Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Kim Sturgess needs her space. She has lived high on the banks of the Elbow River in Springbank, just west of Calgary, for 21 years, and is acutely aware that water is essential to her - and everyone's - quality of life.

The professional engineer, entrepreneur and corporate veteran is channelling her expertise into Alberta WaterSmart, a not-for-profit group committed to improving management of the province's quickly diminishing water resources.

She says that when the South Saskatchewan River basin was closed to new water permits in August, 2006, Alberta experienced a major shift - a "now what do we do?" moment.

Story continues below advertisement

"It doesn't take much looking at the facts to see that water is the next important issue that Albertans will have to face," she says. "We're already short."

As chief executive officer of Alberta WaterSmart, the 52-year-old is leading several initiatives, including a Web portal through which entrepreneurs and researchers can communicate and share water data.

"I'm convinced the portal is our legacy," says Ms. Sturgess, who today is named, in the Professionals category, as one of Canada's Top 100 most powerful women by the Toronto-based Women's Executive Network.

Along with building public awareness about water issues, Alberta WaterSmart also works with industry. "Eighty-four per cent of the water in our province is allocated to some form of industrial use," notes Ms. Sturgess.

She has worked with Newalta Corp., Canada's largest industrial waste-management and environmental services company, to recycle and reuse oil-field wastewater for industrial purposes.

"It's a change in thinking - that water is not a waste product, but also a revenue stream," she says.

"As we develop new water-management practices, they've got to end up as new business opportunities."

Story continues below advertisement

Alberta WaterSmart is also working to influence the province's building code, which does not allow the use of recovered or recycled water to flush toilets or irrigate.

She explains: "We're not lobbyists or advocates," but rather engineers who want to create practical solutions that work for everyone.

Ms. Sturgess, whose country home is shared with two cats and a white German shepherd, Chinook, is an engineering physics major who specialized in applied magnetics at Queen's University.

She says that when she arrived at the Kingston, Ont., school, she knew she was in the right place. With a father in the military, she had lived all across Canada. "I actually spent more time at Queen's than any other place I'd lived. It became my home."

At 24, she joined Queen's University Council. Eight years later she was asked to join the board of trustees, continuing what would become a lifelong commitment to the school. "It's heady stuff to be on the board of directors of an institution of that size at that age," she says.

In 2005, Ms. Sturgess started the Sustainable Engineering Student Initiatives Endowment Fund, which helps engineering students at Queen's fund environmentally sustainable projects.

Story continues below advertisement

She is a big believer in engineers making use of their education. "Many of the best and brightest engineers transition into non-engineering careers, but wouldn't it be great to keep those bright minds involved in engineering?"

She is also a committed member of provincial and national professional engineering organizations.

"If we're going to move forward as a nation, we need to provide a strong technologically savvy work force in order to be globally competitive."

Ms. Sturgess started her career in 1977 at the National Energy Board as a gas pipeline engineer. Then she spent five years at Esso Resources Canada Ltd. as a reservoir engineer and business analyst.

After completing her MBA at the University of Western Ontario in 1984, she spent four years at McKinsey and Co. as a management consultant focusing on technology, energy and transportation projects. Later she became vice-president at Greyhound Lines of Canada.

Ms. Sturgess's first entrepreneurial endeavour was to lead the spinoff of Revolve Technologies Inc. from Nova Corp. in 1992, after serving as manager of Nova's seal and bearing group.

Story continues below advertisement

She was president and CEO of the resulting company, Revolve Magnetic Bearings Inc., until 2001. The company, which produces magnetic bearing products for high-speed industrial rotating equipment, was sold to AB SKF of Sweden in 2000.

In 2002, she co-founded Guigne Advanced Materials Ltd., which develops wear-resistant industrial products. She was also president and CEO of Pan Terra Industries Inc., a Calgary-based construction services company, from 2003 until 2005.

Now, she says, Alberta WaterSmart is her "day job."

Ms. Sturgess is the "energy that we live off of," says Fred Stewart, chair of Alberta WaterSmart's board of directors.

A former MLA and Alberta minister of technology, research and telecommunications, Mr. Stewart says that when she asked him to get involved in water issues, he was happy to oblige.

"The moment Kim talked with me, water was my new gig," he says, describing her as a team player with passion, confidence and the ability to make things happen.

Story continues below advertisement

"She's big on contacts. She knows everyone in Alberta and beyond."

Understandable, considering that she has served on the boards for countless Canadian corporations and not-for-profit groups. She is currently on the boards of the Calgary Airport Authority, Edmonton-based CCI Thermal Technologies Inc., and St. John's-based Guigne Advanced Materials.

She is also an adviser to the board of Pressure Pipe Inspection Co., and a member of the boards of the Canadian Academy of Engineering; Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta; Alberta Water Council; and Alberta Economic Development Authority.

Her achievements have been recognized with awards from Queen's University, as well as the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Science and Technology, the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Calgary Woman of Vision award.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies