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Need to Know: Lee Malleau

Calgary Economic Development’s Lee Malleau thinks Calgary has a ton of upside

Jan 10, 2014

by Max Fawcett

Lee Malleau
Photograph Heather Saitz

DOB: 1965
Hometown: Sudbury, Ontario
Higher ed: Journalism and economic development degrees, University of Waterloo
First job: Dishwasher and assistant cook
First real job: Darkroom technician, photographer and reporter for the Sudbury Star

The Person
Never let it be said that journalists can’t enjoy a long and prosperous career. It’s just that sometimes they have to switch fields to find one. That’s the case with Lee Malleau, who arrived in Calgary last January to become the vice-president of business and trade development with the Calgary Economic Development Corporation.

The Past
A former journalist who grew up in Sudbury, Malleau was in the midst of a successful stint as the CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission, where she leveraged the 2010 Olympic Winter games to attract investment to the city and nurtured the city’s high-tech sector. “I loved Vancouver,” Malleau says. “It was a tremendous role, and the work was really exciting, but I had to make some personal decisions around where I wanted to live.”

The Present
Like journalism, economic development is about spotting trends and crafting narratives. “It’s research, outreach and reporting,” she says. “Those parallels are clear.” The key difference is that now she delivers her messages to the world. “A big push for us is to understand we connect to the world outside of Calgary.”

She also works to attract and retain the talent needed for a successful 21st century economy. “The challenge is keeping our entrepreneurs, our technologies, our innovation and the commercialization of that innovation here in Alberta,” she says. In that respect, quality of life is key. “Even five years ago, labour went to the company. Now companies are going to labour. That’s going to be an interesting challenge for us, and livability and affordability factors need to be top of mind for us and for our leaders.”

The Future
Malleau intends to stay in Calgary for the long haul. “I think Calgary is the future centre of Canada – the economic and the social centre,” she says. And while her move to Calgary might someday see her replacing CEDC’s current CEO, Bruce Graham, that’s a long way off. “He has big shoes, and he fills them very well, so the priority would be to keep him in those shoes for as long as possible.”

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