Developing Urban Leaders

Ryan Hamilton found his way into the development industry by quietly observing his dad as a kid.  

“My dad is a master electrician,” he said. “I would see him fixing wiring and lighting, solving problems daily. He had an affinity to understand how things work.” 

While he enjoyed soccer, adventuring in the mountains, skiing, and mountain biking, Ryan said he was not good enough to do any of those professionally. 

“So, I had to find a real job,” he joked. “I was working as a summer labourer at Jatec Electric, working in the trenches – that’s where I discovered my passion for engineering.” 

He would later graduate from the University of Alberta with a NanoEngineering degree. 

“I found nanoengineering very fascinating as it really is all about innovation – but it also is highly theoretical,” he reflected. “I decided at that time that I didn’t want a career in NanoEngineering because I wanted to work on practical projects that are more tangible in the present.” 

Despite the change in focus, that aspiration towards technological advancement is something Ryan brings to his work in real estate development, as the VP of Greater Land Development for DES Engineering. 

“Technology, especially in power and gas is constantly changing, so we need to be thinking through new ways to adapt,” he said. “For as long as I have been doing this work, we have used the same cables, the same transformers, the same installation methods – we need to see things done in more efficient and forward-thinking ways.” 

Ryan has led a team for over a decade, developing and deliver on land development projects across Alberta – whether residential, commercial, or industrial. 

When asked about how the industry has changed, and where improvements can be made, Ryan said, “I’m still learning each and every day.” 

“I was fortunate to have an advanced glimpse into urban development through my dad. From him, I learned that this industry is all about continuous improvement. That we are always coming up with new solutions to novel problems.” 

He said that ultimately the industry needs to continue to support building communities where people can live and lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. 

“I dream bigger than just power,” he said. “We need to look after people, and that means designing and planning for people, so that every individual has the opportunity to thrive. Communities, culture, and wellbeing start with the individual.” 

When asked what it means to be the first recipient of the Emerging Leader Award, Ryan noted that it is a testament to the industry opening its doors to those starting out in the profession.  

“Working alongside other dedicated volunteers has also made the experience genuinely fun,” Ryan added. 

As the Chair of YourDI, an initiative of UDI – Edmonton Metro, Ryan supports early to mid-career professionals with mentorship, networking, and education in the industry. 

“Our industry is becoming more open to new people, new ideas, and new perspectives,” he said. “And YourDI is helping to bring people together, to build relationships, and to cultivate the next generation of urban development leaders.” 

“It is an exciting time to be part of this community of city builders.” 

Come celebrate the achievement of Ryan Hamilton at the 24th Annual Spirit Awards.