Q&A: The Jeff Fielding you never knew
Who loves pasta, cranks Adele and would love to catch a gnarly wave atop a rad surfboard? The Jeff Fielding you never knew. That’s who.
We asked the outgoing city manager a few fun – and a few serious – questions about Jeff Fielding the man. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love gardening. I love flowers. It’s something I love to go back and see day after day the growth of a flower or a plant. I find it disconnects from everything that I’ve been doing throughout the day and lets me chill out.
2. If there was a Jeff Fielding movie made, who would you cast to play Jeff Fielding?
Christian Bale. In American Hustle he had no hair. He had a big ponch. And I thought, that’s a perfect person for me.
3. On that vein, what is your favourite movie of all time?
A Room With a View. If you can imagine that. It was a movie that was set in Italy. I love Italy and it set me on a course to say that’s a place I want to visit.
4. If it’s do or die karaoke, what’s your go-to song?
I Won’t Back Down. A little Tom Petty.
5. If a life in civic service hadn’t panned out, what do you think you would have done for a living?
I think I would have been a photographer. I really love the creative aspect of taking pictures and I’m really looking forward to the future and having my own equipment. At one point in time that would have been a darkroom. Not any more so it’s a lot easier for me to pursue that dream. Editor note: Fielding’s office has an entire wall dedicated to family photos he’s taken as well as family trips to the mountains and Europe.
6. Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Sophia Loren would have probably been the one when I was a young boy. Probably because my father thought the same thing.
7. What’s playing in your iPod right now?
Adele. I love her voice. She brings me to tears in some of those songs. Her voice is just so magnificent.
8. What’s the first concert you ever saw?
The Guess Who. It was in Kitchener. They were at the top of their back in those days. American Woman was the Number 1 song. It’s just so vivid in my memory. Number 1 band in the world at that time.
9. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Internet research. I just can’t stand that we depend on, what I think are common practices, by looking at what other people are doing and think that’s our research instead of doing our own individual research. That’s something that I really push back hard against.
10. What is your perfect meal?
I guess I’m a pasta guy, going back to my Italy roots. Any type of pasta. Penne pasta with any type of sauce works for me.
11. What is your dream vehicle?
I guess I really don’t have a dream vehicle. I guess it would be a BMW M3 if I had to make a choice.
12. What’s your favourite vacation destination?
I mentioned to you Italy. I’m very fortunate my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren live in London so we’re in London quite a bit and from London we can travel. And I do like France and certainly Italy is a prime destination. Are you sensing a theme here?
13. If you could sit down for dinner with any person (alive or dead) who would you choose?
David Johnston. He was the governor general but he was someone that I got to know when I was in Kitchener. An incredible person. I learned so much from him by watching him. He was the president of the university at the time. He was here not that long ago where I got to introduce him at an event and it was great touching base with him again.
14. What is your favourite sport?
It’s cycling right now. I used to play hockey and football and all those other things, but I’ve really learned to enjoy cycling. It’s something I can do on my own. I don’t have to have a reservation or a tee time or any of those other things. I can do it after work.
15. What’s something you’ve never done but would love to try?
Surfing. I love the beach and I’d love to try surfing. It looks so cool.
16. What would you consider your greatest accomplishment as Calgary City Manager?
The things that we did as a corporation with all of the team involved around our culture and our behaviour. We started that five years ago and I can say within the last 18 months we’ve really had to test what we believed in. Did we believe in those set of values? Did we believe in the behaviours we were standing behind? And it’s served us well during the MeToo movement. I’ve referenced this many, many times, that movement is not just about gender. It’s about respect in the workplace and what it means to work together in a respectful workplace. I think we did a lot of good work in that area.
17. What will you miss most about Calgary?
This is my home, in some respects. This is my love. I love this city. I love the mountains. I love this province. Everything about the West, is embodied here in Alberta. I to see the blue skies with the mountains in the background.
18. How would you describe Calgary to your new colleagues in Toronto?
The best kept secret in Canada – maybe North America. It is amazing the number of people I know in Ontario that have never been to Calgary and how impressed they are when they do come to visit.
19. What is the biggest challenge that exists for the person who will replace you?
We’re still recovering from this economic downturn. The unpredictability of that, I think, is the biggest challenge and what the impact is on the corporation in terms of its bottom line.
20. What words of advice would you give to your successor?
It comes from my mother-in-law. She said: ‘It came to pass, but not to stay.’ It’s one of the things I’ve had to learn. The sun comes up the next day. There are times when things are rough and tough but there will always be another day and you can work through it.