Ray DePaul: Director, visionary, and recipient of the 2016 Calgary Chamber Volunteer of the Year award

Posted by: Alycia Lowdon on May 23, 2017

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting three recipients of this year's Calgary Chamber volunteer awards. Each year we recognize three outstanding volunteers, who have made an impact on our organization and community. Without the efforts of these individuals we wouldn't be able to carry out the important work that we do.

Ray DePaul is the recipient of the 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Calgary Chamber. This week we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about his experience with the Chamber and why volunteering was so important to him.  

About Ray DePaul

Ray DePaul is the Director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University and a strategic visionary with 25-years of experience working in high-tech and innovation.

Before joining the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Ray was the President and CEO of RapidMind Inc., a spin-off company from the University of Waterloo. Ray steered RapidMind through $11M of venture funding, significant market growth, and turned the company into an industry leader, resulting in the acquisition by Intel Corp. 

Prior to Rapidmind, Ray spent five years with Research In Motion (now BlackBerry) and was responsible for product management of the iconic BlackBerry. Ray developed and executed RIM’s business plan, product strategy and product launches to help to guide BlackBerry through the exciting early adopter stage in 1999; ultimately establishing the BlackBerry brand as the smartphone market leader.

Ray holds a Bachelors of Mathematics degree in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo and a Masters of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University. 

When and why did you get involved with the Chamber?

I had only been in Calgary for a couple of years when I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the Chamber's Small Business Awards. This is when I realized that this wasn't the stereotypical chamber that I had experienced elsewhere in the country. Not only did they invite this outsider from Ontario to speak, but the room was full of energy and an entrepreneurial spirit. I knew that I had found a vast group of people that I would be able to connect with.

What is your favourite part about the Chamber?

For me, the Chamber is this connected mesh of members always willing to chip in and help the city and each other. It's the original social network with a purpose.  

What are your visions for the future of the chamber? What would you like to see the Chamber accomplish?

As we all try to figure out what the city will look like in 5, 10, 50 years, I believe the Chamber can play a key role. Sometimes the voice of the entrepreneur and the small and medium business can get lost in the policy discussions that happen in Ottawa, Edmonton, City Hall, and in the hallowed halls of universities who are creating the next generation of talent. The Chamber offers a voice to these business owners and can help ensure that their needs are front and centre in our discussions about the future prosperity of the city. The Chamber will continue to earn that role by being receptive to its members and being a thoughtful and informed voice in the broader community. 

What is your vision for the City of Calgary?

I'm a bit of a contrarian on this topic. While various levels of government try to "engineer" the future of Calgary and Alberta, I have more faith in the entrepreneurs and innovators than I do in the policy makers. Not that we don't need enabling policies, but I believe that our future will be defined by those bold risk takers who spot a global opportunity and create companies and entire industries. We live in an age of exponential change which creates opportunities for people, companies, and cities to reinvent themselves and define their own future.  Just because our leaders may not fully know where to lead us doesn't mean our innovative people won't take us someplace amazing. 

What does winning this award mean to you?

It means I'm doing my part! There are so many volunteers in this city, and many go unrecognized. I'm fortunate that the Chamber has a tradition of acknowledging its volunteers and I'm honoured to be among the volunteer fabric of Calgary. 

What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

During the week, you can usually find me sharing a pint with a young entrepreneur, living vicariously through their journey. But most weekends, my wife and I escape to the mountains. We still pinch ourselves that we can live in a vibrant city and be an hour away from hiking in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. 

Why would you recommend someone to volunteer at the Chamber?

Beyond the obvious rewards of having an impact on your community, I find it a remarkable way to get connected with peers and experts. I have met so many amazing people who I have learned from and continue to lean on. I find the combination of selfless and selfish volunteering keeps my energy tank full.

Congratulations Ray on winning this award, you are a great asset to our community! 

About the volunteer of the year award

 The Volunteer of the Year Award is given to celebrate a volunteer who has given their time and talents to help the Chamber be successful, make a difference in the community and acts as a leader to inspire others.