Job Title: Smart City and Innovation manager, City of St. Albert
Why He’s Top 40: He’s working to bring innovation to the everyday urban experience.
Unexpected Hobby: “I love adventure travel – trying new things in exotic locations, such as skydiving and bungee jumping over canyons, trekking in the jungle, crabbing on the ocean and exploring mountain caves.”
Travis Peter was 23 when he started working as chief administrative officer of Milk River, Alta. He was at an age when most of his peers were still hunting for their first “real jobs.”
He managed a team of 8-20 and a budget of $2 million – and sealed his esteem for municipal government.
“You can actually touch the programs and services and people in their everyday lives,” he says.
It might have seemed like nothing could hold back his burgeoning career – but Peter knew something eventually would: A stutter, with which he’s struggled all his life.
“Leadership at a large organization is largely a function of your ability to communicate,” he explains.
He stepped down, but kept learning, pursuing further education in his field.
Now 36, married and the busy dad of two small children (he had just swept the floor of breakfast remnants before this interview at his home), Peter has found a role proving his conviction that innovative government isn’t an oxymoron.
As Smart City and Innovation manager for the City of St. Albert, and director of the Alberta Smart City Alliance, he’s helping to make cities more intuitive, planning services like intelligent transportation systems, access to real-time data on how much water you just used in the shower, and having phone chargers on park benches.
His success has helped him accept his speech impediment. In groups, he mentions it early to clear the air.
“I’ve been stuttering so long, I don’t take it personally anymore,” he says. “If I got angry every time it happened, I’d be living a pretty angry life.”
This week, incoming U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline. What should be Alberta’s response?