Interview with Edmonton’s Glen McKay: Essential Traits of the Modern Entrepreneur

Glen McKay is an entrepreneur and businessman with more than forty years of business leadership experience.  Based in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, Glen serves as the chair of the board of directors of Newfoundland Hard-Rok Inc., a leading mining, construction and quarry explosives manufacturer and supplier in Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland Hard-Rok Inc. also offers a full complement of drilling and blasting services throughout the region and has been involved in a range of construction, mining, and industrial projects.

In addition to his role with Newfoundland Hard-Rok Inc., Glen McKay is the founder and president of Sealan Capital, a private equity firm based in Newfoundland, and the cofounder of Cornerstone Capital Resources Inc., a mineral exploration company that is involved with the Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador.

You’ve worked in several different sectors in your career. What do you think has contributed to your success and helped you take on leadership roles in those different fields?

It’s a cliché to say that I have a lot of drive and perseverance, but that’s true. And I think the difference for successful entrepreneurs has to do with how you apply that drive. You must be willing to push yourself to learn new things all the time and to be willing to fail, so that you can learn from your mistakes. Being an entrepreneur means having a drive to create something new, to take a risk, to learn concepts and acquire wisdom that you didn’t have before. Most entrepreneurs I know, and I include myself here, feel that drive consistently.

What qualities should an effective leader have?

I think an effective leader is always a good listener. Someone who’s willing to stay humble, listen to good ideas, but who has a lot of ambition and can provide vision and motivation for a team. The best leaders can elicit from their team productivity, innovative ideas, and a willingness to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. That’s a tall order, but I think being a good listener goes a long way to helping someone be a good leader.

A good leader can recognize that one of the most important assets for any organization is the people. If you value the people who contribute their time and their skills to your organization, you’ll find that leading them is easy. Establishing that key esprit-de-corps comes from the attitudes of those at the top.

What would you say is the most important piece of wisdom you’ve acquired in your career?

One of the most important things I’ve learned is about how to find good people—I know what qualities to look for. A lot of that is based on the knowledge that I’ve obtained over time, through years of work. I’d say that I’m always looking for people I think can be good leaders in their own right. People who have talent, who are self-motivated, and who like to work hard. Those are the kinds of employees you want to have on your team if you’re trying to build something new. In my experience as an entrepreneur, when you’re first starting out with your new company, you must be able to rely on everyone on your team to be able to step into another role if need be. As I mentioned before, a good leader must be able to help their team be flexible, but it helps if your team already has a knack for adaptability.

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