Volunteer of the Year Award: Don O’Dwyer
June 13, 2019
Volunteers are an integral part of the services and programs we provide at the Calgary Chamber. Whether they are buying lemonade from children, facilitating debates, hosting classes for emerging entrepreneurs, they are all contributing to the sustainable growth of Calgary’s economy. Without these wonderful Calgarians who have contributed to the well-being of our community, we would not be able to carry out the important work that we do.
Each year, we like to recognize the exceptional volunteer achievements of our members and pay tribute to the dedication and commitment they have shown. This year, the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award goes to Don O’Dwyer, CEO of Raven Bay.
This week, we had opportunity to discuss and talk with Don about himself, his experience with the Chamber, and why volunteering is so important to him.
Calgary Chamber (CC): When and why did you get involved with the Chamber?
Don O’Dwyer (DO): I have been involved with the Chamber for the past 5 years. During that time I have attended many events – industry, provincial and civic, participated in programs like Ignite, CEO Peer Mentoring and Annual General Meetings. The Chamber of Calgary has a great reputation, they support businesses big and small and provide many opportunities to interact and be engaged in what is going with Calgary business.
CC: What is your favourite part about the Chamber?
DO: My favourite part of the Chamber is the opportunity to connect with local business people and discuss the challenges and opportunities we have ahead of us.
The people that I talk to at Chamber related events want to make our local business better. It doesn’t matter if they have lived in a different country or province; they want to make their business better in Calgary. I love the diversity and passion of the people that the Chamber provides me the opportunity to connect with.
CC: What are your visions for the future of the Chamber? What would you like to see the Chamber accomplish?
DO: My vision for the Chamber is to support the entrepreneurial spirit that Calgary is known for and I would like the Chamber to continue their involvement in activities that facilitate “common sense” dialogue between business and government.
We are in a tumultuous time. I am troubled with the trend of our country becoming more and more litigious. I am gob smacked to see the press lately with cities suing provinces, provinces suing provinces and provinces suing the federal government. I want my tax dollars spent promoting business, our city, province and country. I want to appreciate our differences of opinion without landing in court.
CC: What is your vision for the City of Calgary?
DO: I think the City of Calgary needs to return to a position where our council understands our financial burden and balance and probably reduce our service delivery significantly.
Unfortunately, we are experiencing difficult times. I don’t believe this is a historical boom or bust situation and I don’t believe this can be resolved in the short term. Business in Calgary is changing.
· Companies no longer have a Canadian tax advantage
· Calgary has a 30% DT vacancy rate
· A significant amount of our workforce (200,000 were laid off in the last downturn) will retire, and take contract jobs
· Albertans have no access to international markets for key resources
· Albertans fight to to get our resources to a market – ANY market
· We have not upped our game to attract a diverse workforce like Denver, Kelowna or Guelph
The expenditures with no positive economic output defined while we raise taxes and experience significant shortcomings from DT vacancies boggles my mind.
CC: What does winning this award mean to you?
DO: Winning the award is very significant to me. I accepted the award based on the premise that the Chamber does more for me than I do for the Chamber and I hope to live up to the honour this award encapsulates. I know many of the recipients who won the award before me and I hope to meet those who win the award after me.
Calgary is great because people here are entrepreneurial in business and COMMUNITY minded spirit. I accept the honour and I will do my best to pay it forward for the Calgary Community as a whole.
CC:What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
DO: I spend my productive spare time at my other volunteer job with Calgary Rangers Soccer Club. The key individuals in the club are committed to growth of young people as a person and a player. I am surrounded by soccer people who have played at the highest level and business people who dedicate their spare time to helping youth become contributing members of society. I am fortunate for the diversity and depth of people I work with at Calgary Rangers on a day to day basis.
CC: Why would you recommend someone to volunteer at the Chamber?
DO: I would recommend that someone volunteer at the Chamber because the Chamber is core to our business community in Calgary. As I said earlier, the Chamber does more for me than I do for the Chamber so it’s a privilege to be involved with the organization and the people who make the Chamber the success it is today.
About Don O’Dwyer:
Don is the CEO of Raven Bay, a full-service Management Consulting and Analytics firm, that he bootstrapped 14 years ago. Don has been married to his wife Gail for 26 years and has three great daughters. When Don is not running Raven Bay, he is heavily involved in the Rangers Soccer Club where he has been an active member of the board for 10 years
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.