Published on January 31, 2019
Naseem Bashir knows the difficulties of managing a mid-sized company in Western Canada today.
Competitors from outside the province, even country, are showing up hungry for work, and that demands creative leadership from the president and CEO of Williams Engineering Canada. Talent, brand and sustainability are constant priorities, as they would be for any savvy executive.
What sets Bashir apart, however, is his ability to hold a company together despite disaster.
That was tested five years ago. In October 2007, a company plane piloted by CEO and founder Allen Williams crashed, killing him and the CFO. Five months later, another plane flown by Allen’s son Reagan– his successor as CEO – also went down, claiming his life and those of two other top executives and two contract employees.
Called up to Edmonton from his Calgary post as vice president, Bashir postponed grieving to focus on the company’s viability. “There’s no map to tell you what you should be doing,” at a time like that, he says. “All you can do is rely on your own basic instincts and principles.”
He admits to thinking it would be easier to let someone else step in. Calgary was home; he’d be uprooting his family and leaving friends. But that risk had to be weighed against that faced by the company. The future of every employee, him included, lay in the balance.
Today, the company is ready and eager to grow. A regional firm with a reputation for reliability, environmentally friendly designs and community-mindedness, Williams Engineering is eyeing the possibility of going international. The current economic climate – involving more clouds than sunshine – may delay those ambitions, but Bashir seems satisfied with progress under his leadership.
Looking back, as hard as the decision to lead the company may have once seemed, “I think I made the right choice.”
— Scott Messenger