We are delighted to announce Shirley Westeinde, Chair, Westeinde Group as the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
Ms. Westeinde becomes the first woman to receive the honour, which until 2011 was known as the Business Person of the Year award. She will be honoured at the 2015 Best Ottawa Business Awards (The BOBs).
“We are delighted to honour Ms. Westeinde not only for her remarkable business achievements, but also for the social impact she has created, especially for being such a visible and active role model for so many entrepreneurs” said Ian Faris, President and CEO, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. “She is a tower of strength and has contributed enormously to take Ottawa’s construction and development industry to new heights.”
“It totally caught me off guard,” said Ms. Westeinde in a statement. “I think it’s important that we try to continue to ensure that women are kept in the forefront. It’s quite an honour.”
A nurse by training, the mother of three and grandmother of 10 knew little about the construction business when her husband John, then employed at a major Canadian construction company came home one day in 1978 and said he would never work for anyone else again.
The couple launched Westeinde Construction later that year, and the business eventually grew into a group of companies specializing in real estate development and property management. Ms. Westeinde threw herself into being an entrepreneur with characteristic determination, working at the office by day and taking courses at Algonquin College at night.
Women were rare in the construction sector then, and she had few role models to look to for guidance. Yet she eventually compiled a resume filled with enough accomplishments and accolades to earn her membership in the prestigious Order of Canada.
In 1994, she became the first and only woman to chair the Building Owners and Managers Association of Ottawa. A decade later, Ms. Westeinde achieved an even more monumental milestone – she was named the first woman Chair of the Canadian Construction Association, becoming the first female to assume that role in a major North American contractors’ group.
Ms. Westeinde’s achievements in the business world are matched by her efforts to make her community a better place. She has become a passionate crusader for greater awareness of mental health issues and is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.
As the first female Chair of the Ottawa Economic Development Corporation (a forerunner of Invest Ottawa), Ms. Westeinde helped lead the push to get direct flights from Ottawa to more cities south of the border. She later chaired Ottawa 2000, an organization that worked with regional municipalities and the National Capital Commission on projects to celebrate the millennium.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Ms. Westeinde at the Best Ottawa Business Awards (The BOBs) Gala on November 18, 2015 at the Shaw Centre. The BOBs are presented in partnership with the Ottawa Business Journal.
For tickets and more information, go to bestottawabusiness.ca.