WHY HE'S A TOP 40: He leads high-profile missions to Europe and Washington that profile Alberta as a great place.
KEY TO HIS SUCCESS: "Believe in what you do because that will give you the passion and the motivation to get out there and be as good as you can be. But you also have to work hard. So much of success is based on the amount of effort you're willing to put in."
As told by Tim Shipton, the "Alberta Story" is an uplifting tale of economic opportunity, prosperity and sky's-the-limit potential. As president of the Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG), a public policy advocacy group that taps into the collective wisdom of a 95-member body of business leaders, Shipton is doing his best to give the Alberta Story a happy ending.
"There's something to be said about the way that our members have become successful," says Shipton. "If you apply the principles that made these individuals successful to public-policy issues, you can come up with really good ideas and solutions about where we can go as a province."
The group's mandate includes commissioning economic studies, advocating on behalf of the oil sands and the closure of the Edmonton Municipal Airport, organizing media relations campaigns that include writing op-ed columns for major daily newspapers, and doing grassroots outreach with the business community on the home front.
The company has also conducted several high-profile, out-of-province missions to promote Alberta as a solid investment. In 2008, AEG organized a trade mission to Washington, D.C. involving 100 Alberta business people accompanied by Premier Ed Stelmach. During the visit, the group met with members of Congress, as well as senior-level White House staff and what Shipton calls "key leaders in the think-tank community."
In 2009, AEG hosted the Alberta Economic Forum in Geneva, presenting the Alberta story to a group Shipton calls "the cream of the crop of the investment community in Europe." Most recently, Shipton and Co. organized the Alberta Connects 2010 outreach mission to Ottawa to emphasize the province's importance to the national economy.
As a result of his boosting for the oil industry, Shipton has become a go-to counterpoint for oil sands criticism, something he takes in stride. "Some groups have legitimate concerns and legitimate recommendations for improvement, so you can't just outright turn your back on all of it," he says. "But what you have to understand is that there's a good segment that's just about outright sensationalism." Whether we like it or not, he says, the oil sands are an integral part of the province's economy, today and in the future. "It's incredibly important that we are focused with laser-like precision on what we're going to do with this wealth that's based on non-renewable assets," he says.
Shipton is a staunch supporter of the Canadian military on both a personal and professional level. Alberta Enterprise Group has formed close ties with Lord Strathcona's Mounted Horse Regiment and has sponsored more than 500 soldiers to attend Edmonton Oilers hockey games. In 2008, as part of the trade mission to Washington, the company sponsored 350 soldiers and their families to attend the Oilers-Capitals game there.
"Our focus when we talk to them is saying how important the military is to this community, how much we respect what they do and how much support they have," says Shipton.