8. Jessica McDonald

President & CEO, BC Hydro

08-jessica-mcdonald-2000x3000Age: 46 | 2014: #22British Columbians who depend on BC Hydro for electricity don’t have to look far for reasons to resent the massive utility: ongoing rate increases, smart meters, and mega infrastructure projects such as the Site C dam. But CEO Jessica McDonald knows something about being on the hot seat, having been deputy minister to Premier Gordon Campbell from 2005 to 2009. Nor is she a stranger to running big, unwieldy organizations—she was also head of the province’s 30,000-plus-strong public service.An expert mediator, she’ll find her political background useful as she seeks to appease Hydro’s many stakeholders. The Crown corporation’s mandate—to supply “reliable power, at low cost, for generations”—is complex and daunting; climate change, the empowered First Nations, and acts of God make it even more so. Like her predecessors—Marc Eliesen, Dave Cobb, Charles Reid—she’s discovered that running a $5-billion utility with 5,500 employees is a Herculean task for which you get faint praise and abundant criticism.

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