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With his experience in developing and managing historic assets, he brings a knowledgeable eye to opportunities that others may miss. "There are secondary markets like Niagara, Brandon or Fredericksburg where the return opportunities are just so great," he says, "they far outweigh the perceived risks."

Mr. McCrea says his best personal contribution to the creation of these properties is his conceptual creativity, his gift for lateral thinking.

"As a developer, you're constantly being told 'no,' 'it can't be done' and 'we don't want it' " he says. "You need real perseverance here, the ability to move around continual obstacles and focus on your goals."

His personal goal in life is to be able to look back "on the quality of the work we've done, the communities we've built. I want to be able to take my grandkids around some day and show them how we've positively developed the region."

Mr. McCrea derives particular satisfaction from the job opportunities Armour has created in Atlantic Canada. "We've built interesting and positive workplaces here that have a real sense of community. We are proud of never having laid any of our employees off; we are deeply sensitive to the Maritimes culture and sense of community"

Poonam Puri, 34 Associate professor of law, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto


It was on a family trip back to her parents' homeland during summer holidays that Poonam Puri discovered her calling in law.

She'd asked a favourite professor at the University of Toronto, Martin Friedland, whether she could bring him anything from India. "You know, a book, or some kind of food he liked," she recalls. "And he said, 'Yeah, sure, bring me back a couple of murder cases from the turn of the century, involving not only law but politics, the British, and I'll see if I can put together a book.'"

Ms. Puri, already a high achieving second-year student, went to work in the Indian Law Institute and the Supreme Court Library in Delhi. By getting involved in a research project, she says, "I was able to see how you can take an important public policy issue, or legal issue, work it through the process of research and come to recommendations that are useful and meaningful, taken up by policy-makers and regulators, and moved forward."

More than a decade later, Mr. Friedland is still working on his book, but his former student has earned an LLM from Harvard and gone into academia herself.

Joining the Osgoode Hall Law School at age 25, she is not only a star professor but also a meticulous researcher into issues of securities regulation and public capital markets governance. She's currently part of an Investment Dealers Association-sponsored task force to modernize securities regulation, and a member of the OSC Investor Advisory Committee. Previous projects include recommendations for rejuvenating the local bond market in Nigeria and the preparation of a bill on securities law to be tabled in the Canadian Senate.

Ms. Puri admits that she "takes on a lot," including articles, books and committee work such as helping organize Toronto's annual Brazilian Ball. But she finds it hard to say no when a particular project resonates with her.

"The projects I'm working on right now are extremely significant, not in a narrow sense to issuers and investors, but in the broader sense," she says. "I feel these issues are extremely important in the context of our entire Canadian society, in fact."

Her days, she admits, can be hectic, a balancing act between her teaching and research commitments and her family, not to mention a daily visit to the gym. She's up at the crack of dawn to make breakfast for her two little girls, Amaris and Jaidan, and she heads back up to her office when they are finally asleep to work into the night.

Sometimes that balancing act can bring about moments of almost touching incongruity. Last year, just two weeks after giving birth to her younger daughter, Ms. Puri found herself heading to the offices of Ogilvie Renault to make a presentation to the IDA-sponsored task force -- baby and nanny in tow. Unwilling to interrupt her nursing schedule, she had the baby waiting in a side room, as blissfully unaware of the task force members as they were of her. "I think Amaris has got to be the only two-week-old who's been on Bay Street," she says, laughing.

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