Ahmed Taha, Tervita’s director of oil and gas operations
Photograph Ryan Girard
Hometown: Lac La Biche
Higher ed: Concordia University College of Alberta
First experience in waste management: Edmonton Student Hauling
Face problems and find solutions: that philosophy has fuelled Ahmed Taha’s journey from teenage entrepreneur to the director of waste management operations with Tervita.
“I worked at my dad’s grocery store from age 12,” he says. While on a hockey scholarship in university, he blew out a knee. But rather than moping, he started a business hauling rubbish to help pay for his science degree. When Hazco (later Tervita) advertised for a waste technician in 2006, Taha threw on a suit, interviewed for the job and got the position. After a few years of paying his dues, Taha was ready when the company needed someone to run its facility in Fort McMurray in 2008. “Time is like money,” he says. “You have to invest it to learn your way through the organization.” Within a few years he was running one of the oil sands divisions. When, in 2011, he became executive vice-president oil sands, he was the youngest executive in the company.
In 2013, Taha and his wife moved to Edmonton so he could take on his next challenge as Tervita’s director of operations in Canada. Taha says the experience he gained in Fort McMurray has been integral to his – and the company’s – success. “You can’t read books on stuff like that,” he says. “It’s really experience, surrounding yourself with the right people who are like-minded, who want to make you better and to get better themselves.”
Talent poaching is a fact of life in the energy sector, but headhunters might want to leave Taha alone. After all, it’s not like more money would get him to change his mind anyways. “Some think money drives how people work but really it’s security,” he says. “Money will always follow you.” He’s found that sense of security at Tervita, and given the sheer volume of waste that the oil and gas industry produces, it’s safe to assume there will be opportunities for growth – both personal and corporate. “I want to run this company as president [one day],” he says. “I have a lot to learn, I know I have a long way to go … but I am up for the challenge.”