Best Ottawa Business Awards winners push credit to others at packed gala

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The 2019 CFO of the Year Jacqueline Gauthier speaks at the Best Ottawa Business Awards on Fri., Nov. 22.

Humility permeated every speech from the marquee award winners at Friday evening’s Best Ottawa Business Awards, as the local community turned out in droves to honour the city’s brightest business leaders.

Some 750 people packed the Westin hotel on Friday to celebrate the successes from the past year in local business at the annual gala organized by OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade.

Though the BOBs is always a night of celebration, the evening didn’t pass without the occasional ribbing, as high-profile targets such as Newsmaker of the Year Bruce Linton and Mayor Jim Watson had a few barbs trained on them through the evening – jokes about an ousting from Canopy Growth and a turbulent light-rail rollout were all in jest, of course.

Jim Durrell, former mayor of Ottawa and a previous recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, took a shot at this year’s honouree Dr. Jack Kitts in his introductory speech, lambasting his longtime friend for not specializing in a medical field that was easier to pronounce than anaesthesiology.

Kitts, like many of the night’s other marquee winners, reflected on the years of work that had brought him to the BOBs podium. Though he’ll depart from his role as president and CEO of the Ottawa Hospital next June, he had no shortage of fond feelings to share about the position.

“You may not know this, but I have the best job in the world,” Kitts said.

“I work in a place that cares for people who are sick, frightened and vulnerable. A place where miracles happen every day. And this evening, I'm being recognized for doing what I love to do.”

“I work in a place that cares for people who are sick, frightened and vulnerable. A place where miracles happen every day. And this evening, I'm being recognized for doing what I love to do.”

Kitts went on to credit his team at the Ottawa Hospital, which he reveres as the “best… in Canadian health care,” for his award. He passed appreciation on to a few others that evening, including his family and one very influential high school guidance counsellor, but he saved his dearest thanks for his mother, who pushed him to strive for more than he first thought possible for himself.

“Recently, I thanked her for having the foresight, the wisdom and courage to completely ignore (my low professional aspirations) and do what she felt was right,” he said. “She passed away two months ago, but I know she is resting peacefully with a great big smile today. Thank you, mom.”

The 2019 CEO of the Year Dan Goldberg also thanked his family, team and community – he quoted his former boss Michael Sabia, saying “business is the ultimate team sport” – but also highlighted one member of his staff who might well be the secret to his success. The Telesat chief executive gave special mention to his executive assistant, Lucy Camposarcone, in his speech, noting that she has played a statistically significant role for recipients of the CEO of the Year award.

“Lucy has worked for 20 per cent of the individuals who have received this award. So if anyone is trying to do the math on why I'm here this evening, I think we know,” he said to the audience’s cheers.

So keen to deflect praise was Calian Group’s Jacqueline Gauthier that when OBJ publisher Michael Curran called to let her know she was this year’s CFO of the Year, she assumed he must have been calling about her boss and 2017 CEO of the Year, Kevin Ford.

“A month ago, when Michael gave me a call under the pretext that he had some questions for me to answer about Kevin, I said, ‘Oh, there we go again – Kevin, another award,’” she recalled in her speech.

Upon further reflection, however, about the quality of her fellow bookkeepers in the Ottawa community, Gauthier began to appreciate the gravity of being named just the second-ever CFO of the Year.

“I started thinking about all the great people I know in this community: all the accountants, CFOs and all the people that, every day, try to make the businesses in Ottawa (into) greater businesses,” she said. “And that's when it kind of hit me and I was really honoured to be receiving this award this year.”

Full list of 2019 Best Ottawa Business Award Winners:

  • #NextBigThingOTT – RVezy

  • #NextBigThingOTT – SnapClarity

  • #NextBigThing OTT – GoFor Delivers

  • Best Business – Regional Group

  • Best Business – Assent Compliance

  • Best Business – You.i TV

  • Best New Business –Assurance Home Care

  • Best New Business – Superette

  • Best New Business – ChangeRoom

  • Best Performance Marketing – ProntoForms

  • Best Performance Customer Experience – Phreesia

  • Best Performance Co-op – Ross Video

  • Best Performance Export – Evidence Partners Inc.

  • Best Performance Social Entrepreneurship – EcoEquitable

  • Best Performance HR – You.i. TV

  • Best Performance Sales – March Networks

  • Best Performance Sustainability – Giatec Scientific Inc.

  • Kanata North Company of the Year – Crank Software

  • Kanata North Team of the Year – Magnet Forensics

  • Newsmaker of the Year – Bruce Linton

  • Best Not-for-Profit – LiveWorkPlay / VivreTravaillerJouer

  • Deal of the Year: Technology – Shopify

  • Deal of the Year: Retail – Farm Boy & Rideau Bakery

  • Deal of the Year: Tourism – Ottawa International Airport & Groupe Germain

  • Deal of the Year: Finance – MindBridge Ai

  • Deal of the Year: Real Estate – Kinaxis & Taggart Realty Management

  • CEO of the Year: Dan Goldberg, Telesat

  • CFO of the Year: Jacqueline Gauthier, Calian Group

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Jack Kitts, The Ottawa Hospital