Business Investment & Attraction

Leadership Spotlight

The coronavirus pandemic continues to test business leaders in every sector around the world. Our region is no exception; however, Fort McMurray’s business community has taken yet another hit at a time when global oil prices have collapsed.

Head shot of Kevin Weidlich

No access to markets and the recent effects of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oversupply of oil are also putting immense pressure on our region’s business leadership. The current business environment coupled with historic low oil prices and the legacy of the Horse River Wildfire amplifies the significant impacts of this pandemic. Together, these exceptional situations have bred true leaders in change. This region’s experience with emergency and significant interruption has trained our CEO’s, Executives, and Owners on how to respond to extreme circumstances. Our region’s business leaders are using the same decisive, forward-thinking mindsets today - to navigate the immense scale and rapid evolution of COVID-19.

Decisive leadership during a crisis is about adaption and transparency. We are seeing these behaviours throughout our region but especially in our energy industry. One example is how Imperial and its partners are managing the COVID-19 outbreak at the Kearl Lake oil sands facility. Imperial Oil’s Vice-President of Production, Simon Younger is openly addressing the situation while balancing the privacy of those affected. By staying alert and implementing an immediate and scalable response, Kearl’s leadership is remaining focused on what matters most; the safety of employees and their families while keeping the organization trained on business continuity. This is what leadership in an advanced democracy looks like: open and informed.

Matching this leadership, Alberta’s Oil Sands producers are demonstrating that they truly care about their workers and the health and safety of all Canadians. These measures impact our region and the communities coast-to-coast where industry workers travel to and from. Alberta’s oil and gas industry competes on a global scale and our producers and supply chains are proving why. The resilient leadership of Alberta’s Oil Sands will contribute to safeguarding a recovery worthy of our Nation’s attention and support. Canada should be proud. In times of crisis, we need to trust, collaborate, and support each other. Together we will strengthen our country.


Kevin Weidlich, CEO
Wood Buffalo Economic Development