Published on January 31, 2019
Julie M. Shaw was working her first job at Nelson Lumber in Edmonton when a young couple came in, house plans in hand, to buy the materials they needed to build their new two-storey home.
She immediately noticed a glaring omission. “I said, ‘You know you don’t have a staircase in these plans.’ They just kind of looked at each other.”
Three decades later, Shaw applies the same matter-of-factness to her role as vice president facilities, design and management with Shaw Communications.
Founded in 1966 by her father, JR Shaw (Distinguished Friend of the Institute ’97, Honorary Diploma in Business Administration ’07), the company has grown to become Canada’s leading communications provider. She also serves as vice chair of Corus Entertainment .
Shaw has always had a keen interest in the mechanics of how buildings come together. After she completed her education, she landed an interior design job with Vancouver firm Hopping Kovach Grinnell while “moonlighting” for the family business back in Alberta.
“When your family asks you to do something, it’s always, ‘It won’t take long,’” she says with a chuckle. “My dad or brother would ask, ‘Could you just do this? Could you just do that?’ You feel compelled.”
Today, she and her team run all of Shaw’s sites across Canada, managing everything from building improvement and design to parking. She’s overseeing the construction of a 25,200-square-metre (280,000-square-foot) data centre in Calgary, due to open around 2015, and a new Global TV studio in Halifax.
“We want to make sure it’s a creative environment that’s exciting and motivating [for the company’s more than 14,000 employees].”
One thing’s for sure: she’ll never miss a staircase.
— Eliza Barlow