Frequently skipping school to play billiards, Douglas Gray was punted from the University of Calgary, lived out of his car and was fed by local food banks – “appropriately spanked by society” because of what he calls “self-inflicted hardships.” Since then, he has expressed gratitude to the community programs that helped get his life back on track through his good karmaminded IT company.
The goodwill flows mightily at Graycon, a network infrastructure solution company that annually gives more than 1,000 hours of paid employee time back to the community and donates more than 10 per cent of its profits to local charities. “It just feels like the right thing to do,” says Gray, who started Graycon in 1989 and now has 135 employees, with locations in Saskatoon, Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary.
Sporting a “G” company logo tattoo on his leg, Gray has created a unique corporate universe: employees are called Grayconians, boardrooms are named after constellations and a big karma gong is regularly struck for employees’ work achievements. “My mom told me when I was young that I always said, ‘I’ll never wear a tie and I’ll never sit in a regular office,’ ” says Gray, who rapidly fires out the words.
The spiritual self-help book Buddha: 9 to 5 sits on the table in front of Gray. While he doesn’t call himself a Buddhist, he strives to integrate many of its philosophies, meditating each morning. Travel, spirituality, a good bottle of wine and, of course, gaming with his 17-year-old son, Cortland, helps keep Gray centred and his life balanced in the fast-paced, demanding world of IT.
External relations committee, Telus World of Science
Royal trio interview judge, Calgary Stampede
Volunteer, Habitat for Humanity
Capital campaign member, STARS Air Ambulance
Volunteer, Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre
Volunteer, The Mustard Seed
Volunteer, Calgary Food Bank