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Top 40 under 40

Globe and Mail Update

ROBERT PALTER, Financial services executive

POONAM PURI, Law professor

KAREN RADFORD, Telecom executive

ALAIN RAQUEPAS, Aviation services CFO

BRIAN SCUDAMORE, Entrepreneur

SCOTT ARMOUR MCCREA, Real Estate Executive

LINDA MCCURDY, Services company CEO

ERIFILI MORFIDIS, Telecom services CEO

KEITH MULLETT, Aviation executive

SEAN MURRAY, Newspaper publisher

KARIM NADER, Psychology researcher

ANTOINE NOHRA, Financial services executive

STEPHEN SEGAL, Marketing executive

PHILIP SMITH, Investment banker

IAN WILSON, Energy services executive

LORNE ABONY, High-tech entrepreneur

PHILIP ZELAZO, Neuropsychologist

STEVEN JONES, Geneticist

DENNIS KAVELMAN, high-tech CFO

ROMA KHANNA, Media executive

CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER, Diplomat

ISABELLE HUDON, Business promoter

C.J.LOVETT LEWIS, Surveyor

BRENDA BANWELL, pediatric neurologist

CRAIG KIELBURGER, Activist

MARK COHON, High-tech CEO

DOV BERCOVICI, University administrator

PATRICK LUKE, Surgeon

JOSEE DYKUN, HR executive

PAUL CLARK, Banking executive

STEVEN DOUGLAS, Mining company CFO

ANTHONY LACAVERA, Telecom entrepreneur

JAMES DEAN, Alternative energy entrepreneur

DAVID CEOLIN, Business services entrepreneur

RUDYARD GRIFFITHS, Cultural campaigner

JASON CLEMENS, Think-tank director

JONATHAN CARROLL, Travel entrepreneur

NEIL HETHERINGTON, Charity director

JORDAN BANKS, E-commerce executive

JEAN-FRANCOIS COURVILLE, Financial services CEO

This year's awards

This is the 11th year of the Top 40 Under 40, an annual awards event organized by executive search firm The Caldwell Partners International.

The honorees are drawn annually from an initial list of 1,200 to 1,400 nominations from across Canada.

From this year's shortlist of 100, a panel of 29 business and community leaders selected the top 40 based on five criteria: vision and leadership; innovation and achievement; impact; growth/development strategy; and community involvement.

The profiles of this year's honorees were researched and written by Augusta Dwyer, Kathy English, Lisa Stephens, Michael Ryval andSalem Alaton.

Lorne Abony, 36

Chief executive officer, Fun Technologies PLC, Toronto

BY KATHY ENGLISH

As chief executive officer and co-founder of one of the world's most successful on-line gaming companies, Lorne Abony's work is all about fun with a capital F.

Mr. Abony heads Fun Technologies PLC, a market-leading developer of on-line gaming technologies. Traded on the TSX and the London Stock Exchange, the company has built an on-line community of more than 16 million gamers who pay to play games of skill on-line. Among Fun Technologies' games are the popular Bejeweled as well as solitaire, checkers and spelling quizzes. They are played on some of the busiest websites on the planet including AOL, Disney, Virgin Games, MSN and NASCAR.com.

Last November, Liberty Media Corp., controlled by U.S. billionaire John Malone, paid about $194-million (U.S.) for a 51-per-cent stake in the company, giving it a market value of about $480-million. Mr. Abony remains at the helm of this new gaming empire now set to expand into television and wireless hand-held devices.

Mr. Abony puts much stock in the value of hard work. "I'm the hardest working human being I know," he says. "I slept in a hotel room 207 nights last year. I'm a high-energy individual. My mind never stops and I'm constantly thinking of new ideas and new ways to build my businesses."

Mr. Abony, who earned a BA from McGill University in 1991 and a law degree from the University of Windsor in 1994, is an "absolute entrepreneur at heart." He briefly practised law with Aird & Berlis but left in 1998 to launch his first on-line venture: Petopia, a pet supplies company. He sold that to Petco in 2000, just prior to its IPO. In 2002, while working on his MBA at Columbia Business School, Mr. Abony and lifelong friend Andrew Rivkin became fascinated by on-line skill gaming and launched CES Software. The name was changed in 2004 when the company went public and could not obtain the CES symbol on the TSX.

But building the company has not been all fun and games. Like most Internet start-ups the company has gone through trying times -- in April, 2003, it nearly ran out of operating cash. But hard work and perseverance won out.

"You must never give up even when things are excruciatingly difficult and it would be easy to do so."

Linda McCurdy, 37

President and CEO, K-Bro Linen Systems Inc., Toronto

BY LISA STEPHENS

Changing a hotel or hospital's fresh linen may be one thing, but changing the culture of the company that delivers those linens is another.

Linda McCurdy is up to the challenge. She has transformed K-Bro Linen Systems, the supplier of linen services to the hospitality and health-care sectors, from a privately held company into an income trust traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

With the financially savvy Ms. McCurdy at the helm -- she holds both an MBA and CGA -- K-Bro has shown annual revenue growth of 10 per cent over the past five years, with earnings growth of 75 per cent over the same period. The company has successfully entered major new health-care markets by constructing a new $10-million facility in Vancouver to serve the burgeoning market there.

But although the company's financial performance has been, well, spotless, Ms. McCurdy's real satisfaction has come from what she describes as "driving through a culture of excellence" among the company's staff.

"We all have a comfort zone," she says, "and it's wonderful to move people beyond theirs into a zone of excellence."

In developing the corporate culture, Ms. McCurdy notes the importance of letting people feel free to make mistakes.

"Stuff happens," she says, "but [corporate change] is not about laying blame or retribution."

Having fun in your job is crucial, in Ms. McCurdy's view. "If you don't [enjoy your job] you'll just get burnt out."

Ms. McCurdy is sharpening K-Bro's competitive edge for what she sees as the growing challenge of containing the tremendous cost pressures that hospitals are facing.

"They're increasingly focusing on the core strength, which is patient care, and contracting out other services," she says.

Ms. McCurdy's career has taken her from accounting at the Overwaitea Food Group in B.C. to controller of Buy-Low Foods for the Jim Pattison Group there. She moved to Canadian Innovatech, a biochemical, egg and dairy processing operation with seven plants in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Europe as chief financial officer in 1996 and came aboard K-Bro as chief financial officer based in Edmonton in 1998.

Karen Radford, 37

Executive vice-president and president, Telus Quebec and Telus Partner Solutions, Montreal

BY AUGUSTA DWYER

The challenge presented by Karen Radford stems from the fact that both her work and her outside activities sound equally interesting. Freshly arrived in Montreal, where she deals with both TELUS Quebec and TELUS's Partner Solutions wing, she works with wholesale partners across North America, providing carrier and operator services, buying and selling technology.

"It's not traditional wholesale," she points out, "but everything from consulting services to smaller telcos, hiring and recruiting -- you name it. And then I do all of Quebec which is the best example of fractal geometry in the world."

For Ms. Radford, it means providing leadership to two groups of "very strong people, talent that has grown up within the organization. It's almost like finding a way to just let these people step into their own greatness, to do what they want to do." Her challenge, she says, is how to honour that history "at the same time challenging every single thought process to say, 'how do we grow more out of territory, and how do you do that with focus?' "

On a personal note, she is just settling into a new home with husband, Jason, and two small boys. "So the opportunity I have," she says, "is to get embedded in a whole new very dynamic culture, to make a new set of contacts and friends and community involvement and board involvement."

The latter is important to a woman who is full of broader ideas about what she wants from life. Originally from Moncton, N.B, she believes that being from a small city and from Atlantic Canada has taught her a great deal "about the values of and being part of your community."

Ms. Radford sits on a number of boards, including the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary. Last year, she gathered a group of like-minded friends and set up the Woman's Leadership Forum, a project that has her tremendously excited. In a matter of a few months, they organized and did fund-raising for a conference on what she calls the ABC's of leadership -- "awakening to your dreams, balance and career" -- that attracted more than 750 women from across Canada. This year, she's working to have the forum expanded to three more cities across the country.

"As a woman in business," she says, "I believe that sometimes we need someone to talk to who's living in the same world and that we can just bounce ideas off of, to ask things like, if we had the courage to act, what would we do with our lives."

While in Calgary, Ms. Radford also got involved with Women in Motion and Youth in Motion, which also mentor and promote leadership among women, youth and new immigrants.

"I really believe that the best way to make Canada a stronger country is to invest in having better leaders, stronger leaders, more and better programs for youth," she says. "It's about how to make Canada a better place, and if I look at the richness of that, it is, of course, in our children. That's where a lot of my outside activity comes from."

David Ceolin, 39

President, Digital Cement Inc.,

Toronto

BY KATHY ENGLISH

David Ceolin was 28 and working as an investment banker when he wrote The Idea Guide: The Step-By-Step Guide for Planning and Starting Your Own Business.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Ceolin's future did not lie in investment banking but rather in the business of ideas and innovation. After writing his book, he began working as a consultant specializing in marketing strategy. In 2000, Mr. Ceolin launched Digital Cement, a marketing services firm in the business of helping companies build long-term customized relationships with their customers. With 100 employees, Digital Cement is now one of Canada's larger marketing-services companies with an impressive roster of global Fortune 500 clients.

"I knew I could not accept the status quo of working within a large corporation. I needed to get out and start something innovative," Mr. Ceolin says. "I saw a huge gap in the market and I didn't just look at the Canadian market. This service is needed globally. If you want to be happy, never accept the status quo. Believe that the status quo can always be improved upon, and push to change it."

As president of Digital Cement -- a name chosen to represent the future (the digital) and the traditional (the cement that holds it all together) -- Mr. Ceolin has built a company that brings together creative, technical and business types to help customers innovate.

The company's core values -- progress, passion and performance -- are those that Mr. Ceolin strives to exemplify. "There are opportunities everywhere for those that have both integrity and passion."

Mr. Ceolin, a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University's honours business program, believes in the power of people working together and "the karma" of creating a circle of people who help one another in business. "My own philosophy is to help others that approach me for help, since I often ask others," he says. "The resulting network of like-minded souls who help one another can become the greatest asset you possess and help yourself and others achieve anything."

As he looks ahead, Mr. Ceolin, the father of two young daughters, believes this power can be harnessed to build a better world.

"We have a world that is still in imbalance in many ways -- economically, ecologically. We have the talented minds with the collective ability to help solve these issues. That's what I am interested in."

Brenda Banwell, 38

Assistant professor of pediatrics (neurology), University of Toronto;

staff neurologist, director of Pediatric MS Clinic, associate scientist, Research Institute,

Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

BY KATHY ENGLISH

Pediatric neurologist Dr. Brenda Banwell directs a world-class research program in childhood multiple sclerosis, provides ongoing care to MS patients at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and teaches neurology classes to students at the University of Toronto's medical school.

And somehow, Dr. Banwell, the mother of three busy daughters, also finds time and energy to teach aerobics classes.

"For me, success is defined as enthusiastic involvement in life," says Dr. Banwell, a world expert in pediatric multiple sclerosis. "I also believe that success in life requires a small degree of selfishness -- you must do something for 'me' otherwise there is no me left. Teaching aerobics and maintaining physical fitness is my way of achieving personal success."

Dr. Banwell received her MD from the University of Western Ontario in 1991 and went on to complete pediatric residencies at the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She then completed a neuromuscular clinical and research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

When she returned to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children to specialize in pediatric neurology, she was assigned to care for several children with multiple sclerosis, a disease of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves that can cause problems with muscle control, strength, balance, vision and sensation.

"I decided that if I was going to look after these children with MS, I had to prepare what I thought was a world-class program, and I was given the green light to create a pediatric MS clinic."

Dr. Banwell now directs both research and clinical work within the Toronto pediatric MS program. In 2004, her team published groundbreaking research in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that the Epstein-Barr virus may play a key role in triggering MS. "I feel that what we're doing in research is critically important if we're going to find out what causes this disease," she says. "But I also love the time I spend with my patients.

"I really do love my job and feel privileged to play a role in the lives of children with multiple sclerosis and other diseases," she says. "There is nothing more rewarding than feeling like what you do makes a difference."

Christopher Alexander, 37

Deputy special representative of the secretary-general for Afghanistan, United Nations

BY KATHY ENGLISH

For diplomat Christopher Alexander, now serving with the United Nations in Afghanistan, public service is indeed a higher calling.

Mr. Alexander, Canada's former ambassador to Afghanistan, was appointed last year as the deputy special representative of the secretary-general of the UN. He sought the position because of his conviction that the future of Afghanistan has great geopolitical importance.

"This, for me, was a challenge not to be missed. The UN has a central and impartial role in implementing the Afghanistan Compact -- the ambitious blueprint for the next five years of international engagement in Afghanistan," he said.

"Afghanistan is a long way from home, but the issues we are addressing here -- building democracy, reducing poverty, fighting terrorism, celebrating pluralism -- matter for the entire world."

Toronto-born Mr. Alexander earned a BA from McGill University and went on to complete a master's degree at Oxford University. He joined Canada's Foreign Affairs department in 1991 and spent much of the 1990s in Moscow.

He was appointed to Afghanistan in 2003.

While Canada continues to debate the deployment of our military in Afghanistan, for Mr. Alexander, there is absolutely no ambiguity about our country's role, or his own decision to serve there.

"Few countries in the world are as receptive to international support and to change as Afghanistan today," he says.

"To work in Afghanistan today is to be part of a partnership on a grand scale between the international community and one of the world's least-developed countries; that is its own reward."

Mr. Alexander defines success as "cleaving to the unambiguously enjoyable." For him, public service is such a vocation.

"I would like to see more Canadians recognize public service as the huge challenge and high calling that it has always been," he says. "Little quickens the spirit like serving one's country."

While public service involves decisions that engage the interests of society as a whole, he believes the formula for success is the same as in business and other walks of life -- "hard work, integrity, teamwork, breadth of spirit, openness to new ideas, indomitability.

"You know you have been successful if you change people's lives and leave stronger institutions behind you."

Scott McCrea, 39

President, Armour Group Ltd., and president and CEO, Overland Realty Ltd., HalifaxBY LISA STEPHENS

'The great joy of my profession is to create things. You may never see your manufactured stuff again, but the buildings -- the places you create -- transcend your business," says Scott McCrea, president of the Armour Group Ltd., a real estate development company in Nova Scotia.

Born and raised in Halifax, Mr. McCrea's grasp of the enduring impact of real estate development on a community comes naturally to him. He is the second generation to manage Armour, a family-held company whose roots in Halifax are anchored to the integration of the ownership, construction and management of their properties, which incorporate many of the city's historic and traditional spaces.

To these enterprises Mr. McCrea has recently added his own venture, the publicly traded Overland Realty Limited, designed to leverage his Armour experience and community development savvy into the acquisition and development of commercial real estate in secondary markets across Canada.

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

BY AUGUSTA DWYER

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.

Roma Khanna, 36

Senior vice-president of content, CHUM Television, Toronto

BY SALEM ALATON

It was while toiling in the legal and business affairs department of Sony Music Canada that Roma Khanna got caught up in the revolution.

German engineering had created a way to compress enormous amounts of audio data into readily transferable computer files. That might have made MP3 sound like a police technology, but young people had other things in mind. And so did Ms. Khanna.

"It wasn't something that everyone really understood, but it just really clicked with me," says Ms. Khanna, who came to CHUM in 2003 as vice-president of interactive media after producing cross-media editions of television programs such as Degrassi: The Next Generation and Fashion Television at Toronto's Snap Media.

The MP3 revelation didn't send Ms. Khanna scurrying to download Metallica but it did underline that entertainment industry products were about to start ricocheting around the known universe on fast-changing, multiple-access platforms. In jumping to Snap she netted three Gemini awards for http://www.Degrassi.tv, winning over adolescent eyeballs as well as hard hearts sheathed in Hugo Boss.

The Toronto-raised daughter of parents who came from India in 1965, Ms. Khanna brought a daunting level of drive to the table, with law degrees in Canada and the U.S. to complement her MBA from York University's Schulich School of Business. Fret about having to watch Stanley Kubrick films on a cellphone and she gets impatient.

"The content needs to adapt for the media," says Ms. Khanna, named last year by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter as one of the top female executives to watch in the entertainment industry. "You make content mobile [if] there's something about it that's better mobile."

CHUM Television -- with CityTV as the name leading its dozen local television stations and MuchMusic among its 21 specialty channels -- saw a kindred soul in Ms. Khanna, not to mention someone still young enough to qualify as a wunderkind.

"We're the most progressive broadcaster in North America, hands down," Ms. Khanna declares. "They hired me -- that's not a traditional choice."

Her responsibilities range from program acquisition and licensing to overseeing independent production, in-house production and, of course, the interactive division. She also manages to sit on boards for the Telefilm Canada New Media Fund, NextMedia, Canadian Women in Communications, the National Association of Television Program Executives and the Canadian Film Centre, among others.

And there's nothing like a good upbringing: "I have very strong, smart, supportive, loving parents who have always expected me to do my best, not someone else's best."

They could scarcely have known how much they were asking.

James Dean, 39

President and chief executive officer, DPoint Technologies Inc., VancouverBY MICHAEL RYVAL

James Dean had his first exposure to the fuel cell industry in 1998 when he moved to Vancouver to run KPMG's consulting practice and landed Ballard Power Systems Inc. as a client.

"What excited me was the social good it could bring by introducing environmentally friendly technologies to the world," says Mr. Dean, a Toronto native who has a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. "You can not only be socially responsible but also successful from a business perspective."

And so began an association with fuel cells that has seen Mr. Dean involved in three different companies. He got his feet wet when he and business partner David Chapman, an investment banker, took a stake in Greenlight Power Technologies Inc., a firm based in Sydney, B.C.

But in January, 2001, his career took another twist when the company was acquired by its closest rival, Hydrogenics Corp of Mississauga, Ont. In the process, it moved to Vancouver and was responsible for making test equipment. Annual sales grew to $27-million as auto manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan flocked to the division.

In 2004, bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Mr. Dean went on his own and set up DPoint. He focused on an aspect of fuel cell technology known as humidification, as many industry players complained that the existing products were too large, too expensive or performed poorly. DPoint's products humidify the air stream that is passed through a fuel cell to improve its performance and reliability.

Mr. Dean ended up back at Ballard, which had the technology, and last March signed a licensing agreement for the patents, designs and manufacturing equipment. DPoint's products are used in telecom power systems and forklifts.

Mr. Dean is a new father and active in Social Venture Partners. Through this network of 70 entrepreneurs, he is involved in Starworks Packaging and Assembly, which provides light manufacturing and assembly employment for people with mental disabilities.

"We're helping them bring in new customers," Mr. Dean says, "because we want them to be sustainable so they don't have to look to governments for funding and can plow profits back into growing their organization.

Jonathan Carroll, 38

President, itravel2000.com Inc., Mississauga, Ont.

BY KATHY ENGLISH

When Jonathan Carroll decided to follow in the footsteps of his father in the travel industry, little did he know his journey would take him into the whole new world of cyberspace.

Mr. Carroll is president of itravel2000.com Inc., Canada's largest on-line travel company. He was 26 when he launched his own travel company in 1993 to sell vacations over the telephone. He quickly moved to the Web when he realized it would become the first stop for Canadians heading away on vacation.

"I grew up in the travel industry, and I saw the market change with people moving away from travel agents and feeling comfortable buying vacations over the telephone," says Mr. Carroll, who was 17 when he became a regional sales manager with Sunquest Vacations, where his father, Edward, worked in the executive ranks.

"The Internet changed things dramatically and gave us another opportunity to communicate with our customers," he says. "A substantial part of our business is now delivered through the Internet."

But Mr. Carroll is adamant that technology is no substitute for customer service and competitive prices. "We didn't reinvent the wheel," he says.

"On-line or offline, we have to give our customers a sense of security and trust. We're selling an experience, we're selling dreams, and we're selling medicine. People are so stressed these days and they are saying, 'It's my God-given right to go on vacation.' "

Mr. Carroll's company employs 170 people. On its 10th anniversary, he flew every one of them to the Bahamas for a long weekend.

And though Mr. Carroll is the public voice of itravel2000 -- he can be heard on radio ads across Canada -- he gives large credit for the company's success to the team he's built. That includes his father, now 67, who is chairman of the company, his brother and his best friend.

"You dream of building a great company where everyone around you is happy and successful and we're doing it," the father of three says.

"I believed we could do something different in the travel industry, and if you believe in something you can't just talk about it, you have to do it."

Mr. Carroll's best career advice?

"Treat your career as a dream. Believe in yourself and never abandon your dream.

"There will be obstacles and challenges, but keep believing in yourself and your dream and it will become a reality."

Philip Zelazo, 39

Canada research chair and professor of neuropsychology, University of Toronto

BY AUGUSTA DWYER

Armed with a degree from McGill University and a PhD from Yale, Philip Zelazo is exploring an area that has until recently been the domain mostly of philosophers.

"I'm interested in consciousness and how people come to control their behaviour consciously," he says. "Quite a lot of what we do, we do for reasons that aren't entirely clear; there are genetic influences, and the environment has contingencies in it that require us to behave in certain ways and not in others."

Sometimes, however, we make a deliberate decision to do something, like break a habit.

"It's that sort of choice point I am particularly interested in: How it is that human beings are able to exercise conscious control over their thoughts and their actions and so forth?"

It's a topic "that, until fairly recently, has not been considered amenable to scientific analysis or investigation," says Dr. Zelazo, who recently finished co-editing the first comprehensive handbook on the subject.

"It was considered more a philosophical problem. But what we're starting to do in developmental cognitive neuroscience is study consciousness scientifically, using the techniques, tools and theories that scientists use."

At this stage, he has been examining how consciousness develops early in childhood.

"By looking at how this really quite mysterious and complex ability unfolds gradually in the course of childhood, we can begin to dissect it into its constituent pieces," he says.

What has him particularly excited is his study of cultural effects on this process. Together with a colleague in China, he has set up the Sino-Canadian Centre for Childhood Research and Development. Its branch at Southwest University in China carries out the same experiments with children as at the University of Toronto.

And though he wasn't expecting it, they have found "really remarkable differences," he says, "suggesting that culture plays an important role in cognitive development, and probably in neural development, from the earliest ages. There is this huge opportunity in China to look at these questions that no one's had before."

Dr. Zelazo is married to a behavioural psychologist, Laurel Bidwell Zelazo, who is finishing her doctorate at New York's Columbia University.

Their little boy, Sam, probably can't avoid being the subject of rather more personal observation.

"When you're spending a fair bit of time with one 18-month-old," his father says, "it adds a whole other kind of dimension to the picture. It rounds out the story, so it has been enlightening for me."

Erifili Morfidis, 34

President and CEO, Teleperformance Canada, TorontoBY LISA STEPHENS

'I fell into this business -- and I'm glad I did," says Erifili Morfidis, the president and CEO of Teleperformance Canada. "It provides me an outlet to deal with people in so many ways. I love the variety and the fast pace."

If beating out more than 250 candidates for the position of CEO at the company at age 23 can be described as falling into something, then Erifili Morfidis certainly landed on her feet.

Since then, she has grown Teleperformance Canada from interviewing prospective employees in a restaurant because she didn't have an office to employing more than 2,000 people in a state-of-the-art telephone contact centre that has shown double-digit growth every year since its inception in 1995. The company has become one of the world's leading suppliers of help-desk and billing call services for major international telecommunications, banking and insurance companies.

Over the past decade, Ms. Morfidis has turned the traditional call-centre concept inside out, transforming the bulk of Teleperformance's business from outbound solicitation calls for not-for-profit fundraising and market prospecting to providing Fortune 100 companies with dedicated customer services for inbound inquiries. She has created an almost unbeatable turnaround time for establishing new client call-response centres, moving the industry benchmark start-up time to within 23 business days from two months.

Ms. Morfidis says her mind works compulsively even into the wee hours of the morning, when she awakens with an idea and reaches for the phone to leave herself a voicemail message. "My poor husband has taken to batting the phone out of my hand at that hour."

Ms. Morfidis paid her way through university, earning her degrees in criminology and sociology by working at call centres. That entry-level experience evolved into her becoming the director of call services and senior trainer for Responsive Marketing Group Inc. while still in school. She describes herself as someone with real empathy for the person on the "other end" of a telemarketing phone line.

Today, Ms. Morfidis has her strategic antenna tuned to the competitive prospects of offshore call centres, even as her parent corporation, SR Teleperformance, dominates that market. "In the end, it's the people aspect of taking your call centre offshore," she notes. "And that usually means the exhausting travel time required for your senior executives to travel halfway around the world for a face to face meeting with your service suppliers."

Karim Nader, 39

Associate professor, department of psychology, McGill University, Montreal

BY LISA STEPHENS

Karim Nader sees beauty where others might see only data. His groundbreaking medical research has opened up a field of therapeutic, philosophical and artistic possibilities that are only beginning to be explored.

Dr. Nader's breakthrough discovery -- that fear-induced memories could be chemically modified or erased -- was prompted by a slideshow presented by Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel of photos of brain synapses that showed the physical connections formed by emotion and memory. The findings had been first demonstrated in 1968 but were largely ignored by researchers.

"I put the idea into my memory file as a really fun idea. When we eventually ran the experiment, I thought it was really beautiful, since the data went completely against the present field," says Dr. Nader, who is based at McGill University. "I thought: This is impossible!"

As a medical researcher, Dr. Nader later recalled the slideshow and built upon it to discover that recalled memories are not necessarily stable but can be chemically modified to reduce their traumatic emotional qualities. He's now working, as he describes it, to "turn down the gain control" on memories, so that truly traumatic experiences can be remembered and experienced with real feeling but without triggering the full emotional pandemonium of the original incident.

Dr. Nader's research could make it possible for people suffering from otherwise untreatable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to respond to conventional treatments or therapy. He stresses that his work is directed at reducing the intensity of PTSD emotions, not at removing them entirely. "That would be spooky," he says.

In the future, though, Dr. Nader's discoveries could lead to treatments for drug addiction, epilepsy and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"I'm amazed at how fast we've moved -- we went from snails to humans in just three years," he says. "And now we're testing, 'Can you therapeutically treat with this?' in just six years. So many people are getting into this field now, it's so much bigger and better than I ever could have imagined."

Born in Cairo, Dr. Nader recalls his early fascination with human physiology.

"I'd walk home from school and wiggle my finger and wonder: How does this happen?" He pursued scientific research, he says, because science is "only about the data. You can be anyone; it's about the evidence." He thinks of good scientific research as "a fun, creative way of testing things."

Dr. Nader did his undergraduate and graduate training in neuroscience at the University of Toronto, then at New York University. He joined the department of psychology at McGill University in 2001.

Dr. Nader is an avid reader of fiction, especially magical realism. On a recent trip to Prague he took only black and white film since "in my imagination the city was all about Kafka: black and grey. Instead it was brilliant colour!" he says, waxing enthusiastic at the city's beauty. "The stained glass windows . . . the blues were so rich."

Mark Cohon, 40

President and chief executive officer, AudienceView Software Corp., Toronto BY MICHAEL RYVAL

When Mark Cohon returned to Canada three years ago after a lengthy stint in the U.S. and Europe, he met two entrepreneurs who had set up AudienceView.

The company was a natural fit for Mr. Cohon. It was trying to establish itself in the ticketing business, and Mr. Cohon had roots in the sports and entertainment industries. After about three months as an adviser, he became president. Last year, he became CEO of the 70-employee company.

A graduate of Chicago's Northwestern University, where he received a Bachelors of Science and majored in communication studies, Mr. Cohon has always been one for a challenge. In 1990, he set up a charity called Youth Challenge International and led an expedition to the Arctic and Siberia with 30 Canadian and then-Soviet students. Later, he worked for Major League Baseball International as director of game development; he was charged with promoting the brand in such countries as Japan and Venezuela.

In 1994, he met David Stern, the head of the National Basketball Association, and he joined the organization as head of international marketing. During his stint he set up an office in London, U.K., where he sold television rights and licensed products throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Later, he ran the association's business-development branch and set up the NBA City restaurant in Orlando, Fla.

Mr. Cohon was drawn to AudienceView. "I had seen the dominance of TicketMaster. The only way to buy tickets was through them," Mr. Cohon says. "But this company had the idea that with more and more people buying tickets on-line, we could eliminate the middle man and offer a solution where theatres and sports teams could get into the ticket business themselves."

"People can call the Blue Jays call centre, or go to http://www.bluejays.com, or go to the box office and buy tickets directly," Mr. Cohon says. "The team's management keeps all the data on the sales, and the incremental service charges."

About 60 clients, representing 85 venues in Canada, the U.S. and U.K., have agreements with AudienceView. Clients include Wynn Las Vegas Resorts, Churchill Downs, Southampton Football Club and Mirvish Productions.

"It's not just about selling tickets," Mr. Cohon says. The software includes business intelligence tools that promote greater revenue. "It's about eventually selling a parking pass, or merchandise, or a podcast to see the highlights of the game that spectators went to. That's what we're enabling our customers to do."

When he's not busy selling the merits of AudienceView, the son of Susan and George Cohon (founder and former head of McDonald's Restaurants of Canada) has taken a page from his parents and is active in the community. In January, he was appointed chair of the Ontario Science Centre. With his long-standing interest in wildlife and the environment, he had previously served two-and-a-half years as a member of the board of trustees.

"It's a great place and it is going through a transformation," Mr. Cohon says of the centre, which has completed a $45-million capital campaign. "My objective is to take the Ontario Science Centre outside the four walls and promote science and technology to our community."

Jordan Banks, 37

Managing director, eBay Canada, Toronto

BY KATHY ENGLISH

Jordan Banks abandoned his dream job as legal counsel to the National Hockey League Players' Association to join eBay Canada as employee No. 2.

Now, as managing director of the Canadian operation, Mr. Banks has overall responsibility for the ongoing development of eBay.ca, the popular Internet shopping site.

When Mr. Jordan was initially approached about joining the California-based on-line auction website at its Canadian launch in 2000, he knew little about the eBay phenomenon and was reluctant to leave the NHLPA. But then his wife, Faith, a veterinarian, browsed eBay and discovered a ready cache of the antique veterinary tins she collects. Then Mr. Banks visited the sports memorabilia section and was "blown away" by the breadth and depth of product available. He decided to take the risk of joining the Canadian start-up.

"It was the best calculated risk I ever took," he says. "If it wasn't for my wife, I'm not sure I would have made the jump, though. When I looked at eBay through her eyes, I could see its potential."

Now, no matter where Mr. Banks goes in his business or personal life, people tell him their stories about buying and selling on eBay. Not surprisingly, many tell him they are addicted to the thrill of their eBay discoveries.

"eBay is part of the Canadian social fabric now, part of popular culture. It's a community like no other," Mr. Banks says. "No matter where you look, eBay now touches people's lives."

A graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Osgoode Hall Law School, Mr. Banks practised corporate finance law at Goodman, Phillips & Vineberg before he was lured away to the NHLPA to head up its licensing and international business operations.

Mr. Banks is also an active member of community and charitable organizations. He is the founder and chairman of Sportsfest, a non-profit group that raises funds for Alzheimer's research and care, and a board member of the Baycrest Foundation. One of his proudest accomplishments at eBay is waiving the listing fees for charitable organizations to sell their items on-line.

"Success in business means working with talented people to reach challenging goals without ever compromising my integrity or commitment to my family or community," says the father of two young children.

Anthony Lacavera, 32

Chair and chief executive officer, Globalive Communications Corp., Toronto

BY SALEM ALATON

Slapping the puck between the skates of hulking defencemen proved excellent business training for Anthony Lacavera, whose enterprise thrives on scoring through strategic gaps that telecom giants can't close.

Junior B hockey landed Mr. Lacavera scholarships at U.S. colleges after he finished high school in Welland, Ont., but computer engineering at the University of Toronto won out. "I do not have any business training from a formal aspect," says Mr. Lacavera, whose firm was ranked the No. 1 fastest growing company in Canada by Profit magazine in 2004. "Everything I've learned has been on the fly."

There's been much flying since Mr. Lacavera co-founded the company in 1998 as a niche telecom service largely for small and medium businesses. Globalive's portfolio of conventional and VoIP services now includes a wholesale audio and Web conferencing provider (Assemble), voice and data services for the hospitality industry (Canopco), a public courtesy phone network (Freefone), a billing and collections service (InterClear) and the country's largest pay-phone service provider (Canada Payphone).

"I have the benefit of not being afraid to not hesitate," says Mr. Lacavera, whose revenue on the Globalive side alone grew to $60-million in 2005 from $35-million in 2003. Sixty per cent of that comes from U.S. clients, he says. "No matter how radical it is, I do it."

Buying pay phones in an era of mobile communications certainly seemed radical, if not foolhardy, to some. But Mr. Lacavera is quick to note he's not taking all the risks or generating all the ideas himself. Globalive's strategy has put other entrepreneurs in charge of new services. "I'm quite prepared to partner with an entrepreneur rather than have an employee who is entrepreneurial," says Mr. Lacavera, who has more than 80 employees. "If they could build that business alone, why would they want to work for me?"

Given the sinkhole the telecom sector descended into soon after Globalive's birth, it's good to have such choices.

"From 1999 to 2001, ten of our first twelve customers either went into receivership or liquidated into bankruptcy," recalls Mr. Lacavera. "There were days I woke up and said, 'this can't possibly get worse' -- and then it did."

But Globalive was built on the concentrated customer service its larger competitors couldn't provide, and clients have returned the favours. "We don't have the brand equity of a Telus or a Bell, [but] we have virtually no customer turnover at all and I'm very proud of that. There's really not a lot of loyalty in the Canadian telecom market."

Sean Murray, 37

President and chief executive officer, Advocate Printing and Publishing Co., Pictou, N.S.BY LISA STEPHENS

Sean Murray's philosophy is a straightforward one: the only thing standing between yourself and success is you.

To hear the CEO tell it, "nothing is impossible." Then he adds helpfully, "Some things are expensive and may take a lot of time, but there's nothing that can't be done."

Mr. Murray's attitude has been put to the test more than once since he graduated from university in 1990 to rejoin his family's printing and newspaper publishing business, which is based in the tiny Nova Scotia hamlet of Pictou (population 3,800).

The small, traditional enterprise was growing smaller. Mr. Murray dug in and transformed the company from a small regional publisher whose most noteworthy enterprise had been the weekly Pictou newspaper into Atlantic Canada's largest and most dynamic print communications company. He led Advocate to take a pioneering role in electronic data transfer, digital proofing and commercial printing on heat-set web. The company reached out to take advantage of distance-shrinking technologies while promoting its small town values and stability.

Disaster struck in 1996 when a fire swept through Advocate's newspaper offices, photo studio and warehouse. Undaunted, Mr. Murray published a paper the very next day and processed clients' film in the company parking lot.

The unanticipated showed its hand again in 2003 when Bruce Murray, Advocate's president and Mr. Murray's father, partner and mentor, died suddenly. "I had to become an instant expert in succession planning," he says. "I give talks about it now to groups."

While dealing with the grief, Mr. Murray had to act quickly to restore client and public confidence in the viability of Advocate.

"The rumours were saying we were bankrupt, for sale, falling apart," Mr. Murray says. The company was, in fact, debt-free and rock solid, but long-time clients were hesitant. "We had to advance what was to have been a 'reasonable' business expansion into a 'major' expansion," he says.

"My father had always been the public face of the company, the clients' man. I had to promote our entire management team."

Recognizing that a regional printing enterprise would not fare well in an increasingly commoditized marketplace, Mr. Murray focused his team on choosing clients who could benefit from Advocate's consultative approach.

A source of great personal satisfaction to Mr. Murray has been Advocate's ability to provide stable employment and opportunity for his hometown community. "The opportunity to 'give back' to the way you grew up is wonderful. It's unbelievable how it changes you and your local community" when you can play a role in its development, he says. "But," he adds, "there's always more to do."

Neil Hetherington, 32

Chief executive officer, Habitat for Humanity, Toronto

BY MICHAEL RYVAL

Her name is unknown to him, but her sense of pride left an indelible mark on Neil Hetherington. While working as a volunteer in Uganda for Habitat for Humanity in the summer of 1995, Mr. Hetherington attended a dedication service in which a house was formally handed over to a widow with four children.

"That was a pivotal moment in her life," Mr. Hetherington recalls. "Her family moved out of a mud hut into a simple, decent home, one they could afford to be proud of. It was a great feeling."

From then on, Mr. Hetherington acquired "habititus" -- something he has yet to shake off. A political science graduate from the University of Western Ontario who wielded a hammer doing summertime home renovations, Mr. Hetherington returned from his African stint and worked for four years as a project manager for Tridel Corp., a major condo builder. But he felt a need to return to the cause of building homes for low-income families, and he worked for the organization as a volunteer in Toronto.

In 2000, to his own surprise, he was offered the job of heading the chapter, which at the time was little-known and completed one home every two years. "That moment in Africa was phenomenal, and considering the need in this country for affordable housing, I wanted to be part of the movement that would change that."

At 26, and with no experience in running an organization, Mr. Hetherington embarked on a path that would change it dramatically. Today, with a staff of 29 people and an army of construction volunteers, it is building 50 homes a year.

"We are helping more families than ever, and engaging more volunteers. How cool is that?"

Mr. Hetherington credits Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity in the United States, who coaxed him into raising the annual output. "He said, 'You should be doing 50.' From letters and personal calls, he really inspired me."

Finding volunteers is becoming less of a challenge, but Mr. Hetherington says it is still difficult to get land and lumber. Still, he manages to get parcels of land here and there, and companies willing to donate materials. "When you donate a door, you can see it. People want to see the tangible result of their donations. Habitat for Humanity is the best vehicle to do that."

With a target of 100 homes a year by 2010, he is looking more to corporations to supply volunteers. "We're saying, 'Why don't you get strategically philanthropic with Habitat for Humanity? You get to team-build, see the results and change the lives of families.' "

Steven J.M. Jones, 38

Head of bioinformatics and associate director, Genome Sciences Centre, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver

BY SALEM ALATON

Growing up on a sheep farm in Wales was a nascent education in biology for Steven J.M. Jones, although he scarcely realized it at the time.

"We were very interested in agriculture, selective breeding, how you could improve your blood lines," he recounts. "Of course, the process that underlies all that was completely invisible to me."

Indeed, much of what is now known of genetics was everywhere invisible and nameless then. Today, it is the emergent science of genomics, the study of DNA sequencing and gene behaviour, and bioinformatics, also known as computational biology, that is bringing a vast interior world into view, where medicine labours to learn about things that go wrong.

The endeavour is one at which Dr. Jones has already earned international prominence, serving as the key participant in a genetics investigation at Cambridge's Sanger Institute, which resulted in the computational derivation of the first-ever complete genomic sequence of a multi-cellular organism.

That was in the late 1990s, and among the attentive onlookers across the ocean was Canada's Dr. Michael Smith, co-founder of the Genome Sciences Centre.

"Dr. Smith wanted to set up a genomics centre in Vancouver which would focus the power of genomics on cancer itself," says Dr. Jones, who had previously taken a graduate degree at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. "It didn't take a huge amount of convincing."

While genomics and bioinformatics have created a surge of new science efforts globally, GSC offered Dr. Jones a context in which basic research and computational analysis on gene expression would be geared to medical applications.

"In cancer, there's a large number of changes that occur and accumulate over a number of years, and we don't really know that much about this yet," Dr. Jones says. "What makes your tumour different than someone else's? Does that allow us to infer a therapeutic approach that's going to be more effective? It all comes down to a movement toward a more personalized therapy, and clearly this is a very potent technology we have."

Dr. Jones pursues such questions with a staff of more than 180 at the centre, which is deemed "high throughput," meaning in part a lot of rapid sequencing via computational tools and algorithms.

And Dr. Jones always prefers to talk about what's next rather than what's been done: "We've only just scratched the surface on what genomics can do for all cancers and human diseases."

Josée Dykun, 37

Vice-president, human resources, Yellow Pages Group Co., Montreal

BY MICHAEL RYVAL

One of the toughest challenges Josée Dykun faced in a 17-year human resources career was in 2003 when she helped Yellow Pages Group Co. redefine its corporate culture and make it more performance-driven.

"We had to take this organization with almost 100 years of history and make it a best-in-class culture and very dynamic -- which was not the case before," says Ms. Dykun, who came to Yellow Pages Group (YPG) from Bell Mobility Inc., based in Mississauga, Ont., after a three-year stint as senior director of HR.

Canada's largest publisher of telephone directories, YPG was formerly known as Bell ActiMedia Inc., part of the Bell Canada family. It has been part of Yellow Pages Income Fund since the income trust went public in August, 2003.

In March of that year, Ms. Dykun stepped into her post and brought the company's 12-person executive team together to define the vision and values that would guide the organization. The team took into consideration earlier findings from employee focus groups. Out of that exercise emerged six key values: customer focus, compete to win, teamwork, passion, respect, and open and honest communications.

As well, Ms. Dykun helped to identify human resource programs that would raise the bar on talent.

"As we broke away from Bell, it created a great opportunity. We had to rebuild some corporate functions. But we wanted to make sure we had the best-of-the-best around the table," says Ms. Dykun, who grew up in Drummondville, Que., and later moved to Toronto where she graduated with a human resources management certificate from Seneca College.

YPG had 1,400 employees at the time of the strategic redesign. It was part of Ms. Dykun's role to communicate the company's vision, mission and values. "Those three key elements have to be lived on a daily basis throughout the organization. If all the employees are pulling in the same direction it will drive our success."

Three years later, Ms. Dykun is proud that the company has created a best-in-class culture. "But most important, we have a retention rate of 94 per cent of the management team that we recruited over the last few years."

Indeed, as testament to the transformation of the company -- which has grown to 2,700 employees -- it was honoured last year by Canadian Business magazine. "We were ranked seventh in the top ten most admired corporate cultures in Canada," she says.

A mother of two boys, she is also a hockey mom and team manager.

Jean-Francois Courville, 37

President and chief executive officer, State Street Canada, TorontoBY MICHAEL RYVAL

Jean-Francois Courville had the proverbial baptism by fire as a currency trader. Fresh out of McGill University, with a bachelor of commerce in 1991, he joined National Bank in Montreal and traded products such as currency forwards and options. Among other crises he had deal with was the European exchange rate mechanism debacle that caused global currencies to gyrate and the gradual decline of the Canadian dollar.

"It was an interesting time with a lot of tensions in the market," says Mr. Courville, who hadn't considered a career in financial markets until a personal invitation allowed him to see a trader in action.

"Back then, everybody was screaming and shouting. It was messy and noisy -- but a great adrenalin rush."

It's been all that and more over the past decade and a half. Mr. Courville has worked his way up through a succession of industry postings to the point where he is chief executive officer of State Street Canada, a branch of Boston-based State Street Corp., the world's leading provider of financial services to institutional investors.

While the parent company may be unknown to the average Canadian, it is one of the largest custodial firms and boasts $10-trillion (U.S.), or about 15 per cent of the world's investable assets. It is also the world's largest institutional money manager and oversees $1.6-trillion in assets.

Mr. Courville joined the organization in 1996 after a four-and-a-half-year spell at National Bank. At State Street, he began as an executive in Montreal responsible for building its foreign exchange trading and management capability. He met Stanley Shelton, executive vice-president at State Street Global Markets (SSGM), who persuaded Mr. Courville that participating in State Street's growth in Canada was an obvious choice.

"The mission was to radically improve investor access to financial markets and provide better tools to manage portfolios," he says. "It was all about sharing intelligence more openly. In ten minutes, I was convinced this was it for me."

In 2000, Mr. Courville moved to Toronto, where he became managing director responsible for the Canadian unit of State Street's Global Markets division. He was particularly successful in positioning the firm as a major currency trader. "That was our biggest milestone: establishing ourselves as a 'go-to' services provider for Canadian institutions."

After a five month stay in Boston as a senior vice-president and global head of client development for SSGM, he was promoted to head of the Canadian operations in January, 2005.

Overseeing 1,100 employees in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Mr. Courville is responsible for managing the integration of all the company's activities under one co-ordinated strategy. A father of two and an avid cyclist and skier, Mr. Courville spends his off-hours with his family or volunteering for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Homes First. "Toronto has a real homeless and affordable housing issue," he says. "These organizations are key to providing real solutions."

Dov Bercovici, 37

Vice-president of operations, Acadia University, Wolfville, N.S.

BY KATHY ENGLISH

Dov Bercovici has often been described as "the quintessential people person," a leadership quality he puts to good use in striving to bring a spirit of entrepreneurship to academia.

Mr. Bercovici is in charge of leveraging Acadia University's assets to generate revenue. That can mean anything from selling conference planners on the school's location in the beautiful Annapolis Valley to persuading faculty to sell their ideas.

With so many diverse stakeholders within the academy, Mr. Bercovici relies heavily on his people skills to bring together resources and opportunities.

"I can get along with almost anyone," he says.

"I try to find common ground with every person I meet and I truly believe you are selling people, not projects.

"Interpersonal acumen has helped me sell ideas, products and services very effectively."

Indeed, Mr. Bercovici has sold some faculty members on the concept of marketing their mastery.

He is now also the president of MusicPath Inc., a faculty-owned software company that enables interactive on-line master music class instruction. The MusicPath software was developed by Acadia faculty members Christoph Both and Jim Diamond, who turned to Mr. Bercovici to market their innovation to schools and conservatories across Canada.

"Innovation is the successful implementation of an idea -- it's not just the idea," Mr. Bercovici says.

Previous to joining Acadia in 2001, Mr. Bercovici was general manager of the World Trade Centre in Halifax. He holds a BA in economics from McGill University and an MBA in international marketing from Dalhousie University and is also one of the first of 40 individuals in Canada to receive the Certified International Trade Professionals designation.

Married with two children, Mr. Bercovici has long given back to his community through charitable endeavours.

As a result of finding cost savings for the university in energy conservation, he has grown increasingly interested in the challenge of sustainable development and the environment.

"Success to me is defined by intrinsic factors -- did I finish the week, month or year with a sense that I accomplished something bigger than me?

'Will my contributions have a positive ripple effect?"

Brian Scudamore, 36

Founder and CEO, 1-800-Got Junk?, Vancouver

BY AUGUSTA DWYER

Okay, let's get the first question out of the way. What was it like appearing on Oprah?

"Pretty cool," Brian Scudamore says. "And I'm someone who, when I give a speech or do an interview, there's a little bit of nervousness, and, you know, with Oprah, I thought I was going to be crazy nervous. But I was just going, wow, is this unreal."

In fact, it had always been one of Mr. Scudamore's goals to give Ms. Winfrey, someone he's long admired, a hug. It was up there on the head office's "Can You Imagine?" wall, along with "Can you imagine us hitting a billion in sales?"

Mr. Scudamore founded his company at age 18, hoping to earn some cash to pay for university. But he soon realized he was learning more about business with his junk-hauling service than he was in the University of British Columbia's commerce course -- and having more fun to boot.

Today, 1-800-Got-Junk?'s growth -- from $1-million in revenue in 1999 to $66-million last year -- is almost as mind-boggling as some of the items the company has been hired to cart away: prosthetic legs, a defused Second World War bomb, 18,000 cans of expired sardines and an entire McDonald's McHappy Land play set.

What's more, only about 40 per cent of that goes to landfill; the rest is recycled and donated to charities.

"I'll sit back and look at the growth for about two seconds, then go, okay, so how do we get it bigger?" he says.

"For me, business is a game, and is all about growth."

With 246 franchises and a current earnings trend of $119-million, Mr. Scudamore's ambition is to build what he calls "the Fed-Ex of junk removal. Clean, shiny trucks, friendly, uniformed drivers, and service upfront."

Among the many highlights of Mr. Scudamore's life has been the Birthing of Giants course he took at Boston's prestigious MIT. With a 10-per-cent acceptance rate and entrepreneurs the average age of 35 doing a minimum $3-million a year in sales, "it was the best course I've ever taken," he says, "almost like a university for all these ADHD, high-growth, don't-follow-the-rules, don't-pay-attention-type students. We came together and the bond was unbelievable, the networking and learning among ourselves even better."

The kind of boss who eschews a private office to hijack vacant desks around what employees call the Junktion, close rapport with his staff is a high priority.

"I feel I'm doing a good job if I can help everyone in this company grow to the point where one day we're looked at not for what we built, but how we built it," Mr. Scudamore says.

His goals include transforming 1-800-Got-Junk? into a globally admired brand, and, of course, hitting that billion a year in sales, something he's targeted for 2012.

Dov Bercovici, 37

Vice-president of operations, Acadia University, Wolfville, N.S.

BY KATHY ENGLISH

Dov Bercovici has often been described as "the quintessential people person," a leadership quality he puts to good use in striving to bring a spirit of entrepreneurship to academia.

Mr. Bercovici is in charge of leveraging Acadia University's assets to generate revenue. That can mean anything from selling conference planners on the school's location in the beautiful Annapolis Valley to persuading faculty to sell their ideas.

With so many diverse stakeholders within the academy, Mr. Bercovici relies heavily on his people skills to bring together resources and opportunities.

"I can get along with almost anyone," he says.

"I try to find common ground with every person I meet and I truly believe you are selling people, not projects.

"Interpersonal acumen has helped me sell ideas, products and services very effectively."

Indeed, Mr. Bercovici has sold some faculty members on the concept of marketing their mastery.

He is now also the president of MusicPath Inc., a faculty-owned software company that enables interactive on-line master music class instruction. The MusicPath software was developed by Acadia faculty members Christoph Both and Jim Diamond, who turned to Mr. Bercovici to market their innovation to schools and conservatories across Canada.

"Innovation is the successful implementation of an idea -- it's not just the idea," Mr. Bercovici says.

Previous to joining Acadia in 2001, Mr. Bercovici was general manager of the World Trade Centre in Halifax. He holds a BA in economics from McGill University and an MBA in international marketing from Dalhousie University and is also one of the first of 40 individuals in Canada to receive the Certified International Trade Professionals designation.

Married with two children, Mr. Bercovici has long given back to his community through charitable endeavours.

As a result of finding cost savings for the university in energy conservation, he has grown increasingly interested in the challenge of sustainable development and the environment.

"Success to me is defined by intrinsic factors -- did I finish the week, month or year with a sense that I accomplished something bigger than me?

'Will my contributions have a positive ripple effect?"

Craig Kielburger, 23

Chair and founder, Free the Children, Toronto

BY SALEM ALATON

Some people thought he'd surely peaked at age 13.

By then, Craig Kielburger of Thornhill, Ont., was one of the most famous children in the world, profiled internationally in the press and on such major TV journals as 60 Minutes.

He'd met with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Mother Teresa and addressed a gathering of U.S. congressional leaders.

It all sprang from reading a newspaper article about a Pakistani boy of 12 -- Mr. Kielburger's age at the time -- who spoke out about his forced-labour plight and was murdered in retaliation. Mr. Kielburger gathered some classmates to form Free the Children to protest such atrocities and became an overnight media sensation when he staged a press conference during a seven-week tour of Southeast Asia (with an adult chaperone) to demand that the Prime Minister increase Canada's attention to human rights.

Staffed largely by youth and as much as 70 per cent funded by donations from schoolchildren, Free the Children has to date built some 420 schools in the developing world, provided $9-million (U.S.) in medical supplies and been nominated three times since 2002 for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The phenomenon, in a word, continues today through a professional development agency that has helped create programs for such heavy hitters as Oprah Winfrey's charity.

"I think my parents were teachers both inside and outside the classroom," says Mr. Kielburger, just back from a month-long tour of some of the 40-plus countries where Free the Children has been active. "We'd walk by a homeless person and my mom would actually stop and talk to him or her, ask their name. My mom was nurturing the idea that that's a person. When you look into their eyes and know their name, you have to acknowledge them."

Mr. Kielburger also has an influential sibling. Older brother Marc, chief executive director of the charity and a past Top 40 Under 40 honouree, is a lawyer and Rhodes Scholar who eschewed lucrative private-sector offers to be Mr. Kielburger's co-pilot.

"Every CEO wishes she or he could clone themselves, and we have done that," says Mr. Kielburger, who co-wrote the bestselling paean to volunteerism Me to We with his brother. In 1999, the pair formed Leaders Today, a youth leadership training organization that now claims to reach 350,000 youth annually.

Mr. Kielburger was last month awarded the 2006 World Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child, also known as the Children's Nobel Prize.

Previous winners include former South African president Nelson Mandela and Iqbal Masih, the child slave whose death sparked Mr. Kielburger's campaign.

Not everyone was enamoured of Mr. Kielburger when he was a kid making headlines, and some may still criticize Free the Children for always claiming to have the answers to the world's most difficult problems.

Yet when he speaks of illiterate parents who witlessly sell their children into bondage, Mr. Kielburger is a hard man to deny.

Free the Children builds and supports all those schools, after all, "because when you're talking about child poverty, every issue fundamentally comes back to education."

Stephen Segal, 36

Vice-president of marketing and sales, Loewen, Steinbach, Man.

BY AUGUSTA DWYER

Stephen Segal admits he's hard to pin down.

"People ask me, 'What are you? Are you an architect? A computer guy? An IT guy? Are you a marketer, a salesperson?'

"And I guess," he pauses, "I'm all of that."

A Winnipegger by birth and inclination, Mr. Segal studied to be an architect, which "provides good didactic, problem-solving methodology I can apply to business and personal life."

But he went on to take positions that veered from the course, quite consciously, he admits -- and one of the reasons behind his success.

"I didn't at 18 or 19 say, 'At 40, this is what I want to be.' I sort of looked, kept my mind open at every stage of the process to new opportunities, to not be afraid to challenge and think outside of the areas I've been trained in."

Since graduating he has taught computer graphics and animation, started his own company, sold it and worked for the financial services software company that bought it.

He has also done marketing and sales, and he designed and built a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing plant for EH Price Ltd.

From there, he went to Loewen, a company with interesting roots of its own.

Originally begun by a Mennonite family that made church pews and bee boxes, Loewen now designs gorgeous, luxury-end wooden doors and windows for an increasingly discerning international market yet maintains its commitment to ethical business practice.

"That definitely attracted me," Mr. Segal says. "I was very excited about the way the Loewen family and everyone who works here treats our business -- its very high degree of ethics, the importance of culture and customer service, and hard work."

Obviously the design element of the business also attracts. Mr. Segal reads architectural periodicals and attends design shows in his spare time; he also designed the home he shares with his wife and two children.

Remaining spare time goes to charity work, such as the Manitoba Theatre Centre and a group of entrepreneurs younger than 40 called the Young Associates.

As for his goals, Mr. Segal says, "We obviously want to continue to grow and to dominate the luxury segment; we see lots of opportunity to continue to broaden our service and product offering, to attract new dealers and gain more market share in North America and abroad."

Personally, he wants to continue learning and sharpening his many skills.

"I always want to continue to add value to the organizations I am within, and to do so in new ways that are a benefit both to the organization and to myself personally," he says.

"I think that my history is evidence of my ability to get very quickly up to speed in new areas."

What's more, he adds, "I love the variation. Variation drives the mind."

Patrick P.W. Luke, 36

Associate professor of surgery, University of Western Ontario; surgical director of renal/pancreas transplantation, attending surgeon, London Health Sciences Centre, London

BY SALEM ALATON

If you wouldn't want to be the first patient to try a new medical procedure, you probably don't need it badly enough.

Many of Dr. Patrick P.W. Luke's patients -- who suffer advanced kidney or pancreatic failure, and sometimes both -- do. Also inspiring confidence is the long list of scientific awards, prizes and scholarships that is attached to him, not only since emerging in 1993 from the University of Toronto Medical School but from being an adolescent science star at Upper Canada College.

The upshot has been the opportunity in 2003 to conduct Canada's first robotic surgery in urology, followed the next year by the first combined kidney-pancreas transplant to be performed at London Health Sciences Centre, a site of the Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics research program.

Dr. Luke also scored a North American first in 2004 when he removed a renal aneurysm aided by a surgical robot.

And a medical conference featured him conducting from the convention floor in Toronto a robotic surgery 200 kilometres away on a training model on the operating table at LHSC.

"I've been very fortunate," says Dr. Luke, who also does basic research on the antibodies involved in transplants. "It's amazing to be able to walk into work one day and know we're doing organ transplantation, [and] the next day, robotic surgery."

The good fortune cuts both ways; having done clinical and research fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Toronto native Dr. Luke had more than enough woo pitched his way to keep him from setting foot in Ontario again.

"U.S. transplant physicians and surgeons travel from one institution to the next as they build their careers. I can't imagine moving my family four or five times," says Dr. Luke, who has three children younger than age 10. "My family and I have decided to stay in Canada."

Dr. Luke's hunger to see advances in his field -- where there is an increasing effort to enlist living donors while even available organs from cadavers are agonizingly few -- means taking no premature bows.

"These are just second- or third-generation robots that we're using," he says. "We're going to see whole new lines to come."

Robotics is still challenging for many surgeons, disrupting the usual continuum of hand-eye co-ordination, and it hasn't won everyone over. Dr. Luke believes robotics improves precision and dexterity, along with greatly reducing the invasiveness of surgery.

"Even some of our mentors and senior surgeons are among our strongest proponents," he notes.

Philip Smith, 39

Managing director and head of investment banking, Scotia Capital Inc., Toronto

BY AUGUSTA DWYER

Heading a department that does hundreds of transactions underwriting billions of dollars for companies throughout North America every year, Philip Smith seems comfortable with big challenges.

The business of investment banking, he says, "is very, very competitive, highly so, and if you're a competitive person and you thrive off that, it's very enjoyable."

With a degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA in analytical finance from the University of Chicago, his work isn't the only place where he likes to meet a challenge.

A fan of road biking, Mr. Smith rode with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong two years ago on a mounting, 4,000-foot gradient from Longview, Alta., over the Highland Pass to Kananaskis to raise money for cancer research.

"It was pretty tough," he says. "But if you're a cyclist, it's kind of like the ultimate."

Mr. Smith considers himself fortunate to have built a solid 12-year career at Scotia Capital, the investment arm of Canada's fourth largest bank.

A key to his success, he believes, is an ability to identify the company's competitive advantages and weaknesses "and to focus on building the former and addressing the latter. And out of that," he says, "to focus on the business we should be doing, based on our abilities.

The danger in this business, which is very broad, is "to spread out and pretend to be something you're not. And in all the roles I've had, it's been to clarify what the mandate is and to focus on that. That's allowed us to be pretty successful."

With two young children and a third on the way, Mr. Smith devotes spare time to the board of the Investment Dealers Association as well as the board of the Toronto Zoo Foundation.

His involvement with the zoo stems from a strong sense of place -- "I could have worked in New York, but didn't really want to," he says -- and real affection for the city where he grew up. "I'm very passionate about Toronto and its neighbourhoods and things that make Toronto different and interesting, like the zoo, which is a world class organization."

To that end, he takes on more than many Torontonians do and certainly more than many bankers, organizing his neighbours to clean up litter and paint over graffiti.

"Nothing drives me crazier than garbage and graffiti. I just put up placards and did a mail drop and got people of like mind to come out and clean up the ravines and encourage a stewardship program," he says. "That's your park, that's your alley, that's your ravine. If you see something, pick it up. Don't just assume someone else will do it."

C.J. Lovett Lewis, 38

President, Cansel Survey Equipment Ltd.

Burnaby, B.C.

BY SALEM ALATON

Sales through the Internet? Not really. Out to conquer the U.S. market? No need. Snazzy personal transportation? Prefers tramping in the bush.

C.J. Lovett Lewis never did set out to be an executive entrepreneur, and he's still not much like most others of that breed. Nonetheless, sales more than tripled to more than $50-million at Cansel Survey Equipment within three years of Mr. Lewis buying in 2002 the firm he had joined as a sales rep a decade earlier.

"I started in sales with what I'd say is a typical engineer's output," says Mr. Lewis, who holds a graduate degree in geodesy and global positioning systems from the University of New Brunswick in his boyhood province. "People bought products when they needed products. I wasn't sure how I was going to influence that."

He found out, increasing Cansel's sales of emergent GPS technology tenfold in his first year, employing both his passion for surveying -- sparked at age 15 when his parents had a property survey done and Mr. Lewis was riveted by the process -- and a customer-centred approach low on the usual hustle.

"At the end of the day, if it's not to be, let's not waste each other's time," he says of his sales philosophy.

Simple enough, and it seems to work.

"Our expectations for the next three years is continuous growth at 25 to 30 per cent, kind of like what we've been experiencing the last four years or so."

It hasn't hurt that such traditional client sectors for surveying services as construction, forestry, mining and municipal-infrastructure development have been robust. The technology boom in GPS has also kept the flow of innovations high. In addition to selling the equipment, Cansel services and repairs it and offers professional data packages for surveying firms.

The technology may be cutting edge, but the sales -- half of them to companies with five employees or fewer -- are old school.

"A lot of the customers who buy our products are changing their business," Mr. Lewis says. "They want to see it, touch it, feel it out. The level of acceptance has been much lower than we would have expected for using the Internet to purchase our products."

Moreover, the surveying business is too different in the U.S. to bother with for now, says Mr. Lewis, who sees more potential in Canada than the sector can handle. Keith Mullet, 35

Managing director

of European operations,

CHC Helicopter Corp.,

Vancouver

BY LISA STEPHENS

The guy who keeps the world's largest helicopter fleet flying throughout Europe concedes he doesn't have a pilot's license. Keith Mullet says he's never actually had the time -- he's been too busy building one of Canada's great international success stories on the ground.

CHC Helicopter provides airlift services for the global offshore oil-and-gas industry.

It is also pioneering the private contracting of search and rescue services for European civil governments.

Mr. Mullet, a chartered accountant by training, has a very simple explanation for his success: "I'm surrounded by people who know more than I do. They're very highly skilled at what they do."

"You are always learning here," he adds. "We're not just selling widgets. What we do is very technical and constantly changing. Our oil and gas clients have very fast-paced needs that change from day to day."

The St. John's native, now based in Aberdeen, Scotland, has moved quickly since arriving in Europe. Mr. Mullet consolidated CHC's European business units into a single integrated operation that created the first cross-national structure of its kind in the industry, resulting in more than $20-million in savings. A radical restructuring of the company's U.K. pension plan led to the longest term union agreements ever achieved in that jurisdiction, creating improved employee satisfaction and attracting scarce skilled labour to the operation.

Mr. Mullet's current challenge is one of implementing a major change in the technology of his helicopter fleet. CHC is transforming its aircraft from the state-of-the art of the present day into the helicopter fleet of the future, bringing new types of aircraft on-line.

"These are helicopters no one has ever seen before," Mr. Mullet says. "The last time this was done was 20 years ago."

Another major initiative has been Mr. Mullet's spearheading of CHC's move into privately contracted search and rescue services for European governments.

Until recently, most air rescue was provided by military services, but European governments are looking to the private sector for cost effectiveness and more consistent staff support.

At the moment, though, Mr. Mullet is expecting another imminent airlift: from the stork. His third child is due any day, so he's sticking close to home base in Scotland.

Antoine Nohra, 36

Chairman,

Credico Marketing Inc., Montreal

BY LISA STEPHENS

To discern the secret of Antoine Nohra's success, you need only ask the personable chairman of Credico Marketing to talk about himself.

The interviewer will discover that somehow the tables have been turned, and the subject of the conversation has unaccountably become the interviewer's interests, not Mr. Nohra's.

That he naturally shifts his focus onto his guest is evidence of the strong relationship-building skills that have propelled Mr. Nohra's companies, Credico Marketing and Cardex, into the top rank of international face-to-face credit card acquisition companies.

They dominate 70 per cent of the market in Canada alone and deliver the privately held venture more than $80-million in revenue annually. Clients include major banks and retailers worldwide.

"I do love people," he says. "It can be anyone; I always establish a relationship with everyone in the room. I have no problem going through the receptionist, the assistants, the advisers before I meet the person I want to see.

"I like to bring out the best in others: that's my real pleasure in life," he adds.

Complimented about his award, he quickly demurs.

"You know, I should cut this Top 40 [award] into pieces and give it to so many people in my company."

His proudest boast?

"I like to think that I offer every new employee a chance to succeed equal to the one I had when I began."

Mr. Nohra's first opportunity in Canada wasn't obviously fraught with promise. Arriving from Beirut with a degree in business administration, he chose Montreal because he could speak only French. But he quickly discovered that without "Canadian experience" his employment opportunities were fairly limited.

Mr. Nohra finally applied to a credit card marketing organization and said he'd be willing to work "out of town" instead of the Montreal territory that everyone else coveted.

"They said, 'Okay, you've got Corner Brook,' " on the west coast of Newfoundland.

"I didn't even know where it was. I thought it was a suburb," he says, laughing.

Nevertheless, he quickly became the company's top salesman. "It was like a dream to get promoted to Halifax."

Beginning at home 14 years ago with a $5,000 loan and a commitment to grow beyond the mom-and-pop model that was the norm among credit card recruitment companies at the time, Mr. Nohra now employs more than 1,400 people worldwide.

Rudyard Griffiths, 35

Executive director, Dominion Institute, Toronto

BY MICHAEL RYVAL

When Canada went to the brink in the Quebec referendum in 1995, Rudyard Griffiths resolved to bridge a widening gap in the country's sense of identity. On Canada Day, 1997, he and two friends, Eric Penz and Michael Chong, launched the Dominion Institute, a non-government organization dedicated to making Canadians, young and old, care about their own country.

"The near-separation of Quebec wasn't driven by economic reasons or geopolitical issues. It was driven by a loss of shared memory on the part of English and French Canada in terms of what they had accomplished together since the country's founding," recalls Mr. Griffiths, a former policy analyst at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who has a masters degree in Philosophy from Cambridge University. "The institute was created with the idea that a strong sense of identity had to be based on an equally strong sense of memory. And commitment to the ideals of responsible citizenship, such as voter participation."

Mr. Griffiths and his colleagues caused a stir when they published a survey of Canadians' knowledge of their own history. Only one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds, for instance, knew that Confederation occurred in 1867. "We got a lot of attention and brought to light the erosion of common memory and the collective amnesia on the part of many people when it comes to an awareness of their history," he says.

Launched with a $150,000 start-up grant from the Donner Canadian Foundation, the institute hasn't looked back since. With a staff of 14 and a budget of $2-million, the institute boasts a rich collection of programs that have touched hundreds of thousands of Canadians. To date, the organization has raised $11-million.

Among its initiatives is Youth Vote, which has sought to engage disaffected young voters.

The institute boasts a speakers' bureau of about 1,500 veterans who share their stories with students.

"We are also proud of our ability to draw together people from different parts of the political spectrum and bring them together around the common cause of promoting Canadian history and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship," he says.

Mr. Griffiths is also an adviser to the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Recently, he helped the organization launch a new institute for Canada-U.S. relations.

Mr. Griffiths would like other young people to follow his example. "We've created a different model for an NGO," he says. "One which is run more like a production company than a traditional charity." Jason Clemens, 35

Director of fiscal studies, the Fraser Institute, Vancouver

BY MICHAEL RYVAL

Being open to workplace opportunities is a virtue, as Jason Clemens learned early on.

In 1996, Mr. Clemens had an opportunity to work as a summer intern at the Fraser Institute, a leading public-policy think tank.

"I was on a path to corporate and commercial banking; that's where my schooling was aimed," recalls Mr. Clemens, who was then completing an MBA at the University of Windsor. "But, unlike a lot of other internship programs, this one was actually about research and you were able to work closely with senior staff."

That four-month experience, combined with research that he did for Betty Jane Punnett, a business professor at the university, opened doors that he had not considered. "There was a fork in the road and I took a path I hadn't expected to take. I really enjoyed research."

A full-time member of the institute since September, 1997, a father of two and a competitive soccer player, Mr. Clemens has written or co-written 27 major studies and more than 160 articles for Fraser Forum, the institute's monthly magazine. He has also appeared as an expert witness before the Senate and House of Commons on issues ranging from government budgets to small business finance, not to mention published articles in the Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail and other newspapers.

As director of fiscal studies, Mr. Clemens oversees four research departments with a total budget of more than $800,000 and three full-time and one part-time staff members. His department uses a team approach, Mr. Clemens says. One person is a project leader who is supported by other team members. In some cases, he assigns a team leader and does not get involved in a project until the end when he reviews it and gets feedback. In other cases, he acts as the team leader and is involved from start to finish.

The institute, which is non-partisan, regularly criticizes governments of all stripes on issues such as high taxes. As a result, it's been the butt of many a barb. For instance, former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Clyde Wells called the institute "the intellectual wing of the KKK."

Nevertheless, Mr. Clemens shrugs off jibes and says that many of the institute's proposals have been implemented over the years.

"We're seeing improvements in almost all of the areas we actively engage: taxes, the size of government, entrepreneurship, health care, and education," Mr. Clemens says. "That's not to say we don't need more improvement. But we are moving in the right direction."

Steven Douglas, 38

Executive vice-president and CFO, Falconbridge Ltd., Toronto

BY LISA STEPHENS

As the financial point man who co-ordinated the recent massive Inco Ltd. and Falconbridge Corp. merger, creating the largest base metals mining company in North America and the fifth largest in the world, Steven Douglas doesn't look like the sort who'd need much mentoring from minds better than his.

But he'd be the first to disagree.

"You can never stop self-assessing your work," he says. "You've got to be continually getting feedback from your colleagues and being brutally honest with yourself about what you need to improve."

Even the most prime athlete is never without a good coach, and Mr. Douglas relies on his teammates to keep him on track. "You can't lose yourself or hide behind titles and responsibilities," he says. "You have to have the ability to open your ears and listen."

As CFO of Brookfield Properties Corp. of Toronto, Canada's largest publicly traded real estate company, from 1996 to 2003, he saw the company's asset base grow from $4-billion to more than $12-billion. He steered the company onto the New York Stock Exchange in 1999 and saw total shareholder returns increase 30 per cent compounded annually during his tenure.

He joined Noranda Inc. in time to lead a team initiative to refinance bank credit agreements following the merger of Noranda and Falconbridge, acquiring $780-million (U.S.) in bank credit facilities to fund future growth and placing the restructured mining organization in a position to be acquired by Inco.

The key to his industry is riding out economic cycles, Mr. Douglas says. "It's vital that we not forget [economic] history in what we do. Anybody who thinks they can wave a magic wand and make business cycles disappear" probably won't be around for the next one.

What does he find most rewarding about his career?

"As corny as it sounds, it's really more fulfilling to see people around you succeed with you," he says. "Nothing you can really achieve is without support from others."

Isabelle Hudon, 39

President and CEO, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal

BY SALEM ALATON

The largest chamber of commerce in the country hardly knew what hit it when Isabelle Hudon blew in as communications director in January, 2002, hardly three years before being handed the entire shop.

Hopscotching from communication roles in the Mulroney government to a fast series of private-sector posts, the telegenic tempest brought a new unorthodoxy to the 180-year-old Montreal Board of Trade: Montreal was as important to business as business was to Montreal.

"There is no good economic development without a good social climate," says Ms. Hudon, who reached out to academe and the arts while creating a fast makeover in the board's image, not least by lending it her image.

Separate English and French boards of trade had finally merged in Montreal in 1993, and even allophones were appearing among the roughly 7,000 members. But the contemporary-minded Ms. Hudon was far from sure the Board looked like home when it first called.

"Nothing sounded like me," she declares. "I had an image of not a very jazzy place."

Still, having snagged PR management roles at Bell Global Solutions, the Canadian Space Agency, Bombardier Aerospace and BCE Media in a period of less than three years after a brief executive assistant stint with Mila Mulroney, Ms. Hudon didn't sweat the move.

"In all the jobs I had, I reacted very quickly, love the job or not love the job. I did not ask too many questions."

Even Ms. Hudon's education trajectory had been a restless one, bouncing from University of Montreal to University of Ottawa to complete a degree in business administration: "I was not a good student at the university level. It was too slow for me and I got bored very easily."

The real education began right after school with Ms. Hudon following her political instincts -- centre-right with a nod to social protections, she says -- into the Quebec wing of the Progressive Conservative Party as a regional organizer for fundraising and membership. That led to a press secretary spot with Minister for External Relations Monique Landry.

"Politics is a great place to learn if you know how to deal with power and not be overwhelmed with power," Ms. Hudon says.

No chance. When it was her turn to wield power at the Board of Trade, Ms. Hudon simply invoked to herself all the advice she had given the politicos as their media manager: "I now have to act the way I trained them to act."

Paul Clark, 39

Senior vice-president of small business banking and merchant services, TD Canada Trust, Toronto

BY KATHY ENGLISH

Paul Clark began working as a part-time bank teller when he was 17 and still in high school.

"My mother was a banker so I grew up in a family that talked about banking at the dinner table," Mr. Clark said. "Banking was always a natural interest for me."

Mr. Clark was recently named senior vice-president of small business banking and merchant services for TD Canada Trust, where he has worked since 1989 in a number of positions across Canada.

"I thought that banking was a part-time job, but it turned into a career," said Mr. Clark, who also worked part-time for the bank while studying for his BA at the University of Western Ontario. "Building a successful career doesn't have a specific start date. It begins the first time you start a part-time job or volunteer for an organization. I really do believe that whatever you do, at whatever stage of your career, it's important to commit yourself fully and really learn."

As head of small business banking, responsible for building the "strategy, structure and products" to serve TD's clients, Mr. Clark now has ample opportunity to learn about the many small businesses that drive Canada's economy.

"Each individual business has its own needs, and I love learning about how they operate and their passion for what they do," he says.

A father of two, he strives for some semblance of balance between work and family life, carving out time to coach his son's soccer team and being available for family dinners and his children's bedtime.

Mr. Clark, who took on board responsibilities with Halifax's United Way and a local food bank in his previous posting in the Maritimes, is looking for ways to serve now that he's based in Toronto.

Dennis Kavelman, 35

Chief financial officer, Research in Motion Ltd., Waterloo, Ont.

BY SALEM ALATON

If it weren't for a patent-holding company called NTP Inc., Dennis Kavelman may have been compelled to keep going through life without anything going wrong.

A Waterloo hometown boy, he excelled in business administration studies at Wilfred Laurier University; took chartered accounting and won a gold medal as the nation's top performer in the Uniform Final Examination; and had hardly gotten his feet wet in the working world in 1995 when old friend Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of high-tech startup Research in Motion, invited him to join the team.

The company then had about two dozen employees and a co-founder named Mike Lazaridis, the brainy tech side of the operation: "Jim and I would raise money and Mike would go out and spend it," Mr. Kavelman recounts.

One fine day after years of hard work, Mike completed a nifty little mobile e-mail device and "we knew we had invented something very special with BlackBerry."

How special?

"Right now, we've been just getting to five million users," says Mr. Kavelman, whose company has some 2,000 employees and had sales in the last quarter of 2005 of $560.1-million (U.S.). "That's about double where we were last year, which is about double where we were the year before. There literally isn't a place you can go now where you can't get service."

Lurking in the weeds, however, was NTP, claiming patent precedence on BlackBerry technology, hampering RIM in the courts and creating uncertainty among customers. This past March, RIM paid $612.5-million to make the dispute go away.

"You learn a real lesson that the world's not always about right and wrong," Mr. Kavelman says. "There are so many good things happening in our company. I think people have put it in the rear-view mirror."

Having presided over such milestones as the company's $100-million (CDN) IPO and its listing on the NASDAQ and TSE, Mr. Kavelman figures to continue ensuring those good things occur.

Gold medal or not, however, did all this really come from excellence in . . . accounting?

"Everybody thinks it's about memorizing accounting rules and all this very bland stuff," he responds. "But once you get to that UFE, it's very much more like problem solving and case analysis, which Laurier was very strong at."

Robert Palter, 36

Principal,

McKinsey and Co., Toronto

BY LISA STEPHENS

Robert Palter's roster of accomplishments almost invariably begins with the word "helped." As principal and co-leader of corporate finance, private equity and institutional investment practices for McKinsey and Co. in Toronto, Mr. Palter finds his greatest personal rewards in working with a team.

And he's certainly played a key role in an exceptional number of complex private-equity placements in amounts up to $2-billion in industries ranging from oil and chemicals to media, retailing and food processing. He has also developed new strategies for leading U.S. and Canadian buyout funds, hedge funds and pension plans. His most satisfying accomplishment has been building from scratch McKinsey's private equity practice in Canada. Six years ago, he notes, McKinsey Canada had almost no presence in that market. Mr. Palter sold his colleagues on the concept, put together a team and grew the business into a major portion of McKinsey's practice and a dominant player in the market.

Along the way, Mr. Palter saw a need in Toronto for a Jewish Chamber of Commerce for young entrepreneurs, and in 2003 he became a founding member of a group that now has 500 members.

When his infant son was born profoundly deaf, Mr. Palter began consulting with experts at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. With them and his family onside, he approved the difficult decision to do experimental bilateral cochlear implants in both of his son's ears.

In the year since the procedure was completed, giving his son normal-range hearing, the operation has become a new standard for medical treatment. "It's amazing how far the technology for this has advanced in just a year," he says.

Mr. Palter now sits on the board of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, based in Washington, D.C. Last year, he also created a private endowment fund for cochlear implant research at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Alain Raquepas, 39

Vice-president of finance and CFO,

CAE Inc., Montreal

BY AUGUSTA DWYER

Equipped with a commerce degree from HEC and a law degree from the University of Montreal, Alain Raquepas didn't hesitate when a job came along at CAE for a tax manager specializing in research and development filings.

"I was really very, very thrilled," he recalls. "I knew they were doing a lot of R&D and there was a lot of potential, a Canadian company doing business around the world."

That was 13 years ago. Today he manages a multinational team of professionals, with 100 finance and IT people reporting to him in Montreal and an additional 200 people from 17 nations on five different continents.

"It requires a lot of co-ordination," he admits, "making sure that everyone is building in the same direction."

Ninety per cent of the $1-billion in annual revenue at CAE, which employs 4,800 worldwide, is based on exports. Founded just after World War II as Canadian Aviation Electronics Ltd., the company is the world's top supplier of civil aviation simulation devices. It also participates substantially in the global military defence industry and the training of commercial pilots. For Mr. Raquepas, that means his "routine is never routine. You always have to reinvent yourself and motivate the team to continue to deliver value to our shareholders," he says.

"It's a bit strange, because I thought when I started my career that I'd earn my stripes with my education," he says, "with what I knew, starting with tax and moving to structured finance. For sure these helped me to deliver on many mandates, but right now it's more my management skills that make a difference."

Yet the job, like the industry itself, is not without its challenges, from the downturn in aerospace after the terrorist attacks of September 11 to the rising Canadian dollar and its corresponding productivity issues.

"Now that it's relatively stable and we're getting past the restructuring period, the challenge in front of us is to refocus on growth and leverage these technologies we have," Mr. Raquepas says. "I'm really excited about that."

Mr. Raquepas grew up on Montreal's South Shore and still lives there today with his wife, Marie-Claude, and two children. In his spare time, he likes to ski and chill out in his Eastern Townships country house. He does enough foreign travelling, he says, for the job.

Ian Wilson, 36

President, Wilson Fuel Co., Halifax

BY AUGUSTA DWYER

Mr. Wilson grew up in the city that his family company helped rebuild after the Halifax Explosion of 1914. Back then, the Wilsons were in the construction business; before that, they were merchant traders based in Colchester County in the early 1800s.

Today, along with affiliated businesses in heating-appliance manufacturing and the distribution of heating and refrigeration equipment, Wilson Fuel is Atlantic Canada's largest independent marketer of petroleum products, and the eighth generation is in charge.

The firm has also been rated for the second year in a row as one of Canada's 50 best-managed companies, which, Mr. Wilson says, is a "reflection of the performance of the company as a whole, as a result of the collective effort of everyone working at the business."

It wasn't a sure thing he'd take over, says Mr. Wilson, who studied sciences at Queens University. He earned a masters in environmental technology at the University of London's Imperial College in England.

But with his father's sudden death in 1999, Mr. Wilson took the helm as president of Wilson Fuel after seven years in sales and management of the automotive petroleum side of the business, along with environmental management.

Working for a cleaner environment is one of his extra-curricular activities; he's on the board of Clean Nova Scotia, which educates the public about green issues.

When asked about his goals, Mr. Wilson laughs and recounts how he tells people that some day he'd like to be president of a larger, more successful organization. "And they say, 'Oh, well, what organization?' And I say, 'This one,' " he jokes. In a more serious tone, he adds, "I'd like to concentrate on making this a better place to work, and a better company, more productive, more profitable and more successful."

Away from the office, he spends time sailing and skiing with his wife and their two children.

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