary 2026 as a vehicle to drive the economic strategy.

There has been tremendous interest in the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund since the launch of the $100-million initiative last spring and it has been inspiring to learn about the incredible initiatives taking place throughout the city. The Fund has a separate Board of Directors that I am a member of and we are carefully scrutinizing several promising submissions and hope to make our first financial commitments from the Fund this fall.

Calgary Economic Development is also gearing up for trade missions to key global markets this fall to attract investment. We are working to take local companies on these missions to help them establish new markets and helping Calgary companies take advantage of the opportunities with our Trade Accelerator Program.

We are supporting workforce development with programs like EvolveU and Startup Calgary who are doing more and more to support our next generation of entrepreneurs. We are working with the City of Calgary on a budget submission for 2019-2022 to ensure we are adequately funded to achieve the important community mandate council has given us.

5. Is there long-term plan for the President and CEO position?

I will be in the Executive Chairman role while Mary is on leave through the end of 2018. If the city proceeds with the bid for The Games, her role will become permanent and we will conduct a search for a fulltime replacement.



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