FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Guy Mallabone
February 2, 2016
He gets things done. He isn’t shy, so who is this guy, this Guy Mallabone guy?
I first met him in 2000; I was on a committee at the Chamber of Commerce, he was at SAIT – and suddenly together with Bow Valley College, we were doing a joint initiative and Guy was driving the process. I saw him in action – and saw others reacting to him, saw him as confident, influential, respected, relentless, maybe a bit pushy. Never shy …
Recently I sat down with him between travel junkets (his) and found that he’s not slowed down – doesn’t slow down, even when he’s sitting down, the animation and passion are like an energy drink with legs – but with sense and sensibility. Let’s begin at the beginning:
Guy was born in Calgary, first born (he has a younger brother and sister). Mom stayed home. She came from a farming background. Dad grew up in Canmore, his family were in coal mining – but he went into law, was at TransCanada. Like most first born types – he sought to follow in dad’s footsteps. He did high school in Montreal (dad worked there during the FLQ crisis ..yikes!). The family returned to Calgary. A B.Comm from University of Calgary did NOT lead to law school. After graduation, a career in banking or the oil patch looked like a logical route …
But, first some background and context. Guy was not a jock. He admits to being a fairly average student. C’s & B’s. A professor said he got ‘gentlemanly C’s’. Music was his thing. Piano and trombone. The Calgary Stampede Band. A marketing course excited him. A music world mentor offered him a job: Executive Director of the Canadian Band Association (their offices were hosted at U of C). A seven-year gig. He learned about boards, met his wife – a music story/interview there someday perhaps – and then wanderlust/opportunities took him away. Calgary Chamber of Commerce (manager of programs) two years, Red Cross (fundraising for Alberta) eight years – then to the University of Alberta in 1995, which led to, among other things, establishing U of A offices in Calgary. $145 million raised at U of A. Not too shabby! Then Irene Lewis called, recruiting, and Guy said no. On the second call she made the sale – and Guy returned to Calgary as VP & Chief Development officer at SAIT. He chaired the World Skills Competition – hosted in Calgary, in 2009. A $60 million event. “We did well, inspired by Irene’s vision, we were punching way above our weight. We secured a lot of large gifts.”
It was eleven years, time for change. Guy says, in terms of looking for the next opportunity, “I wanted something that turns me on – good causes. I knew an organization based in Hong Kong that wasn’t in Canada, so I brought them here. We sell management expertise to not-for-profits. Universities, hospitals – large and small, across the country.”
His company is – Global Philanthropic – he’s CEO for Canada, has four offices across the country and associate relationships where it doesn’t.
Why are you successful? “I’m driven by outcomes, not outputs. I want to see impacts. I’m collaborative. I enjoy sucking the marrow out of life!”
What has held you back? “Only 24 hours in each day. My life expectancy of 102. And I wish I’d reached out more, sooner, not waiting for life to come to me … finding my calling in the not-for-profit sector – it’s what holds this country together.”
How do you see your business – helping organizations find capital resources for their mission - going forward over the next quarter?’
… we’re coming off our best year – ever. Alberta is hurting right now, but we have lots of Alberta business! Needs are greater in tough times.
And over the next five years?
… there is a trend, all over the world, this sector is exploding. What we risk is a lack of leadership. We have the public sector, the private sector and the ‘third sector’. That’s us. Everything that falls through the cracks – fulfilled through volunteerism and donated funds. ‘Corporate philanthropy’ is an oxymoron.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… trusting my instincts. Looking for value. But I’m not a price guy. I’m a loyal consumer, but the value has to be there.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Guy Mallabone, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… experience, passion. Lots of other secondary pieces, of course, but passion is so under-rated. Logic leads to conclusions. Passion leads to actions. Passion for emerging technologies.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… that’s two questions. Leadership style – I like to lead from behind. Prevention, in overcoming obstacles. Management style – hire the very best people, and then get out of their way. Like the teams I put together at SAIT.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… not a lot. About my kids being happy. Family, health. The older I get, I wish I had more life …
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… my wife. She’s been a key part of my success and an advisor. We understand each other. A stable family – my barometer, interested in what I am doing. Terry Flanagan has been a great influence. And luck. It is a huge element.
Work-life balance – do you have it?
… I have a great balance – healthy, happy and productive – and my family would agree.
… love to travel. We’re just back from Spain. Thailand last Christmas. Golf is fun, but I’m not good at it … (27 handicap).
What do you read?
… lots. Historical fiction. Lots of industry reading. 80% on my Kindle. Ken Follett books – Pillars Of The Earth, others …
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