49 Years Old
Class of 2020
“I would like to be remembered as the leader that didn’t give up on the airport, on my team and their achievements, and on the community that we serve. Wood Buffalo is comprised of people who never give up – and I am proud to say that I am one of them.”
– RJ Steenstra when asked what people will say about his impact on the community some day.
Aviation is in RJ Steenstra’s blood. The son of a captain who flew with a major Canadian carrier, RJ accompanied his father on many journeys by air. Just seeing an airplane cultivated a sense of adventure and discovery in him.
“I have always loved to watch airplanes coming and going to and from the airport – daydreaming about where they are going or where they are coming from,” RJ shares. “I have spent hours and hours doing this.”
It’s this passion that led him to pursue and grow a career in aviation. As President and CEO of Fort McMurray International Airport, the father of two is inspired by his team, seeing them develop and grow as they achieve their personal goals, and the goals of the airport corporation.
“It has been a challenging four years here at YMM having come through a market downturn, fire recovery, cyber attack, flood and now the pandemic, however my team inspires me everyday with the way they continue to conduct themselves with integrity, credibility, professionalism and commitment to act,” he says. “Being recognized as the best regional airport in North America last year for customer experience and most recently, being the first airport in Western Canada to achieve a global health accreditation, was accomplished through consistent proactive actions of everyone that works at YMM. The culture at YMM is one that truly reflects and respects the principles of empowerment, continuous learning, and collaboration.”
As a CEO, RJ believes that the greatest measure of success is developing leaders in the organization who make their own mark on the industry and in the community. For him personally, success is defined by the types goals he sets-out to accomplish, and how he accomplishes them.
“Short-cutting a goal just to complete it is the same as failing,” The true reward of achieving something comes from the learning journey one experiences along the way, RJ says.
When reflecting on what 2020 has taught him, RJ shares that there are so many things in business and in life that are not within our control or influence.
“To continue to succeed you need to be able to work in ambiguity and uncertainty, but at the same time not lose sight of both your personal and professional goals and values,” he says.