A top class of Smart 50 winners

Every year when I see our class of Smart 50 honorees, I think, “This one is definitely the best.” This year was no different.

These top executives run some of the 50 smartest companies in the region. But what’s special this year was the diversity of the class. And by diversity, I don’t just mean gender or race.

There was a strong mix of industries, including some from Western Pennsylvania specialties — oil and gas, artificial intelligence — and a range of company sizes from startups and small businesses to large corporations. We’re also honoring five nonprofits and two business accelerators/economic development incubators. You can learn more about them by click here.

I encourage you to register today for the Smart 50 event on Thursday, Nov. 29. It’s a great place to network — you’ll see familiar faces and make some new connections.

I’m always so impressed with the passion and drive of these executives, and I’m sure you will be too, as you read about them and meet them. While this year’s judging day — where we hear directly from many of the winners who compete for three specialty awards — was after our print deadline, I want to leave you with a few comments from last year’s judges:

It was so impressive. I love to hear directly from the CEO or the president — to hear the story behind the success, to hear and feel the passion they have for the growth of their business.

I think it’s great to see a mix of people — different ages, different kinds of companies, men and women. I think it’s exciting to see the top talent that we have here in Pittsburgh.

We’ve seen everybody from CEOs to presidents to maybe some of their admin people who are filling in for them, but one thing that’s a common thread across the whole thing was just the energy that everybody gave off.

You come to something like this and you think, ‘Well, I’m going to meet a lot of great people.’ But the sky was the limit today. Some of these companies, I didn’t know they existed, and you come down and you meet some of these people and you think, ‘I’m in a good spot here in Western Pennsylvania.’