Winnipeg's Dave Angus recently found himself at the top of the chamber of commerce heap when he was named Canada's top chamber executive for 2012.
The honour was based on factors such as outstanding performance, membership growth at the candidate's chamber, the chamber's financial health and the candidate's contribution to the chamber profession and to the success of his or her organization.
In typical Dave Angus style, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president and CEO was quick to credit his colleagues, saying they were the ones who deserved the accolades.
But he also said it was an honour just the same, and he admitted in a later interview with the Free Press that it's an honour he never expected to receive. He agreed to answer a few questions, some relating to his chamber work and one that came out of left field.
When you graduated from Transcona Collegiate, was it always your plan to pursue a career in business?
"No, I just kind of fell into the commerce faculty. I can't even recall why. I just went through it, and initially I thought I would be an accountant and so I took my first accounting course. And I realized, I thought, 'Well, maybe marketing was more for me.' So that was what I graduated with, and then I just started a business career."
Did you think then that one day you would end up as the head of the city's largest business organization?
"Never in a million years. Never. When I was kind of a bit of a chamber brat and poked around the chamber as a volunteer, I held the CEO, which was Bill Draper at the time, in such high esteem because he was such a gentleman and such a professional. But never, ever, did I think I would ever have his position here. So it's just an unbelievable honour for me to be sitting in this seat."
I understand you were recently in Russia. Can you tell me how long you were there and why you were there?
"Well, I was there for about five days and it was the first World Trade Centre Annual Congress that we went to now that we have a world trade centre licence. So it was very exciting, because we had a chance to meet our counterparts from around the world who also run world trade centres. So that was the purpose of it."
Can you tell me what your impression was of Russia?
"We did two cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Moscow is so big. It has 14 million people. But I was really impressed with St. Petersburg. It's just a beautiful city with historic architecture. It reminded me of Winnipeg in many ways. They're just so steeped in culture and really celebrate their culture and history. So I was really impressed with St. Petersburg."
You were approached before the last civic election to run for mayor. If you could be mayor for a day and make any change you wanted, what would you change?
"(Laughing) I'm glad you didn't go where I thought you were going to go! But it's funny. If you had asked me that question five years ago, I would have said I would love to be able to change our local attitude towards ourselves, because we were our own biggest enemy in terms of always having to apologize for our city and not being real boosters. But that has changed, so not sure right now if I would change anything. I am so enthusiastic about what's going on and I think we now have this great confidence and pride in our city. Yeah, there are little things I would change, but I think it's all positive."