Ian Anderson Committee Chair of the Year Award: Bill Brunton
June 13, 2019
Each year, the Calgary Chamber recognizes three outstanding volunteers who have played an impactful role to both the organization and the Calgary community at large. These volunteers continue to share their valuable skills and insights to the business sector in Calgary.
The recipient of this years 2019 Calgary Chamber Ian Anderson Committee Chair of the Year Award is Bill Brunton, VP Marketing and External Relations of Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta, who has demonstrated great business leadership in Calgary.
We caught up with Bill to talk about what this award means, and why it is so important to him
Calgary Chamber (CC): When and why did you get involved with the Chamber?
Bill Brunton (BB): Twice in my career the Chamber has helped me to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in new business relationships and increase business community awareness.
Having my own firm started me on the path to also use the Chamber as a way of giving back to the community
I ran for the Board in 2012 because I recognized that the Chamber was at the centre of a business community in Calgary that had a unique, can-do, entrepreneurial spirit, and that was where I wanted to be also. I wanted to help the Chamber be the best possible voice for business in Calgary, and to work with people who felt the same way.
CC: What is your favourite part about the Chamber?
BB: There are actually four things I like about the Calgary Chamber.
First, like any successful organization, it supports great relationships. The Chamber creates a thriving market or community within its membership, and with the larger business community in Calgary that supports a lot of initiative and positive intention.
Second, the Chamber has always been focused on the larger community. It recognizes that you can’t have a thriving business sector without a strong and vibrant community, and you can’t have a thriving community without a healthy business sector.
Third, I like that the Chamber is non-partisan and focused on evidence-based policy and action. The Chamber’s role is to identify the issues we should be talking about, find language that focuses positively on the issue and the options for addressing it, provide a forum for conversation and debate, and then create a context for accountability when choices are made
And fourth, the Chamber’s big tent and diverse membership forces it to encompass many different business sectors and ideas, without becoming aligned with or captive to any specific industry or sector.
What all this means is that when you participate at the Chamber you have a seat at centre ice in Calgary’s business arena. You get to see what’s going on up close, and sometimes you get to be involved in the action. What could be better than that?
CC: What are you visions for the future of the chamber? What would you like to see the Chamber accomplish?
BB: Actually, I love Nourish, Power and Inspire, and think that the Chamber’s current strategic direction is right on target. In terms of specific accomplishments.
I’d like to see the Chamber evolve the membership model to get more businesses and organizations into the big tent. The more “members” it has the more powerful a voice it can have on policy questions. But what should “member” mean and what options can the Chamber construct to make this model work in the 21st century? This is the next level for the Calgary Chamber.
I’d like the Chamber to continue on a path to be the primary non-partisan voice of Calgary’s business community, and the source for good, informed, balance discussion of issues that affect business and the community.
CC: What is your vision for the City of Calgary?
BB: It will need to be a more diverse City in terms of its strong industries and business sectors, the change needs to be supported with on-purpose policies and government decisions, and this transition needs to be acknowledged, embraced and supported by all businesses, institutions and learning centres.
Whether or not pipelines get built which of course they should, the industry will change, it isn’t going to disappear, so access to markets has to happen. But the strengths of this industry in Calgary give it huge opportunities to capitalize on and lead investments in sustainable energy, energy-related technology and innovation, logistics and transportation and other sectors.
It will be important for Calgary to fully embrace environmental responsibility and sustainability as a key differentiating value and to become well-known and respected for that leadership.
We can’t be one of the world’s great cities unless we address issues like affordable housing for the people we want to work in our businesses, educational opportunity and access for everyone’s children, transit, parks and quality of life. We can do that too, and it can be led by our business community.
CC: What does winning this award mean to you?
BB: Appreciation is always nice. What I value most is the board’s desire to give it to when it could have been given to many other great people.
Like most people in my situation, I feel that I received a lot more out of my work on the Board than I gave. It was a privilege to be elected to the Board and another to be relied upon to lead different parts of the Board. I learned something useful about business and people and community at every Board meeting I attended, and I got to work with the best people. That was the honour, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
CC: What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
BB: I use my spare time to be with my family, to read and to stay fit. My taste in books would be boring to most people – leadership, strategy, and philosophy. For exercise I run, cycle, do weights, golf, hike and ski cross-country. If I had to pick one favorite, it would be a 15-20 K cross-country ski on a brilliant winter day on fresh snow, good skis and newly set tracks.
About Bill Brunton:
Bill’s career has been a progression of leadership roles in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Bill is currently working at Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta, one of Canada’s largest Habitat affiliates. He’s worked with energy, financial services, development, technology and health/social organizations. He’s served in both executive and board roles Bill has a foundation of training in economics and business administration, as well as the arts (music) and science (physics). Bill ran his own business for 10 years which quickly reached 12 people and $2.5 million in sales. As Chief Communications Officer at the CBE, General Manager of Hill+Knowlton Alberta, Vice President at Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta, and Board Member at the Calgary Chamber, Bill has accepted and delivered on leadership challenges.
About the Ian Anderson Committee Chair of the Year Award
Ian Anderson himself was a steadfast Chamber volunteer and committee chair, who left us far too soon. The Ian Anderson Committee Chair of the Year award recognizes an exemplary leader who demonstrates an ongoing commitment to the Chamber by taking an active leadership role in policy committees, and advancing the advocacy of the Chamber, one of our most important roles. The Ian Anderson Committee Chair of the Year is chosen for the qualities of intelligence, dependability, creativity and leadership.