Iconic Private Sector Leaders Kickstart Entrepreneurial Revival in Alberta

CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - April 15, 2016) - Calling for bold leadership in an economic crisis, several senior Alberta business leaders have together launched an innovative program to provide high-level mentorship to prospective entrepreneurs. The program will inspire pre-entrepreneurial action and offer early stage acceleration of entrepreneurial ideas through thoughtful business-to-business mentoring. 

The project is being led by veteran business coach Keith Hanna, CEO of StepUp Coaching, and supported by progressive thought leaders Mac Van Wielingen and W. Brett Wilson. Conducted in partnership with ATB Financial, the program -- whose working title is "StepONE" -- will enroll 30+ leaders in mentoring prospective entrepreneurs. The program launched today during an event featuring speakers from ARC Financial, ATB Financial, BOWEN, Collins Barrow, DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Prairie Merchant Corporation, SNC Law, WestJet, and ZGM Collaborative Marketing.

"This economic crisis is both a problem and an opportunity, ripe with possibilities," says Keith Hanna. "Historically, a number of people have used a downturn to create the fortunes of a lifetime. We are now in one of Alberta's defining moments -- the perfect time to overcome doubt and fear, and learn how to build truly sustainable businesses."

The mentoring initiative goes beyond traditional conversations about financing and business planning, and gets to the heart of entrepreneurship -- helping newcomers find the confidence to move their ideas forward in the face of great risk.

"Successful entrepreneurs view risk differently, often because of a strong belief in themselves," says W. Brett Wilson, one of Canada's most well-known and respected entrepreneurs and philanthropists. "ATB, StepUp, Mac, and a host of others are showing tremendous leadership in helping a new crop of Alberta entrepreneurs gain the confidence to take their first entrepreneurial steps," added Wilson, who co-founded FirstEnergy Capital Corp. at the very bottom of the economic cycle in 1993.

"Mentoring entrepreneurs at the starting gate creates opportunities for everyone," adds Mac Van Wielingen, a gifted thought leader in investment and governance, and Chairman of AIMCo and Founder and Director of ARC Financial Corp. "It can be one of the best ways to find new connections and discover new business possibilities that benefit the whole community. This level of thoughtful mentorship will be supportive of making this happen." 

Following the April 15 event, StepUp and ATB will coordinate the delivery of the mentoring program, matching veteran business leaders with newcomers, providing web-based tools, and supporting entrepreneurial solutions to the employment crisis.

"This process is about establishing not only business fundamentals, but personal fundamentals," says Dave Mowat, President and CEO of ATB Financial, a leading promoter of entrepreneurship in Alberta. "Coaching and mentorship are step one in producing Alberta's next entrepreneurial revival."


Back in 1993, W. Brett Wilson co-founded FirstEnergy Capital Corp. (Canada's leading energy investment bank) and has since gone on to develop extensive holdings in the energy, real estate, agriculture, sports and entertainment industries. Now Dragon Emeritus, he spent three years as a "fan-favorite" on CBC's hit reality TV show, Dragons' Den. Brett has been recognized as Calgary Person of the Year, Alberta Business Person of the Year, and a Nation Builder by The Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

Mac Van Wielingen is a founder and director of ARC Financial Corporation, a private equity investment management company focused on the energy sector in Canada with approximately $5.3 billion of capital under management. He is also a founder and director of ARC Resources Ltd. He is one of the original directors (2007) and now Chairman of the Board of Directors of Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), one of Canada's largest and most diversified institutional investment fund managers.

Dave Mowat is President and CEO of ATB Financial, a company with 5,300 team members and 700,000 personal and business customers. A native Albertan, Dave has been named one of Alberta's 50 most influential people, Alberta Venture's Business Person of the Year, and holds the MacEwan University's Charles Allard Chair in Business.

For the past 18 years Keith Hanna has been the coach of choice for some of Canada's premiere growth entrepreneurs and executive teams, and is one of the pioneers of the executive coaching industry in Canada. He has spent his professional career studying entrepreneurial psychology, leadership and enterprise design, working together with his clients to develop innovative design and coaching tools that support their next level of growth. He works with people and organizations to reveal blindspots, shift mindsets and strengthen culture. His mission is to change the lives of the people changing the world by install coaching capacity inside their organizations. His long-term vision is a social network of innovators doing business and life with integrity.

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Contact Information:

Kaitlin Sharpe


Joni Avram
Cause & Effect Marketing

StepONE Program Entrepreneurs W. Brett Wilson StepUp Summit StepONE Program Entrepreneurs