Diane Brickner, Age: 62
Hometown: Colonsay, Saskatchewan
Influential because: She breaks the mold in the insurance industry
You generally don’t make friends in the insurance industry by criticizing it. But somehow Diane Brickner did just that, and still has more friends than many in the business. In 2011, after a forest fire claimed much of Slave Lake, the industry wanted to share costs by hiring one contractor to clear debris. Peace Hills Insurance, under Brickner, hired its own firm. The reason? Much of the soil was contaminated and the company wanted the job done right. “We stood up to the industry to say, ‘We are going to do this on our own, even though it’s more expensive,’ ” Brickner told Alberta Venture in December. For such principled tenacity, Brickner was named Alberta’s Business Person of the Year last year. She is preparing to retire, though has given no date for her departure. Peace Hills, the unique, First Nations-owned insurance company she helped start, now has assets of $325 million, and the Samson Cree, the original investors, hold $65 million in equity from a $2-million original investment.