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2021 Leaders Awards

Honouring Edmonton’s Great – and Resilient – Business Leaders


There was a gap between the 2019 and 2021 Leaders event due to the pandemic, but that didn’t mean those at the helm of our local business were on hiatus. On the contrary, our Leaders were working harder than ever before – running their companies while navigating the incredibly challenging pandemic landscape.

Every moment of their working life our Leaders face the risks of entrepreneurship, but also focus on creating jobs, creating outstanding workplace cultures, and being a responsible environment and community partner. These goals were not dismissed through the many months of closures, restrictions, and adaptations.

Some of our Leaders are in the hospitality industry, which was among the hardest hit by the pandemic. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), at one point only “only 6 per cent of Alberta restaurants, hotels and caterers [were] open and 57 per cent [were] at risk of closing permanently.”

While the hospitality industry suffered the brunt of pandemic’s blow, no business was immune. Even those with pandemic-advantaged products and services faced issues with staffing, broken supply chains, and mandatory work-from-home orders. CFIB’s monthly dashboard shows the impact this has had across Canada. In October only 45 per cent of the nation’s small businesses were fully staffed, and normal sales were sitting at 40 per cent. Comparatively, in Alberta, despite 81 per cent of businesses being fully open, just 42 per cent were running at full staff and 33 per cent were at or above normal revenue levels.

Our Leaders have been challenged in ways nobody saw coming. Yet they faced each wave, each new round of restrictions, and each new challenge with the same positivity, drive, passion, and creativity that made them successful in the first place. From rapidly adapting to the tools and procedures that kept their teams and customers/clients safe to adapting their products and services on the fly, the way our Leaders handled the last year and a half is a true testament to the spirt of Edmonton’s entrepreneurs.

While Business in Edmonton sponsors and highlights the Leaders events, the winners are selected by an independent panel that assesses each nominee across a broad spectrum of criteria. The judges for 2021 are: Dustin Sundby, MNP, Managing Partner-Edmonton region; Dennis Sheppard, NAIT, Dean, JR Shaw School of Business; and Shawn Mevel, ATB Financial, Director, Sales, Business and Agriculture.

These judges return from the 2019 event. In the past they had this to say about the Leaders


  • “A great business leader is one who, first and foremost, is focused on people. A great leader is also one who spends more time looking to the future for opportunities than to the past for what could have been.” – Sheppard.


  • “A leader is an individual who is balanced, curious, and has a tenacious can-do attitude. “Albertans are adaptive and accepting to change, but Edmontonians are even more so, which is a must for entrepreneurs to have success.” – Sundby
  • “A great leader brings empathy, understanding, and an ability to synthesize and communicate a vision for their business. Edmonton is full of people with ideas and drive, but it is also a city of mentors.  Successful people in Edmonton are willing to give their time and experience to others to give a hand up.” – Mevel

Congratulations to the nominees and Leaders for their many contributions to Edmonton’s business and community landscape, and their tenacity and drive before, during, and after the challenging pandemic conditions.

Click here to view the 2021 Leaders Award Winners.

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