Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Forty Under 40 Award winner Q&A: Ashton Herriott

This year’s cohort of recipients will be celebrated at an event Feb. 7, 2024

BIV is recognizing Ashton Herriott, principal of CAI Capital Partners, and 39 other exceptional business leaders as part of the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards cohort.

Longer Q&As with each recipient are included in BIV's annual Forty Under 40 Magazine (out in print Dec. 11). Award winners will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 7, 2024.

This profile may have been edited for length and clarity.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

The lead role that I played in our firm’s investment in Javelin Technologies. We made the investment in 2018 and concurrently acquired a business in a complementary space. The combined business emerged as the dominant market leader in Canada, serving more than 6,000 customers in manufacturing, health care and education. We successfully exited the investment in 2021, generating the highest annualized return on a single investment in CAI’s 30-plus-year history. Personally, it was incredibly rewarding to contribute to building a market-leading business in Canada, and I value the deep friendships forged with the Javelin team that continue to this day.

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

The decision to stay at CAI Capital Partners, which was undergoing a “re-launch” in 2015 following the retirement of its founding partners and the closure of its Toronto and New York offices. With no former investors committed to our new fund, we found ourselves starting from scratch. At that time, I had received a compelling offer to lead the corporate development group of a large public company. Although the role promised significantly higher pay and was considered the “safe” option, my entrepreneurial side was drawn to the opportunity to contribute to and build a successful private equity firm in Vancouver.

How do you lead?

I have always strived to lead by example and set high standards for myself. As my leadership style evolves, I am working hard to become a more effective communicator. I have witnessed firsthand that most challenges within a team or organization stem from a lack of communication, which often leads to misalignment and misunderstandings.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned in business?

You cannot judge the quality of decisions solely by their outcomes. While our world tends to reward people based on results, life involves countless variables beyond our control. I am a big believer in looking back at the decisions that led to successes and failures to try to objectively determine what led to the outcome.

Best piece of advice ever received?

While I can’t pinpoint one specific piece of advice, I've always valued guidance emphasizing humility and recognizing one's fortune. Hard work and talent are only small ingredients to achieving success. Being born in Canada and raised by two loving, supportive parents is akin to winning the lottery, and it is important to not lose sight of that. A quote I recently came across captures this perspective: “A lot of people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Do not underestimate the value of soft skills. While hard skills are emphasized in our education system and may get you onto the ladder, it's soft skills and emotional intelligence that will determine how high you will climb. Soft skills will help you to build strong relationships, lead effectively and navigate complex challenges. In my experience, most problems that need to be solved on a day-to-day basis relate to people.

What's left to accomplish?

Lots! But more importantly, I want to enjoy the journey.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge?

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my parents for their unwavering love and support. From a young age, they always encouraged me to pursue my passions and their work ethic and strong moral compass has guided me throughout my life.

Read Q&As with all 40 award recipients here. Tickets to the 2023 Forty Under 40 Awards gala on Feb. 7 are now available.