On the last page of every issue of Industry West, we find a Saskatchewan businessperson or leader to answer our version of the Proust Questionnaire. Marcel Proust made the questionnaire famous, believing that 35 specific questions could reveal a person’s true nature. We grabbed this idea—you’ve probably seen it in Vanity Fair—and made our own version. The first five questions are ours, and then we ask our subject to pick their favourite Proust questions to answer.
Meet John Desjarlais, General Manager at Great Plains Contracting.
Where are you from?
Where did you attend school and what did you study?
WARNING! NERD Alert. Secondary – Charlebois School in Cumberland House. Post Secondary – Northlands College (SIAST-Sask Polytechnic) Certificate in Radiation and Environmental Monitoring, University of Saskatchewan – BSc in Mechanical Engineering, MBA, and currently a candidate for master’s degree in Governance and Entrepreneurship in Northern and Indigenous areas.
What is your career history?
Diverse, exciting, and progressive. I started in safety and environmental sciences with Cameco and progressed through opportunities which led me to a senior engineering management role. Concurrently, I was working in community, in a variety of roles, one which led me to my current appointment as VP for APEGS, Saskatchewan’s engineering and geoscience regulator. After Cameco, I pursued more community related opportunities and worked in economic development as a CEO. My career has brought me to an exciting point in my life where I can integrate my experience into my current role as General Manager for Great Plains Contracting, an Indigenous Industrial Contracting and Construction Company.
What’s the best piece of business or career advice you have or have been given?
People are the instrumentality to action. If you desire progress, and to move forward then understand what motivates, inspires, and constrains people. Enable and empower people to be their best selves, and action will follow.
What’s your favourite thing about Saskatchewan?
Once you think you have experienced all Saskatchewan has to offer, it surprises you with the capacity for more warmth and depth in the beauty of its people and its places.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Feminism. Men who are not threatened by the female point of view, and value it.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Live Music and Sightseeing, with those I love.
When and where were you happiest?
Disneyland – Truly the happiest place on earth, and I have been to many places on earth. A close second is on a twisty highway in the mountains on my motorcycle.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Musically inclined. As a lover of music, and owner of several guitars, I still struggle to play competently.
What is your most treasured possession?
My memorabilia both music and sport. I collect signed items that were personally attained. They represent my gratitude for a life I never thought I would live and experience.