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Forty Under 40 Award winner Q&A: Gavin Dew

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

BIV is recognizing Gavin Dew, chief strategy officer at the Abbotsford Tech District, 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?

I’m really proud of my work getting to yes on major projects across Canada, from housing to energy infrastructure to gaming to innovation hubs. That helped unlock billions in investment and thousands of jobs that give people opportunities to build better lives for their families. Turning around projects with challenges and getting complicated stuff done is what gets me up every morning – that and a lot of coffee!

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

I’ve left a couple of great jobs working with great people in order to run for office, and each time it was a really gut-wrenching decision. I’ve really wrestled with the tension between heeding the call to serve versus making an impact through business. I worry that the polarized political discourse has made it harder and harder to convince good people to take up public service, especially young leaders who also want to build a career and support a family. Choosing to walk that line has been really tough, but I wouldn’t change the decisions I’ve made.

How do you lead?

When I was younger, I thought leadership was some kind of Shakespearian general on horseback giving a rousing speech to his gathered troops, urging them onward to glory. That wasn’t me. Over time, I found that my style of leadership is all about connecting the dots between people, ideas and opportunities. I try to bring people together, discover what makes them tick and invite them to be part of something exciting. Then I do what I can to unlock their potential in ways that benefit them individually while also contributing to a broader vision.

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

Build the right team. Never stop asking questions. Fail fast and fail forward. Keep getting back on the darn horse.

Best piece of advice ever received?

Lift as you rise. Leadership is about creating more leaders, not more followers.

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

Stop trying to prove you’re smart.

What's left to accomplish?

Build good stuff. Raise good kids. Serve the people.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge?

Becoming a father gave roots to my aspiration and provided me with a really clear sense of purpose and direction – it gave me a why. I’m thankful to my family for being both the why and the how of what I have accomplished.

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