Janice Stein, Founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and the opening speaker for the 2022 Making Waves Online Learning Event put on by CHPTA & COPA, offered attendees on January 13th, insight into major factors that will impact the Canadian economy and public policy over the next few years with a particular focus on the role the U.S. will play.
The key issues that Ms. Stein addresses during her interactive talk included first of all the COVID pandemic and the impact on businesses and the Canadian health system it is having. Some big decisions are awaiting politicians and governments across Canada on where and how much investment will be made in order to improve health care results.
The focus of the presentation then shifted towards a discussion on the U.S. and the deepening political polarization that is taking place down south and the problems and threats it poses for Canada. Areas of concern covered included “Buy & Made in the U.S.A.” policies but protections too for Canadian businesses, Canadian trade lobbying efforts, the new NAFTA deal, and how there will be increasing competition for Canadian businesses.
We have entered into a new era of “protectionism” (and not only in the U.S.). Canada needs to look at ways to continue to diversify its economy and expand trade with other parts of the world. Canada’s economy is still highly dependent and vulnerable to trade with the U.S. (70% of Canada’s exports are to the U.S.). This is also going to require more government intervention and huge decisions on where to invest in the economy and particular industry sectors.
Due to the COVID pandemic and the Supply Chain Crisis, many governments, including Canada’s, have been getting involved in procuring items and setting up domestic manufacturing for certain products like PPE materials or the vital tech/communication sector which has national security implications.
Ms. Stein also discussed the need to address climate change and the move towards clean energy. New technology like electric cars will have a big impact over the coming years and Canada’s energy sector is now in transition. Again, important government leadership and investment decisions are going to be needed.
Another important area for Canada to continue to focus on is attracting talent. The U.S. political unrest during the Trump administration was actually a boost for attracting top tech sector talent from across the world to Canada. Canadian governments must make it easy for these type of talent individuals to be able to move and settle into Canada.
Finally, Ms. Stein quickly touched upon U.S. – China relations and the impact that is and will have for Canada. She said this subject could take another 45 minutes to cover so she mentioned that she will have to come back and present again on that topic! We will try to arrange that.
“Making Waves” then continued on January 18th with a presentation by retail industry expert Liza Amlani who provided her thoughts on supply chain and the changing role of sourcing partners as well as use of technology to get a deeper understanding of consumers and improve speed to market and product delivery results.
The presentation started off with some comments on physical retail which remains, and will remain, a factor according to Liza, however, retailers need to continue to evolve to best service their customers. Many retailers, including Amazon, continue to invest in bricks & mortar stores.
The talk then focused on the use of digital tools and customer data in order to better understand your consumers as well as simplify and quicken product supply and delivery. Improved efficiencies and profit can be gained by better inventory management. Digital technology is creating more opportunities to engage and gain insights about your consumers for better planning and product development.
The last part of the discussion addressed supply chain and trying to reduce risks. This involved looking into expanding product sourcing partners and diversification. Again, through digital technology, a better understanding of your consumers can allow you to plan closer to the season, improve product assortments and avoid excess inventory situations. Aligning your company and products with your consumer ideals is vital which could impact where you source product as well. Delivering product in a sustainable way and reducing your carbon footprint will be increasingly important.
You can find Liza on all social platforms under the @theMerchantLife and follow her on LinkedIn or RetailWire for her POV on all things retail from a retail insider.
In the A.M., Ramy Nassar, author, teacher and founder of the 1000 Days Out company, discussed the use of “Strategic Foresight” to better plan for the future and ensure that your business can remain successful. Companies need to be resilient and adaptable to changes in the marketplace and identify trends and opportunities to innovate. Mr. Nassar’s interactive session involved using the “Janus Cones” and “Rapid Foresight Canvas” approaches to help strategize for the future.
In the afternoon, Ian Evans (President & CEO), Corey Evans (Business Development Associate) and Simmer Principio (Cyber Security Analyst) from E-Tech, a Canadian IT consulting company, covered the important topic of “Cyber Security Awareness”. This presentation reviewed examples of some of the high-profile data breaches that have taken place over the past few years highlighting how “it’s not a matter of if, but when your company will be breached.” The “Dark Web” was explained and why the bad guys are after your personal data. The different types of cyber-attacks were examined and helpful tips on what to do to avoid getting breached were offered. It is vital to educate and empower your employees to keep them and your business protected. Cyber security awareness training for employees is one of the services that E-Tech offers and as the newest CHPTA/COPA affiliate program partner, a special discount is available for members to take advantage of. Please reach out to email@example.com for all the details.
Then on January 25th, Dr. Barbara Larson, Executive Professor of Management at Northeastern University in Boston addressed the future of work structure and ideas and best practices that participants can take back to their own companies. As we move out of the COVID-pandemic crisis (hopefully!) and into a new normal-endemic phase, a mindset shift has taken place towards a more balanced approach. The office is no longer the ‘baseline’ condition of work. Companies will need to re-visit their policies and assumptions for their employees and work structure. Ms. Larson’s presentation reviewed options for bringing employees back to the office and what to do with office space. As well, she discussed how to connect employees with each other in work from home and hybrid work settings and finally some ideas on how to establish sustainable work/life balance for employees.
THANK YOU TO OUR FANTASTIC SPONSORS
Once again, we would like to thank all the speakers for their time in talking to our members and the expertise and insights they have been able to pass on.
Making Waves is being held in collaboration with