Get to know TRC’s VP of Organizational Excellence, Josh Bowen
Join us in welcoming the newest addition to our executive leadership team, Team Rubicon Canada (TRC) Vice President of Organizational Excellence, Josh Bowen.
A Canadian Army veteran, Josh comes to TRC from the Canadian Red Cross where he served as the Senior Director, Emergency Planning. He brings with him wide-ranging experience in crisis and emergency management, a people-focused leadership style, and, as he would tell you, a deep love of dad jokes. As VP of Organizational Excellence, Josh is tasked with leading TRC’s People Operations, Finance, and Technology teams to enable our Greyshirts to serve communities in need.
We’re excited for the future of the organization with Josh joining us and what we can accomplish together.
Learn more about Josh:
I grew up in Ottawa, Ontario and the Ottawa Valley. I spent a lot of time outdoors, canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park, hiking in the Gatineau Hills, and playing and coaching soccer. At home, we were always aware of what was going on around the world and there were frequent discussions about what could be done to help those in need. Focussing on service to others was fundamental to my upbringing. Living through the 1998 ice storm was my first exposure to a major disaster, although I never thought that I would end up in the field.
After high school, I went to Algonquin College for Police Foundations and upon graduating, joined the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves and moved to Toronto to pursue a degree at the University of Toronto. In my first year, I enrolled into the Regular Officer Training Program as an Infantry Officer, continuing to train with my Reserve unit, the Royal Regiment of Canada. During a weekend training exercise, there was a significant snowstorm and power outage in the community we were training in, and we pivoted from simulated domestic operations to providing real-time support to the community; this was my first time being directly involved in a disaster response operation. I subsequently enrolled in the Master of Disaster and Emergency Management program at York University and my formal journey in the field began.
In 2010, I was posted to First Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Edmonton, Alberta, as a platoon commander. During my time at the battalion, we deployed on three disaster response operations: 2011 Manitoba flooding, 2013 Southern Alberta floods, and 2015 Northern Saskatchewan wildfires. In 2015, I was posted to 3rd Canadian Division Headquarters and worked in the planning team, focussing on CAF disaster response. I had the distinct honour of serving as the CAF liaison to Alberta during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire response (which of course holds a special place in history for Team Rubicon Canada.) For me, the opportunity to serve people in Canada during their time of need was the absolute highlight of my military career.
In 2017, I left the military and joined the emergency management faculty at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Over the next five years, I got to establish and lead NAIT’s Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency Management, run some of the largest emergency management training events in Canada, and lead NAIT’s response to COVID-19. In each of those roles, I got to work with an amazing team of curious and innovative people to solve complex problems and help grow the emergency management field. In 2022, I joined the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) as the Senior Director, Emergency Planning, where I led the team responsible for organizational readiness, hazard risk monitoring, and exercises. I had the privilege of deploying as part of the CRC response to Hurricane Fiona and drawing out lessons that changed the way the organization prepares for disasters. During my time at NAIT and the CRC, I was also able to complete a few educational milestones including attending the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative program at Harvard University, and an Executive MBA at the University of Alberta.
“My definition of a leader is, ’people choose to follow you’”
In each of these experiences, I’ve learned so much. Whether it was coaching, serving in the CAF, working and learning in academia, or in the humanitarian sector, there are a few key threads that run through it all and guide my approach to just about everything I do. First, people make the difference. People drive things forward and solve complex problems. To borrow a phrase, people are the source of everything we can achieve. Second, it is always better to work together to tackle a challenge. When a team works on solving a problem, you get different perspectives that make the options being developed better. I’m dyslexic, which means I’m able to pull together threads that seem completely unrelated. It also means that I rely on the team to make sure we don’t miss anything. In short, no one of us is as smart as all of us. Finally, I continue to learn about leading and leadership. My definition of a leader is, ‘people choose to follow you’. This means that being a leader has nothing to do with rank, and everything to do with who you are as a person. I have been truly fortunate to have mentors and guides who have been both senior and junior to me who have helped shape who I am and how I lead. There is an opportunity to learn from everyone and every situation. That excites me!
I am thrilled to be stepping into the arena with Team Rubicon Canada and for the opportunity to work with so many people who are passionate about serving others in their time of need. I’m looking forward to working with my fellow Greyshirts to continue growing the organization in a sustainable way so our veterans, first responders, and kick-ass civilians can continue to serve people in need.
Learn more about our Staff and Board of Directors https://team-rubicon.ca/team/