OBJ honours its 40 Under 40

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Tom Pechloff
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Ottawa’s youngest and brightest entrepreneurs were decked out to the nines – and maybe even 10s – Thursday night when OBJ and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce paid tribute to the 2014 Forty Under 40 recipients.

(Photo by Mark Holleron)

Hosts Lois Lee of CTV Morning Live and Carlo Lombard of Progressive Shift opened the show at the Hilton Lac Leamy by paying tribute to the good-looking group of recipients.

“These are the people you bring home to Mom,” joked Ms. Lee.

The actual presentations happened in groups of 10, 10 and 20 recipients with some speeches, video tributes and dinner mixed in along the way.

In the videos, the recipients were asked a number of questions, including, “What was your favourite bedtime story?”

“Walter the farting dog,” said Tim Snelling, 39, president of Palladium Insurance.

Mayor Jim Watson was among the speakers. Mr. Watson said he was optimistic about the future of business in the capital, noting the cranes all over the city, the Lansdowne Park renovation which will see the return of CFL football next month, mall expansions to the east, west and downtown and the LRT project that is on track and on budget.

Earlier in the day, OBJ Publisher Michael Curran said the lavish event is a far cry from the original idea.

“Really, it started off as small and as simple as a few people sitting around a boardroom table saying, ‘If we were, right now, to jot down a list of 40 young businesspeople in the city, who would it include?’ and that was as complicated as it got 17 years ago,” he said.

That was well before the dawn of Twitter. On this night, the fingers were flying as fast as the business cards as #OTT40 trended higher than the ribfest on Sparks Street.

Mr. Curran said this year’s crew represented a broad range of businesses. Perhaps there is no better example than the only musician in the field, bluesman J.W. Jones, 33, who said he has to do much more than just play guitar and sing to make a living.

“I spend a lot of my time touring and working on the business behind the scenes,” he said. “So because I spend so much time on the business, and actually less time on the music itself, it’s a real honour because I feel like I’m winning an award for something I do more frequently than actually playing music.”

In addition to Mr. Jones, the Forty Under 40 recipients were a diverse group featuring everyone from restaurant owners to film producers, with a healthy representation from the legal, financial and high-tech worlds as well.

After dinner, host Mr. Lombard got all the male recipients on stage for a dancing demonstration.

It’s a good thing they have day jobs.

The night was not just for the recipients, but for the team behind them, noted one of the group, Darcy Walsh, vice-president, national director business development for Hill & Knowlton Strategies.

“I couldn’t have it done it without them,” the 37-year-old said. “We have an incredible team not only in Ottawa, but across the country with Hill & Knowlton.”

Mr. Walsh added it was important for this group to get together and talk, not only for the benefit of their companies but for the city as a whole.

Plenty of 40 Under 40 alumni were also on hand to pay tribute to this year’s winners.

Katy Pelletier, 35, director of sales for Spartan Bioscience, said the award was not something she had always thought about receiving, although she has known about it for about 10 years.

“I did have it in the back of my mind that it would be something that would be amazing to win one day. It’s pretty surreal that I’m receiving it,” she said.

The night also was an opportunity to raise funds for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, with prizes from the likes of sponsors Davidson’s Jewellers, Porter Airlines and the Ottawa Senators. Organizers were hoping the event would raise anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for the foundation.

Once all was said and done, it was time to bust some moves.

“It’s going to be a good party,” laughed Ms. Pelletier. “It’s definitely going to be a good party.”

For a full list of this year’s recipients, check out the OBJ June 9 edition.

Organizations: Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health

Geographic location: Ottawa

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