Public Affairs Executive of the Year: Alan Boras

Alan Boras
Photograph John Gaucher

Journalists like telling a good story, and Alan Boras routinely gives them an excellent tale to tell about one of the oil patch’s rising stars, Seven Generations Energy. The company is inseparable from the 7G team and the man at its helm, Pat Carlson, who rarely thinks inside any box. Throughout 2016, this intermediate gas player has pivoted towards LNG and power generation partnerships, and is looking to build a new petrochemicals hub near the firm’s Montney shale play.

Boras reached out to the media in the summer of last year, gaining widespread national coverage for the company. He says the timing naturally followed the firm’s going public two years ago. “The focus of the investment community was, ‘Could we execute our ambitious plans?’ And by last summer, we’d built natural gas plants and super pads and strong relationships—a bunch of things came together.” So Boras took his proposal for a media tour of hydraulic fracturing sites, gas plants and stakeholder meetings to Carlson. “Pat’s always been very supportive of telling the story, reaching out to the media,” he says. “And inviting them on a tour amplified the audiences.”

The story isn’t only about reaching out to the news media but to partner communities as well. “We initiated engagement with [First Nations] leaders,” Boras says. “They helped us and we helped them.” Seven Generations contracted a number of aboriginal businesses on a competitive basis. “We want a project to be beneficial to the community: First Nations, Grand Prairie and other businesses.”

Hydraulic fracking can be a tough story to sell. So putting people in helicopters over well pads located in multiple-use forests, and driving them straight onto frack sites and frack operations centers is 7G’s preferred educational tool. “There’s a lot of information out there about hydraulic fracturing,” Boras says. “When we show people what we do, and our focus on safety—that anyone who’s working there can say “This isn’t safe—stop!”—and we show them that our impact on the environment and costs work in the same direction, such as burning less fuel, when they see the technology, engineering and science, they see that the people who work there are just like them. Our staff cares a great deal about the environment too.”

The story he tells, of course, starts underground. “The Montney is a tremendous resource. The NEB says it’s half the size of the oil sands. It’s a young industry. These are early days and we’re looking to find new markets. It’s another step in Canada’s development of resources —timber, mining, fur, oil, gas… Natural gas can replace coal. It can be paired up with renewables, filling the gap when there’s no wind or sun—it works in synergy.”

Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” When Carlson hired Boras he hired a man who wants to tell a story, and so far, 7G looks like the story that Boras could keep telling. The company plans to invest up to $1.6 billion in 2017, to boost output by 50 percent from 2016 production levels. 7G is building its third natural gas processing plant at the north end of the Kakwa field.

Further into the future, it is working with the municipality of Grande Prairie to study the potential of power generation and petrochemical developments in the area. “The region has tremendous potential,” Boras says. “It’s attractive to the community, provides jobs and holds the potential to be a major energy processing hub. It’s on top of the resource, has rail links, is at the intersection of two transmission pipelines and can map a path to the West Coast and Pacific markets. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit.” And if this industrial cluster rises, fueled in part by 7G feedstock, Boras will hopefully be there to tell the tale.

Getting Personal With Alan Boras

Director of communcations and stakeholder relations at Seven Generations Energy

What is the most important quality that a senior executive can have? 
Visionary and inspirational leadership focused on human benefit.

What is the least important quality that a senior executive can have?
Overemphasis on a single performance measure, which jeopardizes the need to consider and balance other vital business components.

What is your greatest fear?
Publishing an error or missing a deadline.

Which living person do you admire most? 
I’m not prone to idolization, but I would enjoy dinner with Barack Obama, or a game of shinny with Wayne Gretzky.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Tools, gadgets, my new full frame Nikon D750 camera and lens.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To have the discipline to get in shape so that I can keep up with my wife on a hike.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Did I ever tell you about my 50-goal season in midget hockey?

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