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Top 40 Under 40 awards celebrate Canadian leaders

It's been 15 years since Doug Caldwell founded the Top 40 Under 40 awards, and the country is just learning to celebrate our own, says Ron Charles, partner in Caldwell Partners International, which runs the awards.

"Having come back from the Olympics, [it]was really a coming of age for Canada," says Mr. Charles. "We, as Canadians, are doing a much better job of celebrating our own."

Fifteen years ago, though, Mr. Caldwell believed that Canada did not celebrate its community leaders enough.

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Established in 1995, Canada's Top 40 Under 40 celebrates the achievements of Canadians who were under the age of 40 by Dec. 31, 2009. The 25 members of an independent advisory board, who work in a wide variety of fields, choose the honorees from about 1,100 nominees through a selection process based on five criteria: vision and leadership; innovation and achievement; impact; growth and development strategy; and community involvement and contribution.

"What's wonderful about this program is that every year you find out about another young Canadian who's doing something world-class," says Mr. Charles.

And these people often go on to do a wide variety of sometimes surprising things, he adds.

At random, Mr. Charles mentions five alumni of the Top 40 awards:

  • Gregor Robertson was co-founder of organic juice company Happy Planet. He then went on to become mayor of Vancouver.
  • Paul Alofs was president of HMV Canada and is now leading the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.
  • Pernille Ironside continues her work with UNICEF, now overseeing child-protection efforts in conflict zones and after natural disasters.
  • Russ Girling was vice-president of finance at Transcanada Corp. and is now succeeding Hal Kvisle as CEO.
  • Craig Kielburger, who founded Free the Children and was the youngest honoree at 23, is an activist for children's rights.

Another benefit to the awards process is that the recipients "meet leaders in Canada probably 10 years sooner than they would have otherwise," says Mr. Charles. They then become part of a network of winners and often get involved in activities like fund raising, public speaking or being on an advisory board together.

As well, with recipients coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, it can happen that, for instance, those in the financing area can help a company led by an entrepreneur who received an award.

"The winners are spread right across Canada. People are meeting people from Newfoundland to the Territories," says Mr. Charles.

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While the awards advisory board tries to keep the balance between the for-profit and the not-for-profit sectors, Mr. Charles says, the recipients themselves all share the quality of tenacity.

"These people are so driven, nothing gets in their way."

This year's Top 40 Under 40 is sponsored by Deloitte, National Bank Financial Group, WestJet, and The Globe and Mail.

Meet 2009's Top 40:

  • Ike Ahmed, 38, ONTARIO
  • William Andrew, 39, ONTARIO
  • Brian Boulanger, 34, ALBERTA
  • Dominique Brown, 31, QUEBEC
  • Linda Campbell, 39, ONTARIO
  • Kent Campbell, 39, SASKATCHEWAN
  • Eric Chouinard, 38, QUEBEC
  • François Desjardins, 39, QUEBEC
  • John Di Bert, 38, QUEBEC
  • Rob Drynan, 37, ONTARIO
  • Daniel Durocher, 38, ONTARIO
  • Philip Fayer, 31, QUEBEC
  • Bradley Fedora, 39, ALBERTA
  • Cameron Fowler, 38, ONTARIO
  • Chris Gower, 39, ONTARIO
  • François Gratton, 39, QUEBEC
  • Chris Gower, 39, ONTARIO
  • François Gratton, 39, QUEBEC
  • Ted Hastings, 35, ONTARIO
  • Christine Healy, 38, NEWFOUNDLAND
  • David Henderson, 37, ONTARIO
  • Sean Ivens, 39, NWT
  • Ali Pejman, 37, BRITISH COLUMBIA
  • Clive Oshry 39, ALBERTA
  • Rob Normandeau, 36, NOVA SCOTIA
  • Jeff Melanson, 36, ONTARIO
  • Margaret McGee, 39, NOVA SCOTIA
  • Ian Mann, 39, ALBERTA
  • Martin Lavigne, 38, QUEBEC
  • Olga Kovalchuk, 39, ALBERTA
  • Jamie King, 36, NEWFOUNDLAND
  • Paul Khairy, 38, QUEBEC
  • Michael Power, 38, ONTARIO
  • Leonardo Simon, 38, ONTARIO
  • Rahul Singh, 39, ONTARIO
  • Barry Symons, 39, ONTARIO
  • Larry Tomei, 39, ONTARIO
  • Ken Travis, 37, ALBERTA
  • Eve Tsai, 38, ONTARIO
  • John Valliant, 39, ONTARIO
  • Subodh Verma, 39, ONTARIO
  • Robert Wilfur, 38, ALBERTA

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