We live in a world that reveres the chief executive. It’s the Warren Buffetts, Jamie Dimons and Elon Musks who get all the glory—or, to put it in the Canadian context, the Keith Creels, Rania Llewellyns and Ajay Virmanis. (To be fair, they’re also the ones who tend to bear the burden of failure when things go south, but let’s face it—a fat compensation package can go a long way toward soothing that kind of sting.)
As all but the most egocentric leaders will admit, however, running a company (or a magazine, for that matter) is a team sport. Transat AT’s new CEO, Annick Guérard—who spent years as operations chief before succeeding co-founder and long-time boss Jean-Marc Eustache last year—describes leadership this way: “The weight of it isn’t just on one person but on the whole group.”
Yet, it’s the rare non-CEO executive who manages to achieve any recognition outside their own sector. Honestly, how many of you can name, say, the chief financial officer of Berkshire Hathaway or the head of human resources at RBC? (For the record: Marc Hamburg and Helena Gottschling, respectively.) Our Best Executives 2022 package is all about lauding the unsung heroes of the business world—the financial wizards, sales and marketing experts, logistics nerds and IT geniuses whose job is to make sure their companies succeed—and, yes, make their CEOs look good.
If it weren’t for the Best Execs nomination process, we’d never have had the chance to write about The Ten Spot’s CFO, Laura Wittholz, who ensured the franchised chain of beauty bars stayed afloat despite 300 days of virtually no revenue (“Spot on,” page 24). AJ Fernandez Rivera—who appears on this month’s cover—would have similarly remained in the shadows. Fernandez Rivera is just one person at a consulting firm with a population larger than the city of Boston. But she’s had an outsized impact not just on Accenture’s business but on its culture of diversity and authenticity, too, as a trans tech executive willing to step up and share her story with the world.
You’ll also read about 48 other executives who deserve a little love for providing employees with access to mental health services during the COVID-19 lockdown, battling supply-chain snarls to make sure customers weren’t faced with empty store shelves and ensuring telecom services still work during increasingly volatile climate-related natural disasters.
On a personal note, I’d like to send a giant thank-you to all the people who help make this magazine—especially our long-time, long-suffering art director, Domenic Macri, who doesn’t get nearly enough credit (and likes it that way). Thanks for making me look good.
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