As the Ottawa Senators work to solidify plans to build a new downtown arena, a leading member of the NHL club’s executive team has been named Ottawa’s CFO of the Year by the Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal.
Erin Crowe, who rejoined the Senators as senior vice-president and chief financial officer earlier this year, is the fifth recipient of the annual award, which recognizes CFOs who maximize their company’s financial position and growth during a recent period.
“It is an honour to receive this recognition,” said Crowe, 51. “Even more than the individual accolades, I believe this reflects the achievements and strength of the entire Senators team.”
The award comes as the franchise is embarking on what could be one of the biggest city-building projects the capital has seen in generations – and Crowe is playing a top-line role in that process.
After being based in Kanata for nearly three decades, the Senators have launched a bid to construct a new rink at LeBreton Flats, just west of downtown.
A group led by the Senators has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission, which controls the site, to negotiate a lease for the land by next September. Crowe, the club’s top financial executive, is a key point person as the club works with various partners and the NCC to finalize the bid.
“Erin is one of the backbones of the entire organization.”
It’s a star turn, and those who know Crowe best say she’s more than up to the task.
“Erin is one of the backbones of the entire organization,” said Anthony LeBlanc, the Senators’ president of business operations. “She brings creativity, leadership and an incredible depth of knowledge to our management team. We are all so happy to see her recognized for her contributions.”
Though she’s only been back with the team since February, the Sens’ executive suite is familiar territory for Crowe.
The Queen’s University commerce grad originally joined the organization back in 1996 – its first year in Kanata – and quickly ascended the ranks, helping restructure a financially struggling club that was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.
Crowe eventually spent 12 years as the team’s CFO, adding the senior vice-president’s role to her responsibilities for the last six, as the Sens evolved into a perennial contender and advanced to the Stanley Cup final in 2007.
It’s no wonder that when she announced last December she was returning to the club, she described the move as “going back to my roots.”
‘Part of our DNA’
“I’ve always had an affinity for the Senators,” Crowe told OBJ. “I kind of grew up there in my career, and it’s an organization that is really an important part of the city. It’s part of our DNA.”
But the veteran exec is hardly a one-tool player in the world of finance.
After leaving the Sens in 2015, Crowe served stints as CFO at an eclectic mix of prominent local companies that included real estate firm Regional Group, waterslide manufacturer ProSlide Technology and most recently software-maker Martello Technologies.
At Martello, one of the city’s fastest-growing tech firms during her tenure, Crowe was instrumental in taking the fledgling company public in 2018. She also helped orchestrate Martello’s ambitious growth campaign that saw it acquire a pair of European companies and raise tens of millions of dollars through public share offerings.
And as a woman executive in male-dominated industries like sports and tech, Crowe hasn’t been afraid to use her status as one of the city’s leading financial figures to campaign for a broader range of voices in corporate boardrooms and C-suites across Ottawa and beyond.
Diversity ‘is an imperative’
“As I go through life, I think I’m starting to realize that there really are too few females in leadership positions,” she told a business breakfast audience at the Shaw Centre in 2018. “Diversity isn’t a nice-to-have for an organization. It really is an imperative for organizations.”
Dan Dore, the National Capital Region’s managing partner for award sponsor Deloitte, lauded Crowe for her “remarkable track record” over her 20-year career as a CFO.
“Professional sports, real estate, manufacturing and technology, she has found success in many sectors,” Dore said. “Now, back at the Senators, she has a very important role to play in the future of the franchise and the future of downtown in the LeBreton Flats discussions.”
Crowe will be among dozens of recipients – including CEO of the Year Kyle Braatz and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Pat Butler – who will be honoured at the upcoming Best Ottawa Business Awards.
This year’s event will take place Thursday, Nov. 24 at the Westin Ottawa. Tickets can be purchased at Ottawabot.ca/events.