Get to know Propel's new CEO, Barry Bisson

In October, we welcomed Barry Bisson as our CEO.

Barry joins Propel after 12 years as the President of SHAD Valley International and after 1 very relaxed year of the retirement.

In this post, we get to know Barry through some Q&A.

Why did you decide to give up retirement to join Propel?

I had this wonderful year of refreshment and recharging, where I woke up in the morning with no responsibility and accountability other than to my wife. It was invigorating. However, when my wife and I came back to PEI after an extended Florida winter vacation, I felt there was something missing.

I had all this experience from my career, an extensive network all over Canada and the US, and all this education lying dormant just because I’m in my 60s. It didn’t make sense to me that this intellectual capital was going to waste, especially when we consider the challenges our region is facing growing our economy.

So, I started to feel guilty that apart from spending more quality time with family, all I was doing was golfing and cleaning the garage.

Throughout my career I have had so many people go to bat for me and help me. I’ve had so much privilege and opportunity in my career and now I have an obligation to step up and help fight this perfect storm in Atlantic Canada: a struggling economy, aging population, outward migration, and government fiscal challenges at a time when interest rates are on the rise. Why shouldn’t I step up and try to be a member of the army that is tackling these challenges?

I’ll admit that I was hesitant about taking on a full time role after my year off, but joining Propel maps perfectly to my interests, passion, capabilities and experience.


How have the first few weeks been?

The first few weeks have been exhilarating. I’m visiting all provinces and cities where Propel operates to meet our partners, our alumni and individuals who have an interest in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada. Already I am hearing all kinds of ideas and opportunity for our organization to flourish and grow, and have even greater impact.

I’m extremely optimistic about what’s ahead. I’ve got my mojo back. It’s safe to say I’m not a golfer any more!

Tell us a little about yourself...

I grew up on the Gaspé in Quebec. I have a lovely wife and 3 daughters and six incredible grandchildren. Growing up in Quebec, I was a very passionate hockey fan since I was a little boy (a die hard Montreal fan to be exact). My #1 dream was to be a professional hockey player.

Unfortunately, I did not succeed. But, thankfully two of my daughters married into in my interests. I now get to live my pro-hockey dreams through 2 of my sons-in-law. (Note: Barry refused to cheer for the Toronto Maple Leafs, one son’s team, when they played his beloved Canadiens).  And my third daughter married one of my UNB Engineering students.  I am so fortunate that my daughters did everything possible to make their Dad proud.