Anonymity may be fine for some. But to Douglas Caldwell, chairman of Caldwell Partners International Inc., no good deed should go unrewarded.
It's part of the reason he founded Canada's Top 40 Under 40 - to celebrate unheralded young leaders and give them the recognition they deserve.
"We celebrate our hockey players, artists and literary talents quite well," Mr. Caldwell says. "But we're really lousy, as Canadians, in praising and applauding achievement in other fields."
Founded in 1995 by the executive search firm, the awards were established to honour men and women who have become outstanding leaders in their fields before the age of 40. Winners hail from all parts of the country and work in all sectors of life, whether in the public, private or not-for-profit sectors.
Recipients undergo a rigorous process for qualification. After filling out an application, the candidates are judged by an independent advisory board made up of 26 industry and community leaders chosen by Caldwell Partners. Past winners are represented on the board.
The board assesses candidates using five basic criteria: vision and leadership, innovation and achievements, the impact of their efforts, growth and strategy development, and community involvement.
Indeed, it's this last category that often proves to be most important. "This isn't just about financial performance and making money," Mr. Caldwell says. "Sometimes people put all their energies into making a go of their business or climbing the corporate ladder, and they kind of forget about the other aspects of life. We spotlight the high achievers who don't."
This year's committee sifted through more than 1,400 nominees to come up with the 40 individuals profiled on these pages.
And membership, of course, has its privileges.
Winners are flown to Toronto this week where, in addition to being fêted at a luncheon and participating in a leadership workshop, they will rub elbows with some of the most stimulating people in the country - each other.
"There's a very strong network of alumni," Mr. Caldwell says.
"The real value of the program is the talent of the individuals and how they keep on performing in their field after they've been recognized."
The top forty:
Richard Baxter, 39 British Columbia
Jean-François Bouchard, 38 Quebec
Eric Boyko, 36 Quebec
Neil Branda, 39 British Columbia
Ken Brooks, 37 Quebec
John Chambers, 39 Alberta
Tom Chau, 36 Ontario
Frank Cianciulli, 34 Ontario
David Dobbin, 36 Ontario
Mark Fraser, 34 Nova Scotia
Brendan Frey, 38 Ontario
James Harbilas, 37 Alberta
Cameron Heaps, 32 Ontario
Patrick Keeley, 37 Ontario
Johann Koss, 38 Ontario
Patrick Lamarre, 35 Ontario
Paul Langill, 39 Ontario
Kirstine Layfield, 39 Ontario
Katherine MacMillan, 37 Ontario
Joe Makowecki, 38 Alberta
Samir Manji, 37 British Columbia
Isabelle Marcoux, 37 Quebec
Tom Mawhinney, 38 Alberta
Wade Miller, 33 Manitoba
Ravinder Minhas, 24 Alberta
Mark O'Dea, 39 British Columbia
Patrick O'Regan, 36 Nova Scotia
Seamus O'Regan, 35 Ontario
Benjamin Peterson, 29 Ontario
Wayne Purboo, 39 Ontario
Vivek Rao, 39 Ontario
Aaron Schimmer, 38 Ontario
Jeff Sharpe, 35, and Matthew Young, 35 British Columbia
Dwayne Smithers, 39 Nova Scotia
Alim Somani, 28 Ontario
Jon Stanfield, 35 Nova Scotia
Sergei Tchetvertnykh, 39 Ontario
Susan Tighe, 36 Ontario
Sherah VanLaerhoven, 35 Ontario
Mark Wiseman, 36 Ontario