Established in 1985 by MacEwan University, in partnership with the Allard Foundation, the Chair in Business is an honorary teaching position that recognizes a distinguished business and community leader. As the Allard Chair, Tom will be part of a series of events and programming that will include meeting with MacEwan students to share his business expertise.
About Tom Redl and Chandos
With over 30 years’ experience in commercial real estate and construction, Tom’s focus as CEO is on coaching and alignment while helping the Chandos team set strategic direction for the organization. Tom is an active community leader, having served as co-chair of the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region’s 2016 Campaign Cabinet. Tom has always been very active on a number of boards and in 2015, completed a full term on the board of the Edmonton Regional Airport Authority, including three years as board chair.
He currently serves on the board of governors for the Citadel Theatre, in addition to a number of other board positions. In an effort to advance corporate social responsibility, Tom is a member of the MacEwan Social Innovation Institute’s Advisory Council.
Chandos is an award-winning leader in the Canadian construction industry. One hundred per cent employee-owned, the firm specializes in innovative collaborative project delivery for a wide range of projects including nuclear research facilities, educational institutions, condominium developments and small tenant improvements.
Chandos is the first and largest B Corp-certified commercial general contractor in North America. B Corp certification is a designation that recognizes businesses that believe that the purpose of a company is not just profit, but also social and environmental good.
Q. What does your role as CEO involve?
I've been at Chandos for over 20 years, and the company is almost 20 times the size it was when I started. Although I’ve had the same business card for most of those years, my role has been reinvented a number of times as the organization grew and more people joined us.
Now I'm coming to the tail end of my tenure as CEO, so I’m in the stages of handing off to the next generation of leadership at the senior executive level, and my role, therefore, is to provide support and ensure their success. They're doing fabulous work so it’s actually turned out to be the easiest job I've ever had.
It’s interesting when you think about the end game of a leader – it is actually not to lead longer, but to ensure the success of others.
Q. What was your first job and is there a lesson from that time that you continue to live by?
My first job was on the farm, working with my father, brothers and sisters. In addition to learning how to work hard, I would say the lesson was about being resourceful and creative to figure things out. It’s not much different from being in business — if you’re resourceful, you can figure things out and find different ways of continuously improving on your solution.
Q. Have you ever started your career in one direction only to change your path entirely?
I did! I was a kid off the farm. I didn’t even know what a commerce degree was – only that I wanted to go to university. I had high marks in chemistry, so I enrolled in chemical engineering.
When I was in my second year, and not doing well, I took an Intro to Business for Engineers course. I had one class on accounting, one on marketing, one on finance, one on organizational behaviour — and my whole world changed. I did a complete pivot. I dropped out of engineering and I went into commerce, and just fell in love with business.
I actually have a picture in my mind of sitting in that classroom decades ago and just feeling this passion and excitement, knowing that’s what I wanted to do.
I believe that premature long-term career goals for young people can often do more damage than good. When you have all this pressure on you, either from parents or the pressure put on yourself, you don’t notice yourself growing and maturing in an evolving world. The worst thing you can do is spend 20 or 30 years climbing a ladder, only to find that it is leaning against the wrong wall.
Q. As you come into the Allard Chair role, what’s your best advice for students?
When you're a student in university, you look at your degree or diploma as a project to get done. So my advice for students would be to think about the purpose for your education. Academics is only the start of a learning continuum. You need to stay curious and keep the practice of learning going throughout your entire life. University is a good place to start. If you can learn how to learn, you can continue learning long after you’ve finished school.
HR students prepare for real-world careers
An experiential learning project had Bachelor of Commerce students building training workshops for community organizations.
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.