Profile: Garry Flett - Leader creates a cicle of trust

By Myra Ross - Friday, May 25 2012

ACFN is the umbrella organization for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) business ventures. Since its inception in the mid-1990’s, the ACFN Business Group has evolved into a network of wholly owned and joint venture businesses with more than 1,400 employees.

Led by Garry Flett, President and CEO, the ACFN Business Group decided it needed a home of its own. And today, many believe it is one of the best decisions the ACFN has made. Located at 220 Taiganova Eco-industrial Park, the new home of ACFN Business Group is the only LEEDS gold-certified building in the region and one of only seven in Alberta. By July 2012, six of ACFN’s 17 business ventures will be housed there along with the support staff.

Garry attributes much of his success as a CEO to his management team. “I have the right people in the right places,” he says. “I always gather information before making a decision and, when there’s any question or uncertainty, I connect with my management team. I utilize them consistently and I rely on their ability to convince me,” he adds, smiling. Garry’s heritage, family of origin and work choice greatly influenced his actions as a leader and decision-maker.
One of 13 children of Duncan and Elizabeth Flett, Garry was born and raised in Fort Smith, NWT, and arrived in the region at age 24 as a journeyman heavy-duty mechanic. He began with Syncrude on July 24, 1979 and worked for ‘the energy giants’ another 30 years until he ‘retired’.

Garry’s mother Elizabeth is his hero. Born a member of the Dene Nation, she grew up in Fort Chipewyan before moving to Fort Smith with her husband and raising 13 children. “I admire her ability, her power, to make you do what it was that you dreamed about doing,” Garry explains. “It had to do with the push that she applied to you without letting you know that you had been pushed. She had this ability to influence you to carry on,” he continues. “She was always checking to see where you were at and she just kept saying ‘Don’t quit’.”Similarly, Garry sees his greatest strength as the ability to generate trust amongst his management team. “I need them to feel free to influence me,” he says. “It’s a trust. I trust my people. If you are on my team, you are in my circle, you are like family.”

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