Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 2021

Excerpted from Financial Post: 

It feels like a different world since the relaunch five years ago of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, the country’s premier emerging leaders awards program. Well before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the macro trends of digitization, ongoing innovation and the prioritization of ESG (environmental, social, governance)  were reshaping how we live and work.

During the last 18 months, these trends have accelerated, highlighting the urgent need to build sustainable, healthy organizations and communities.

Top 40 honourees are at the forefront of helping Canada and Canadians come through the other side of this global health and economic crisis. Now they are advancing a better tomorrow.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance and impact of great leaders and why it’s important to celebrate them,” says Jeff Freeborough, managing partner for Toronto at Caldwell Partners, Top 40’s founding partner. “This year was a record year for nominations. It tells us there is a lot to celebrate.”

The 2021 cohort of honourees join more than 800 outstanding Canadians recognized by Top 40 since it was created in 1995. These leaders continue to raise the bar when it comes to making a difference for their organizations, communities and the country. They drive performance and create impact across industries and sectors both here in Canada and globally.

“These folks are making contributions in all aspects of their lives. They are role models for the next generation who can see what impact can look like and who’s making it,” says Freeborough. “This is particularly true for communities that are under-represented in leadership.”

One of the overarching themes of this year’s submissions was just how diverse this year’s nominees and honourees are in every context: gender, cultural background, sexual orientation, geography and industry. The numbers tell the story: 43 per cent of this year’s nominees are women and 40 per cent self-identify as LGBTQ+ and/or diverse based on ethnicity. They work in the consumer, technology, energy, financial services, health care, education and not-for-profit sectors across the country.

The 2021 Top 40 honourees were selected from 1,200 nominations, an increase of almost 20 per cent over last year. These nominations resulted in 500 written submissions that led to 100 individuals selected for an interview. Caldwell Partners and PwC conducted the interviews over the summer and then created a shortlist of  65 candidates for the independent advisory board to consider.

The board includes industry and professional leaders from across Canada as well as past Top 40 recipients. On October 5, 2021, the advisory board, along with representatives from Caldwell Partners who were on hand to answer questions, met via video-conference to select this year’s Top 40. Board members used the Slido polling app to cast their votes.

Each honouree was selected based on their achievements in each of four selection criteria:

  • Vision and Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Impact and Influence
  • Social Responsibility.

“You can’t help but be optimistic about the future because of these leaders,” says Matthew Wetmore, national managing partner, Industries & Regions, PwC Canada. “Their passion to serve and make a difference stands out. To think about the impact they’ve already had, the trajectory they’re on, and what’s possible is exciting. We have a lot going for us as a country.”

This is why the mission of Canada’s Top 40 — to celebrate and support young leaders — is so important. By sharing these stories and supporting these difference makers, Canada wins. “We are committed to Top 40 and continuing to share these stories,” says Freeborough.  “PwC embraced their role as presenting partner and we look forward to many more years celebrating young leaders.”

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