Darrell Kuhn was blind-sided when he was named one of the region’s top 50 CEO’s by Atlantic Business Magazine in 2015.
Jump ahead two years and the Chief Executive Officer for Community Credit Union will receive the award for a third consecutive year when he attends the gala in St. John’s, Newfoundland later this month.
“I’m not an award seeker,” said a humbled Kuhn, “and by saying that, I’m not taking anything away from the process or the award. I’ve received a number or prestigious honours like this and every time it happens, I find myself wondering why anyone would think to put my name forward. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around it.”
A nomination for the honour must come from a Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame member. That’s someone who has won the award themselves five times. In Kuhn’s case, he’s been nominated by Dianne Kelderman, president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council.
After being elected to the hall of fame, Kelderman has made it a personal mission to nominate business leaders in the co-operative and credit union sector who are worthy but underrepresented in the nomination list.
“Once you’ve been nominated, it’s up to the individual to determine whether they want to accept the award or not,” said Kuhn. “I accepted for two main reasons. First and foremost, it was a way to say thank you to Dianne for nominating me. The second reason was because of the opportunity it presented to make this about the team I have around me. I don’t care what you do; you don’t win an award like this unless you have a strong, dedicated team.”
Once the nomination has been accepted, a nomination questionnaire must be filled out. According to Kuhn, each question is scored by a committee made up of Top 50 CEO Hall of Famers. Each nominee is given an overall tally which is used to determine who will receive the award. The top scoring nominee is also named the CEO of the Year for the entire region
Atlantic Business Magazine has been honouring Atlantic Canada’s most accomplished business leaders since 1999. Each year, it dedicates one of its six publications solely to the awards. Recipients actually receive a copy, complete with a written profile and picture, during the red carpet, black-tie gala each year.
“It’s a beautiful crystal award that’s engraved,” said Kuhn. “They really put on a great show. Last year, the gala was held in Moncton and that was pretty special because that’s where I’m from. I was able to have my entire family join me. They definitely know what I do but you always wonder to what level. So this was a great way for them to get a clear picture of what it is our team does and the impact it has.”
Kuhn adds members of the Community Credit Union’s board of directors and management team also join him at the event. This year, he’s part of an eight-person contingent heading to Newfoundland.
While Kuhn is quick to downplay the honour, Kelderman says the Atlantic Top 50 CEO Award is one of the highest business recognition awards in the region.
In her opinion, it represents Atlantic Canada’s ‘A’ team.
“I have had the privilege of being a judge so I know intimately how competitive and coveted the award is,” she said. “You are not only competing with business leaders in your own province but in all of Atlantic Canada including some very big, multinational businesses.”
She continued by saying the award is special in that it takes into account not only the pure business aspects such as sales, profitability and growth, but also looks at the person behind the numbers.
“It looks at their creativity and innovation, how they deal with challenge and conflict, how they treat other people, do they volunteer and contribute to their community, are they visionary and risk takers and are they team players. It’s about what really makes them tick,” Kelderman said.
She was honoured to have the chance to nominate Kuhn.
“Darrell is a very humble man. He is more comfortable praising and shining the light on others, rather than himself,” said Kelderman. “He embodies the essence of this prestigious award. He has taken Community Credit Union to new heights as a business and an economic driver in both the Truro and Amherst. Our community profile and brand has never been greater. We are growing, expanding, profitable and innovative. He ensures that Community Credit Union lives its credit union values, its credit union difference – that it truly is a “community” finance institution first. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.”
As he prepares to accept his third award, one might think Kuhn is used to the recognition. However, he says that’s not the case. Each year he’s honoured and humbled to be ranked among the top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada.
“They each feel different,” he said. “I think part of that is because I feel different. But what I’m most thrilled about is the fact that each year it brings something we’ve done in our community to the forefront. That’s so important to me. We have a strategic objective to be a strong supporter of community. I want us to be recognized as a major corporate community contributor and I’m not just talking monetarily. I’m talking about in-kind contributions as well. We want to be right at the top doing our thing.
“On a personal level, it’s about leaving a legacy,” continued Kuhn. “I’ve been blessed to work with this organization and I can only hope that when I leave, I’ve somehow managed to make it a bit better. That’s what’s important to me at the end of the day.”
While Kuhn refuses to look ahead at the possibility that he too could become a member of the CEO hall of fame, Kelderman has him covered.
“I will be cheering very loud when he is inducted into the hall of fame in a couple of years,” she said.