April 10, 2024

Sowing the seeds of leadership: Agricultural industry icon Kim McConnell named recipient of 2024 Inspiring Business Leader Award

Award from Haskayne School and Calgary Chamber of Commerce recognizes storied career
Kim McConnell
Entrepreneur Kim McConnell will receive the Inspiring Business Leader Award on June 20, 2024, becoming the 32nd recipient of the annual award. Jazhart Studios Inc.

With $5,000 in the bank and a home office in his basement, Kim McConnell launched his first business, Fieldstone Marketing, in 1984. At the time, he had finished a degree in agriculture from the University of Manitoba, and the entrepreneur recognized a growing gap in Canada’s agriculture industry.

He could see the advancements made in technology, production and research happening within agricultural companies, but where they lacked was an effective marketing department with expertise to translate innovation into sales. McConnell grew the company until it merged in 2002 and became AdFarm, one of North America’s largest agricultural marketing companies.

In his work with national and international agriculture and food companies, he oversaw significant marketing campaigns working with large multi-national brands. He was the recipient of the Agri-Marketer of the Year and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation Mentor of the Year. In 2012, he was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame and in 2017 received Canada’s highest civilian honour when he was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada. 

On April 10, the Haskayne School of Business and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce announced that Kim McConnell is the 2024 recipient of the Inspiring Business Leader Award. 

“We are so pleased to honour a visionary and well-respected leader in ag and food whose work has demonstrated how innovation, leadership and a deep respect for his field can lead to inspiring results and impact across a sector,” says Dr. Gina Grandy, dean of the Haskayne School of Business. “We celebrate not only his achievements throughout a storied career, but also his commitment to nurturing a sustainable future for all of us.”

McConnell will receive the award on June 20 and become the 32nd recipient of the annual award handed out by Haskayne at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, with support from gala partner Calgary Foundation. The event takes place at the new BMO Centre, giving many attendees a first look at the new facility in Stampede Park.

His belief in the industry’s potential remains unwavering. McConnell helped launch the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity to increase public trust in food. He’s a director and special adviser to many companies, governments, and industry leaders throughout North America, and a passionate supporter of youth and rural development.

He says he is personally inspired by family and “the entrepreneurial spirit.”

“Helping and inspiring entrepreneurs is something I truly enjoy and something I find extremely inspiring,” he says.

“Today I have formal mentorship involvement with eight emerging executives — six women and two men; they all range from ages early '30s to mid-'40s and they are located across Canada and one in the USA. I meet with them individually about every six weeks and I find this very inspiring.”

At the Inspiring Business Leaders Award gala on June 20, McConnell will have a fireside chat with Chamber President and CEO Deborah Yedlin.

On behalf of Calgary’s business community, I’m thrilled to recognize Kim McConnell as the recipient of the 2024 Inspiring Business Leader Award,” says Yedlin. 

“His entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to the agricultural sector is unparalleled. Not only has he helped to transform ag-related businesses, Kim has always been generous with his time to mentor and support those involved in the sector, with his advice frequently sought by businesses and policy-makers alike. I look forward to our fireside chat, where Kim's passion, insights and expertise will undoubtedly inspire new ideas and pathways for the future of agriculture.”

If you would like to purchase a table for this event, please do so here.

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