Close Icon

Let’s stay in touch!

From time to time we send out a colorful email packed with engaging information about the Canadian social impact sector, job opportunities, and what Realize is doing to make a meaningful, positive impact. Sign up below to be in the know.

Team Series: Meet our CEO, John Kay

We’re an eclectic bunch and that’s the way we like it. Our Team Series invites you to learn more about the unique skills and backgrounds that each team member brings to Realize and our personalized, value-add approach.




CPA, CMA, MBA, Chief Executive Officer


Strategy, Executive Search, Advisory Services to Boards


John’s career journey has taken him through the worlds of business, public service, professional politics and international non-profit governance. His diverse portfolio of work has equipped with an intimate understanding of how to bridge the for-profit and non-profit worlds of business.

Since 2012, John’s distinct entrepreneurial vision has guided Realize Strategies to become a leader in impact-driven strategy and executive search. As CEO, John has built a strong, successful collaborative team through his progressive and innovative approach to leadership. He encourages staff to focus on projects and experiences that will further develop their unique skillsets and he shows genuine enthusiasm in the areas that specifically interest each Realize team member.

The open, fluid work culture that John has created at Realize is a reflection of his strong sense of business management. In addition to understanding an organization’s mission and values, John has an innate sense for what makes a business viable and how to effectively problem-solve when challenges arise. He values innovative approaches to finding solutions and supporting impact-driven businesses to succeed at what they do.

“The nature of my career means I have wide exposure and understanding of what makes people suitable for certain roles,” he says.

John brings a nuanced understanding of how to craft and execute strategy that supports impact-driven organizations. Prior to joining Realize, he held several senior positions in the private and public sectors both in Canada and abroad, including Chief Operating Officer of the WE Group of Companies where he led a $50-million values-driven business, and as Executive Director of Corporate Development at the BC Ministry of Advanced Education. He is also an active volunteer, having Chaired the boards of Fairtrade Canada, as well as the British Columbia Co-operative Association, where he now serves as Treasurer. In addition, John held the position of both Director and Chair of the Finance Committee for Fairtrade International based in Germany from 2010-2013.

Working across these culturally diverse, multi-stakeholder environments has left John adept at navigating complex business politics while staying true to a business’ mission, a knack that lies at the heart of his motivation to support social enterprises.

“I’m very capable of talking to executives and boards because I’ve worked at that level,” he says. “I’ve been on that side of the table.”

When John isn’t creating strategic solutions, you may find him on his sailboat, navigating the deep waters of Desolation Sound.