Staying Connected

Saskatchewan Polytechnic alum Steve McLellan reflects on his 43-year career in hospitality, tourism and business development.


After 14 years as CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Steve McLellan is retiring and riding off into the proverbial sunset. In Steve’s case, this means spending more time fishing, travelling, seeing old friends and revisiting favourite places. It also means more time for his volunteer commitments, in particular, the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

Steve’s ties to Sask Polytech run deep. “I enrolled in the Hotel Administration diploma program in 1977, right out of high school. Sask Polytech was my first experience living away from home—it was a transitional point in my life, my coming of age,” Steve says.

Steve chose Hotel Administration because he was interested in the hospitality industry. “I’ve always had a genuine interest in people, which is something I think you need to have to be successful in the industry,” he says. “I had amazing instructors, and one of the things they taught was how to provide service without becoming a servant—that’s a lesson that stands out to this day.”

Steve’s early training in “customer service” provided foundational lessons in communication, problem-solving and relationship building. Forty years later, these are among the top “soft skills” employers look for when recruiting today.

“At the time, many of the skills I learned were specific to the hospitality sector. I liked that they were tangible and I could apply them at work. I became more appreciative of the broader skills I learned at Sask Polytech over time, because I saw how they had prepared me for other roles,” Steve says.

Sask Polytech was Steve’s springboard into a career that has spanned over four decades and various jobs in different sectors. Early on, he worked as a fly-in fishing camp inspector, restaurant server and maître d’. For most of the 1980s, he was manager and partner of the Moose Head Inn at Kenosee Lake.

After a decade in hospitality, Steve went to work for the Tourism Industry Association of Saskatchewan (TISASK), the precursor to Tourism Saskatchewan. He rose to the position of executive director, leaving in 1997 to become executive director of Tourism Regina. In 2007, he shifted his career focus once more when he became CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.

“I felt it was time for a change,” Steve says of his move to the Chamber. “I had spent most of my career in hospitality and tourism, and this was a chance to broaden my focus.”

The Chamber is the voice of Saskatchewan business. As CEO, Steve was responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, strategic planning and reporting to the Board. He was also the face of the Chamber, representing member interests on various organizations and in the media.

In addition to his nine-to-five responsibilities, Steve served on various local, provincial and national boards through the years, and was elected as chair on many of them. He is a recipient of the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. He also received Sask Polytech’s Alumni Partnership Award in 2015 for being an advocate, ambassador and partner and for extending the reach of Sask Polytech into the business community province-wide.

“My support and enthusiasm for Sask Polytech hasn’t changed; it’s always been there,” Steve says. “I always encourage Sask Polytech alumni, however recent or far back, to reconnect with old classmates. Reach out to instructors or get in touch with program heads to see if there’s anything you can do. Maybe it’s participating in a class presentation, maybe it’s asking if your company has a matching donor program.”

Steve sums it up with a twist on the old JFK quote, “ask not what your college can do for you, but what you can do for your college.”

February 2022



Saskatchewan Polytechnic serves students through applied learning opportunities on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 Territories and the homeland of the Métis.