“We need to start ­looking at what we need to do to ensure our population is a skilled population with the right kinds of skills for attracting business and industry to Alberta” – Sam Shaw

In the year 2014, Canadians dealt with a devastating NHL lockout but ended the summer with a debt-free province and a 100-year anniversary for the City of Edmonton. The same year, Sam Shaw clinched the title of Alberta Venture’s Business Person of the Year, and for good reason. By treating Edmonton’s Northern Institute of Technology (NAIT) as a business rather than a government-reliant institution, in the seven-year period from his arrival in 1997, Shaw doubled the annual budget to $204 million. Shaw spearheaded numerous projects including NAIT in Motion – two tractor-trailer units carrying a mobile classroom that offered skills training for communities in remote areas. During Shaw’s presidency, NAIT saw the opening of 14 different centres, providing students with the infrastructure and equipment needed to take part in the high standard of technical training offered at the institute. “We need to embrace post-secondary as an investment, not an expense,” Shaw says. “I think we need to start looking at what we need to do to ensure our population is a skilled population with the right kinds of skills for attracting business and industry to Alberta.” With those values in mind, in 2004 Shaw pushed NAIT to an outstanding placement result–93 per cent of students gained employment within nine months of completing their studies. “Employers know that NAIT grads have both the technical abilities and the problem solving savvy that make for a valuable employee – I hear it time and time again,” Shaw says. His fondest memory is standing on the stage with graduating students and shaking each had as they walk across the stage. “You give students the kind of support and resources they need, they can do amazing things,” he says. Since his departure from NAIT In 2010, Shaw carried that mindset forward, traveling to the United Arab Emirates where he created and implemented a proposal to reintroduce diploma programs to the Higher Colleges of Technology. He was also a key figure in consolidating the 26-year-old, 17-president model under one well-oiled administration. After a slight run-in with politics in 2011, in which he “dodged a bullet” for losing out on Senate election, Shaw has been working on a new opportunity involving his passion for the past 25 years – Aboriginal post-secondary education. Shaw is now the president of Yellowhead Tribal College.

The Year that Was 2004

Alberta’s Population 3 million

Alberta is hit with severe storms, battering cars with hail, flooding streets damaging 8,500 homes

The loonie reaches 10-year high, soaring to 80 cents U.S.

About 6,000 public servants go on strike in Alberta