Alberta Oil - - OBSERVER NEWS NUMBERS PEOPLE PLACES - By Al­berta Oil Staff • Pho­to­graphs John Gaucher

If there’s one thing that most C-suite ex­ec­u­tives in the en­ergy sec­tor have in com­mon, it’s that they don’t par­tic­u­larly en­joy be­ing pub­licly ac­knowl­edged for their ex­cel­lence. It’s not that they’re not proud of the work they do or the achieve­ments they’ve racked up, mind you. It’s just that when you ask them to stand on a stage and get show­ered with praise, they start to squirm a bit. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing, ei­ther. There’s some­thing in­her­ently Cana­dian about the in­stinct to avoid the spot­light, and the de­sire to share credit with the co-work­ers who helped make it all pos­si­ble.

But in times like th­ese, which we’re cur­rently fac­ing, we need those high-achiev­ers to stand up and step for­ward. We need peo­ple that we can look to for in­spi­ra­tion, for guid­ance and for a re­minder that, yes, this too shall pass. We need peo­ple who demon­strate the value of un­der­rated virtues like re­straint, cau­tion, pa­tience and dis­ci­pline, ones that tend to fall out of fa­vor in head­ier times. Most im­por­tantly, per­haps, we need peo­ple who ex­em­plify the im­por­tance of hav­ing grace un­der fire, and who know that weath­er­ing the storm this time will make the next one a lot more man­age­able. That’s what this year’s class of C-Suite En­ergy Ex­ec­u­tive Award-win­ners are all about – grace, dig­nity, class and hu­mil­ity. They’re the val­ues that Al­berta’s past was built on, and that its fu­ture will need in greater vol­umes than we’ve seen in re­cent years. If noth­ing else, we can all look to the 2016 class of C-Suite En­ergy Ex­ec­u­tives for ev­i­dence that those val­ues are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked with suc­cess.

What is the most im­por­tant qual­ity that a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive can have? Be­ing for­ward-think­ing. As the leader of an or­ga­ni­za­tion, you have to en­sure that short term goals are met, but as im­por­tantly, you and your team need to look out five to 10 years and de­velop a clear long term vi­sion for your com­pany. You also need to iden­tify po­ten­tial ob­sta­cles that may pre­vent you from achiev­ing the long-term vi­sion and de­velop strate­gies to over­come those ob­sta­cles. Once the vi­sion is es­tab­lished, you need to ar­tic­u­late the vi­sion in a way that en­gages and mo­bi­lizes the en­tire work­force and have them all work­ing to­wards a com­mon goal. This en­gage­ment and clar­ity of pur­pose is what, in my opin­ion, creates a high-per­form­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.

What is the least im­por­tant qual­ity that a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive can have? Over-con­fi­dence. A good leader has to be con­fi­dent, but also needs a cer­tain de­gree of hu­mil­ity. Some­times you don’t know what you don’t know. A good leader has good lis­ten­ing skills and uses th­ese skills ef­fec­tively, es­pe­cially when they’re mak­ing ma­jor de­ci­sions for their com­pany. Good lis­ten­ing skills al­low you to seek in­put from oth­ers in a col­lab­o­ra­tive way to help you avoid get­ting blind­sided by some­thing that you failed to no­tice. Th­ese skills, cou­pled with good de­ci­sion-mak­ing skills, help you en­sure pos­i­tive out­comes.

What is your great­est fear? Fail­ure. I have a need to be suc­cess­ful and I strive for ex­cel­lence in most things I do.

“When peo­ple worry too much, they some­times take their eye off the ball and lose track of what they are re­ally here to do.” Q+ A with our CEO of the Year Lorenzo Don­adeo

Which liv­ing per­son do you ad­mire most? My father. He im­mi­grated to Canada and left his fam­ily and his beau­ti­ful coastal home­land in South­ern Italy at a young age in search of a bet­ter life for his young fam­ily. When he got to Canada, he toiled in the un­der­ground coal mines of north­west­ern Al­berta. But to­gether with hard work, per­se­ver­ance, and a pos­i­tive can-do at­ti­tude, he and my mother went on to live a happy and re­ward­ing life. They taught us the im­por­tance of fam­ily and how to en­joy the sim­ple things in life: fam­ily, friends, good food and good wine. “La dolce de fare niente.”

What is your great­est ex­trav­a­gance? Or­ga­niz­ing fam­ily va­ca­tions and ad­ven­tures abroad that in­clude our im­me­di­ate fam­ily as well as our ex­tended fam­ily. Our last trip was to Italy where there were 22 of us. We started with a visit to my par­ents’ home­land in the Puglia re­gion of Italy. When we got there, we or­ga­nized a fam­ily re­union in­clud­ing our rel­a­tives from Italy and had 110 peo­ple. It re­sulted in a real emo­tional and mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence. We then went on to rent a yacht for a week and toured the Amalfi coast. We did some cy­cling, tour­ing and too much eat­ing. It was a great fam­ily ad­ven­ture that cre­ated some life­long mem­o­ries and some good times.

If you could change one thing about your­self, what would it be? Some­times I can be too driven, I con­stantly strive for per­fec­tion.

What do you con­sider your great­est achieve­ment? On the per­sonal side, it would be mar­ry­ing my high school sweet­heart. We’ve been to­gether for 42 years (seven of those while dat­ing), and have been blessed with a great life to­gether along with three boys that have grown into grounded, in­tel­li­gent and car­ing young men.

On the busi­ness side, be­ing a co-founder of Ver­mil­ion and gen­er­at­ing a 33 per cent com­pounded an­nual re­turn over 22 years, which makes Ver­mil­ion one of the top-per­form­ing com­pa­nies in our sec­tor. Th­ese strong re­turns, cou­pled with our longevity, leave a legacy of fi­nan­cial per­for­mance that is rec­og­nized and ap­pre­ci­ated by our staff, our share­hold­ers and the broader in­vest­ment com­mu­nity. Aside from this, what makes me re­ally proud is the strong cor­po­rate cul­ture we have cre­ated at Ver­mil­ion. This is an or­ga­ni­za­tion that cares about its peo­ple and gives back to the com­mu­nity, that strives for ex­cel­lence, but knows how to have some fun along the way. It’s an or­ga­ni­za­tion with a good cor­po­rate soul. All of th­ese ac­com­plish­ments are a re­sult of strong team ef­forts and are a pos­i­tive re­flec­tion of the ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment of all of our bright and ca­pa­ble peo­ple.

What is the most im­por­tant qual­ity that a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive can have? Lead­er­ship, and all aspects that fall un­der it. That in­cludes iden­ti­fy­ing key peo­ple and their at­tributes, em­pow­er­ing your staff, mak­ing the tough de­ci­sions with con­fi­dence and iden­ti­fy­ing strengths and weak­ness in your­self and oth­ers.

“I cut my teeth in cov­er­alls. Op­er­a­tions is my back­ground, so I kind of like go­ing back to my roots.” Q+ A with our COO of the Year Ja­son Jaskela

What is the least im­por­tant qual­ity that a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive can have? In a small com­pany ev­ery qual­ity is im­por­tant, be­cause weak­ness is fail­ure.

What is your great­est fear? I don’t live that way – I re­ally have no fears. But I’d say my great­est con­cern at the macro level is time. There is so much more this world has to of­fer and so much more I can give back. I have big dreams on fur­ther ca­reer de­vel­op­ment, sup­port­ing char­i­ties, coach­ing my chil­dren in sports and en­joy­ing my fam­ily. I have no idea where the time is go­ing to come from. Twenty-four hours in a day is not enough for me.

Which liv­ing per­son do you ad­mire most? I ad­mire dif­fer­ent peo­ple for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, so it is hard to nail it down to one per­son. One caveat for me is that in or­der to ad­mire some­one I have to know them. In gen­eral I ad­mire all vol­un­teers, be­cause they do­nate time and in many cases do not even get a thank you. I have a ton of ad­mi­ra­tion for my col­leagues at Rag­ing River, each of them for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. My ca­reer has been full of amaz­ing men­tors.

What is your great­est ex­trav­a­gance? Most peo­ple would say my farm would be my great­est “ex­trav­a­gance.” An­i­mals have huge fam­ily sig­nif­i­cance, the whole fam­ily loves them.

If you could change one thing about your­self, what would it be? I of­ten get very fo­cused and lose my abil­ity to slow down and en­joy qual­ity time. Multi-task­ing is nearly im­pos­si­ble for me.

What do you con­sider your great­est achieve­ment? Eight years ago we lost our first son to brain can­cer at the age of two and a half. Con­cur­rently, the mar­ket col­lapsed push­ing the com­pany I worked for into bank­ruptcy. It was ob­vi­ously a very chal­leng­ing time for our fam­ily. But through the help of fam­ily and friends and pure re­siliency we clawed our way back. We have since had three beau­ti­ful chil­dren and I have been part of build­ing two very suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies. It is fun­da­men­tally what keeps me hum­ble, and de­fines for me the dif­fer­ence be­tween suc­cess and sig­nif­i­cance. Our first son was a trooper and never gave up, and a lot of my mo­ti­va­tion to this day comes from him.







Imag­inea En­ergy





Ver­mil­ion En­ergy



Rag­ing River Ex­plo­ration



Plains Mid­stream Canada



Kelt Ex­plo­ration


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