Prospectus: Guiding Ottawa to a more prosperous, community-minded future

Editor's Note

In each issue of the OBJ newsmagazine, publisher Michael Curran shares his prospectus for the Ottawa business community. Read the summer edition of the newsmagazine here.


I count my blessings at OBJ. I have the privilege of interacting with smart, industrious overachievers who are usually pursuing some larger purpose, such as social causes, improving the lives of co-workers or simply building a better community.

In June of every year, those interactions take special focus as a new cohort of Forty Under 40 recipients prepare to take a bow.

They never fail to impress.

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Given pandemic restrictions, this year’s annual networking event for new recipients was done virtually. We embraced a speed-dating format that saw four new faces flash on my computer screen every 10 minutes. It left me buzzing for hours as I tried to absorb these fast-paced introductions.

There was Darryl Arvai, the 39-year-old corporate controller at Shopify, a real made-in-Ottawa success story. Arvai did his commerce degree locally, spent a few years with a major accounting firm and then cut his teeth at DragonWave. At Shopify, he played a key role in raising almost $7 billion in funding and then ramped up finance operations.

That impressed me, but it wasn’t the takeaway.

In passing, Arvai mentioned that he built a Shopify store for his favourite Bank Street bakery after he noticed they weren’t keeping up with e-commerce trends. No one asked him to do this ​– he just wanted to help.

Matthew Carr, still in his mid-20s, took over his family’s third-generation insurance business when his father passed away from cancer in 2013. Since then revenues at Gifford Carr Insurance Group have increased fivefold ​– this in an industry overtaken by consolidation. The company has such a rich tradition of charity donations that it formalized its giving-back program.

Cynthia Benoit also popped onto my screen, accompanied by her ASL interpreter. She launched CB Linguistic Services three years ago and experienced triple-digit revenue growth, all while creating jobs for seven deaf employees and more than 60 deaf and hard-of-hearing freelancers across Canada. While navigating her company through the pandemic, she is completing her MBA.

These are three of the many people I met during the networking session. All of their stories are compelling and that’s why a big part of this issue is devoted to them. The profiles are full of great anecdotes and little gems of business wisdom. Enjoy.

Forty Under 40 has grown into something much more than an awards program. Its recipients are like beacons on the horizon, leading us to a more prosperous, innovative and community-minded future.

As the pandemic hopefully winds down, we’ve never needed them more than now.

Read the summer newsmagazine

Meet Ottawa’s new class of Forty Under 40 recipients, explore the rising success of a local sports e-commerce startup and the new housing initiative helping artists. iPad

Other features in this issue:

  • Ron Corbett unearths the hidden costs of construction;
  • Robert Hocking digs into how a former CJOH executive is redefining wealth;
  • The innovators ushering in a new era of farming;
  • The rise of Ottawa’s boutique real estate brokerages

Plus, check out Caroline Phillips‘ coverage, a rundown of top Ottawa executives moving into new jobs as well as an in-depth discussion with EY partner and Ottawa Board of Trade chair Ian Sherman as he prepares for the next stage of his career. 

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