Most Powerful People

Canada’s Most Powerful Business People 2017: Beyond the Boardroom

Not everyone with influence in business leads a publicly traded company. Here are 10 more leaders with sway in Canada

Hootsuite founder and CEO Ryan Holmes. (Hootsuite)

Hootsuite founder and CEO Ryan Holmes. (Hootsuite)

When we built the 2016 Power List, we used financial records, corporate documents and analyst reports to help quantify the influence of business leaders. This approach allowed us to back our ranking with hard numbers; it also meant that we could only assess the CEOs of publicly traded companies. So here’s a list of politicians, bureaucrats, heads of private companies and others. We couldn’t measure their power, but they clearly wield clout within the country’s business community:

Ryan Holmes, CEO, Hootsuite

Holmes was just 34-years-old when founded Hootsuite  in 2008. Today, the company’s value approaches $1 billion and it makes the most widely used platform for managing social media in the world, boasting 1,800 enterprise customers including PayPal, Oakley, Sony Music Entertainment, Orange, Adidas, and L’Oreal. Holmes’ authority, like his technology, extends globally. Last year, Holmes was listed alongside Richard Branson and Bill Gates as one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Influencers.

Katherine Barr, Founding Partner, Wildcat Venture Partners

One of a handful of women to be a general partner at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Barr uses her influence to bolster emerging Canadian tech firms. She’s also a founder of the C100 Association, an organization that helps Canadian companies raise venture financing. She frequently advocates for policy changes aimed at easing access to financing for tech start-ups.

Heather Munroe Blum, Chair of the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board

Last year, Blum’s pension fund conducted $34 billion in transactions. It’s now the eighth largest fund in the world. An academic who served for a decade as President of McGill University, she is currently a Director of Royal Bank of Canada and CGI Group and previously served on the boards of Four Seasons Hotels, Alcan, Yellow Media Inc., and Ontario’s Hydro One among others.

Ron Mock, President and CEO, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

Ron Mock, a former Ontario Hydro Electrical engineer and founder of Phoenix Research and Trading, now oversees $171 billion in assets in more than 50 countries on behalf of 316,000 past and present teachers. Since the OTPP’s inception in 1990, the fund has produced average annual returns of 10.3%.

Dave Mowat, CEO, ATB Financial

ATB Finance is an Alberta government agency, meaning the financial institution is also a useful policy tool for boosting the provincial economy. In the wake of the province’s wildfires, Mowat announced ATB would work with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to make $1 billion in capital available to small- and medium-sized Alberta businesses. He’s held three chief executive posts and sat on boards including Telus, Visa Canada, Citizens Bank Canada.

Stephen Poloz, Governor, Bank of Canada

Eight times a year, Canadians mortgage holders, CFOs and small- and medium-sized business owners all wait to hear whether Poloz will change our key interest rate. He may not have the swagger of predecessor Mark Carney, but he still wield tremendous power as the man who directs monetary policy.

Michael Sabia, CEO, la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

Since joining in 2009, Sabia has grown the provincial pension fund’s asset base by $130 billion. He’s now being lauded for a plan to help build a light-rail system for greater Montreal that will improve public transit and boost the fund’s bottom line.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister, Canada

The Liberal politician is taking an activist role in growing Canada’s economy. Rolling out $50 billion in infrastructure spending is part of it, but so too is new money for innovation, encouraging inter-provincial trade, introducing a carbon-pricing scheme, legalizing marijuana and pursuing implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS

Treurnicht runs a non-profit innovation hub whose emerging companies have attracted $2.6-billion in capital and earned $1.25-billion in revenue over its 12-year existence. The former entrepreneur enticed legendary Canadian business leaders to MaRS’ board, including former RBC CEO Gord Nixon and Richard Ivey.

Kathleen Wynne, Premier, Ontario

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper wouldn’t talk to Wynne, but Justin Trudeau’s October 2015 election changed Kathleen Wynne’s status in Ottawa overnight. She now has a federal ally aligned with many of her key policies. She’s leading the charge among the provinces for an expanded public pension plan, a national carbon-pricing plan, expanding public transportation and greater interprovincial trade.