Last updated: June 28, 2012 4:58 pm
Stephen Khan brings business acumen to Alberta's advanced education ministry
EDMONTON (CUP) — After being in office less than two months, Alberta’s new Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education already has big plans for the province.
Stephen Khan, sworn in just one week after the April 23 provincial election, is embracing the challenges of his first political appointment and laying the groundwork for big changes.
“I’ve been in politics since April 23, so I’m new in many respects. Being new has some advantages — I’m looking at things through a fresh pair of eyes,” Khan said.
“It was a tremendous honour to be asked by the Premier to lead the portfolio, and in the short period of time that I’ve been able to sink my teeth into the portfolio, what I’ve found is we have a remarkable team in Advanced Education and Enterprise.”
Khan’s first goal is to connect with the province’s stakeholders, including student leaders.
“University students are a big component of our portfolio. They are enormous stakeholders all across Alberta,” Khan said.
“One of my early goals is to get out and meet with student leaders, and have a dialogue about what student concerns are, and let the students know the Government of Alberta is willing and wanting to work with them and listen to them and be responsive to their needs.”
Although Khan has not yet arranged a formal meeting with student bodies in Alberta, he says he is already aware of some of the issues facing them, such as tuition increases and mandatory non-instructional fees.
“I can remember being a student. We all share the concerns students have, that those non-instructional fees need to be for real, tangible things that students are receiving a benefit from,” he said.
“I’ve been bumping into students from post secondaries all across the province ... and it’s really exciting to meet them and hear from them and see what a talented bunch of young people we’re producing.”
As a family man and a past businessman, Khan plans to bring aspects of both into the Enterprise and Advanced Education portfolio, drawing on his personal experiences to make a difference in the political realm.
“It’s a collection of your life experiences that you bring to the table. And, you know, roll up the sleeves and do some hard work, and surround yourself with great and talented people — including my beautiful wife,” he said with laugh.
“When you do those kinds of things, good things happen.”
Khan managed a business in St. Albert for more than 20 years, which he sold three years ago before becoming a community representative for the city.
The business, a family company, was a software development company which Khan nurtured from a small business until he had established a wide North American presence.
“I intend to run our ministry very much like I ran my business, which was listening to all of our stakeholders, listening to the people who work within the department, listening to our leaders of industry ... and you know, making sure our visions are aligned,” he said.
“It’s very important to me that we’re moving forward in unison, with a unified vision of what’s best for the province.”