It is not typical to see the highest-ranking executive of Canada’s largest oil pipeline company toiling under the hot Costa Rican sun. It is not typical that such a man would be wearing rubber boots, using hand tools to install a solar panel for a family that had never before had electricity in its home, never flicked on a light switch. But Pat Daniel, ’68 BSc(ChemEng), ’10 LLD (Honorary), former chief executive officer of Enbridge, isn’t exactly typical.
Daniel is a rare kind of leader who can take a multibillion-dollar company and quadruple it in size, which he did while at the helm of Enbridge between 2001 and 2012. But he is also known for his philanthropy. In December 2008, he started a foundation within the firm called energy4everyone, an international initiative to bring affordable electricity to underprivileged families in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Daniel did more than launch the foundation. Many of Enbridge’s top executives were placed on the foundation’s board of directors, and Daniel’s hands-on approach included installing light bulbs, solar panels and battery chargers. “He believed it was the people at the centre of the company who needed to be on the ground doing the work,” says Joanne Gardner, executive director of energy4everyone.
When Daniel took over as CEO in 2001, Enbridge was a relatively small company in the pipeline and infrastructure market. Today, it is Canada’s largest transporter of crude oil, with a network of pipelines stretching more than 24,000 kilometres and transporting roughly 65 per cent of western Canadian crude oil. During his tenure as CEO, Enbridge’s total market value increased more than fourfold, from $6.8 billion to $30.1 billion.
The fact that Daniel led a company the size of Enbridge for 11 years is, in itself, an exceptional achievement. Rarely does a top-level executive in the oil and gas sector retain power for long. Oftentimes the industry’s most influential leaders are forced to change companies, to merge with other firms or to step down — sometimes in dramatic fashion.
Daniel always made a point of having boots on the ground. When the company’s Line 6B pipeline ruptured in July 2010 near Kalamazoo River, Mich., the company faced intense public backlash. But Daniel was on a plane that afternoon to meet with residents and government officials in order to facilitate the cleanup.
Today, Enbridge is among the industry’s largest investors in alternative energies. Daniel is a rare leader who was able to see both the necessity of conventional energy now, and where the industry needs to be years down the road.