Atlantic Business Magazine’s 2022 CEO of the Year

Posted on July 05, 2022 | By Stephen Kimber | 0 Comments

 

Chief Terry Paul, Atlantic Business Magazine’s 2022 CEO of the Year

 

Terry Paul was incredulous. It was 2017, and the chief of the Membertou First Nation was chairing his band’s weekly Monday morning executive meeting. At the time, Membertou was exponentially growing its annual inshore commercial lobster quota and urgently needed to add more boats to its fleet just to keep up with its growing opportunity. But, after checking with commercial boat builders, a member of the band’s executive had had to report back to this morning’s meeting that Membertou would need to “get in line.” The current wait to have a lobster boat built was at least three years.

Three years!

Terry Paul was shocked.

And then he was intrigued.

Three years…

Membertou, he thought, couldn’t be the only First Nation in need of new fishing vessels. And what about non-Indigenous fishers?… There must be a market there too. “We’ll build our own boats,” he announced suddenly to his startled executive team. “At first, it was, like, ‘Wait a minute, what do we know about boat building?’” remembers Kelsea MacNeil, Membertou’s director of public relations and business development. “But then we thought, ‘Why not?’ “Chief Terry,” she adds, “looks at what other people might see as roadblocks and sees them in a different way. ‘If we’re waiting, others must be too.’ He sees opportunities.” That is one reason why Terrance Paul—who is both the chief of Nova Scotia’s 1,700-member Membertou band and the CEO of its Membertou Development Corporation—is Atlantic Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year for 2022. But just one reason.

You might imagine that the primary reason Paul is being recognized as CEO of the Year is because he orchestrated 2020’s stunning $1-billion deal in which seven Mi’kmaq First Nations, in partnership with British Columbia-based Premium Brands, acquired a half interest in fishery giant Clearwater Seafoods Inc.

You would not be wrong.

But the truth is there are a lifetime’s worth of related good reasons—including the story behind the story of Membertou’s boat building adventure, as well as his own life’s journey—to honour Terrance Paul, the first Indigenous CEO to win the award.

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