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‘Be Curious, Try New Things and Ask A Lot of Questions’: Advice from Alumnus Ken Hartwick

June 3, 2019

CEO of Ontario Power Generation offers tips to new grads

Ken Hartwick, president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation (OPG)

Ken Hartwick has myriad Trent University connections: He earned a degree in Business Administration, comes from a family with three generations of Trent experience and is a former Board of Governors member.

Since February, Mr. Hartwick has been serving as the president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and it’s fair to say that his career success is closely tied to the University.

“Trent helped build a sense of confidence,” Mr. Hartwick says. “When you get to talk to faculty throughout your four years of education, you get used to talking to senior people very quickly. You get to pick up plenty of technical knowledge – in my case business knowledge – but the development of that sense of confidence carries through a person’s work career.”

Mr. Hartwick joined OPG in 2016 as chief financial officer (CFO) and senior vice president - Finance, where he led all operations under Finance, Business Development, Strategy, and Risk. In this role, he led the launch of Canada’s first utility green bond as well as OPG’s expansion to the U.S. through the acquisition of Eagle Creek Renewable Energy LLC.

Mr. Hartwick joined OPG from Wellspring Financial Corporation, where he was CFO and treasurer. He was also interim president and CEO at Atlantic Power Corporation, a generating company that does business in Canada and the U.S. For ten years prior, he was the president and CEO of Just Energy Corporation, a Canadian-based energy retailer. In addition, he held the position of CFO at Hydro One from 2001 to 2004. He also held senior positions at Cap Gemini and was a partner at the accounting firm Ernst and Young.

A Long and Storied Connection to Trent
Mr. Hartwick’s mother Shirley worked at Trent from 1968 to 1992, first as assistant to founding athletic director PSB Wilson and then in the President’s Office. Both of his brothers attended and graduated from Trent: older brother, Darrell ’75, graduated with an Honours B.Sc., while younger brother, Reginald ‘84, graduated with an Honours B.A. as well as a B.Ed. from the Queens-Trent Education program. His sister, Cathy, followed in Shirley’s footsteps, working first at the library, then moving on to the financial aid office.

Keeping the tradition alive, Mr. Hartwick’s daughter, Brooke attended Trent. Her experience was also transformative. After transferring to Trent during her undergraduate degree, she was struck by the bonds formed between educators and student

“After about a week at Trent, she walked into class, and one of her professors called her by name and asked her a question, which she found very peculiar,” notes Mr. Hartwick. “Very good, but peculiar. But that was also my experience at Trent. It’s a school where you get to interact directly with professors on a much more frequent and detailed level. I think that’s a very unique thing. And I think that’s true across virtually every program at Trent. The interaction between academics and students is much closer.”

Advice to New Grads
His advice to students and new grads?

“We need to recognize that what we do – and who we work with – needs to have a broader purpose. Financial rewards can be good, but it is important to find your purpose first. The second thing is to be incredibly curious. Try new things: different roles, different jobs. Ask a lot of questions and participate more in whatever you do – whether that’s working for a not-for-profit or an agency or a business. Young people that are really curious just seem to do better. Those that tend to struggle more. Being curious is a major driver to success.”