A bold future requires bold thinking, and that’s exactly what Onward: A Visionary Summit offers. An engaging and collaborative conference that challenges the status quo and envisions the future.
At Black Diamond Group, we know we’re living in an ever-changing world – disruption, macro-economics, end-market volatility and government policy changes impact a company’s ability to plan for growth in the future.
At the same time, innovation, government spending, and emerging markets present immense opportunity for business to capitalize on. The key is to be ready for whatever the future might hold. That is the purpose of Onward: A Visionary Summit. We know there is no crystal ball to predict the future, but we also know our network and ecosystem is full of intelligent, experienced professionals who can help guide us as we try and determine what the future might hold.
This year's, conference took place June 15-16 in Calgary, Alberta. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in a forward-looking and inspiring day with presentations and discussions curated around three key themes – The Economy, Indigenous Perspectives on Major Project Development, and Travel and Technology: Industry Trends, Big Data & AI. Setting the stage for Black Diamond’s leaders to envision the direction of the business over the next three to five years.
A macro-economic overview and analysis of geopolitical trends and risks with a five-year outlook in mind. The presentations, followed by a panel discussion covered a multitude of topics including civil & public infrastructure, education sector, energy, resource and mining industries, commodity prices, inflation, and interest rate among other key economic drivers.
Host: Toby Labrie, EVP and CFO, Black Diamond Group Moderator: Jeff Fetterly, Vice President of Investments & Analysis, Sureway Group of Companies.
Panelists: Aaron Goertzen, Financial analyst, BMO Frederic Bastien, Analyst, Raymond James Ltd, Mike Tims, Vice Chairman, MATCO Investments Ltd.
Our three panelists presented on topics unique to their fields of work, but one common theme emerged: Alberta and Canada will recover from the COVID recession, just as we have recovered from boom-and-bust cycles in the past. The panelists discussed inflation, the housing market and the rise of interest rates as factors that should inform decision-making. Noting that Canadian unemployment rates are reaching nearly 50-year lows, and that there is a lot of publicly funded construction and infrastructure planned for the next few years. New trends, like urbanization – retrofitting a pre-COVID world to fit post-COVID reality – are emerging, while other preexisting trends like investing in conflict-free energy continue to remain important.
Indigenous Perspectives on Major Project Development
A panel discussion around Indigenous perspectives on major project development. Taking a long term and macro view, the panel discussed the outlook of major projects within the Country, the regulatory environment for approvals, how Indigenous communities view participation in major projects now and in the future, and how major project development can further reconciliation within Canada.
Host: Jonathan Stringer, VP, Marketing & Community Relations, Black Diamond Group Moderator: Cheryl Bernard, CEO, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame
Panelists: Chief Roland Willson, West Moberly First Nations) Bob Merasty, Executive Director, Indigenous Resource Network and former Chief of Flying Dust First Nation Ian Anderson, former President and CEO, Trans Mountain Corporation Alfred Sorenson, CEO, Pieridae Energy Limited
From the perspectives of both Indigenous and Corporate panelists, the key ingredient to successful Indigenous partnerships on energy projects or development is seeking to understand. Active listening and encouraging Indigenous communities to voice concerns before, during and after development, will ensure that all parties are aligned. Merasty and Chief Willson spoke of past challenges, and articulated how organizations can do better, while highlighting the wonderful benefits of strong, collaborative corporate partnerships.
Sorenson and Anderson shared corporate perspectives, emphasizing the importance of thoughtful collaboration and respect during consultation with First Nations. Sorenson reminded attendees that there is no project that will erase the more than 200 years of conflict; we must instead focus on shared benefits and what Nations want and need from the projects. Anderson left attendees with the question; “How can we work toward the greater good before, during and after these projects”?
Keynote Address by Minister Doug Schweitzer
Alberta's Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation, Doug Schweitzer oversees the implementation of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, its sector strategies, and Alberta’s growth agenda. Discussion centered around how the provincial government is supporting businesses and growing the economy, with a focus on the tech and innovation sector.
Minister Schweitzer's remarks centered around the governments investment into the future of the Province. Schweitzer discussed the budget assumptions and confirmed that the Province is poised to recover well. As the government sees revenue rise, it will continue to focus on paying down debts. The Minister shared that the secret to success in Alberta is to build on the province’s strengths, like hydrogen, petrochemicals and natural gas, but also to invest in renewable energy, and other industries. For example, he revealed that Amazon Web Services recently invested $4 billion into Alberta, the film industry has been active in the province, and we have an opportunity to support agriculture and tourism, growing confidence in our province.
Travel & Technology: Industry Trends, Big Data & AI
An engaging panel discussion regarding the travel and travel technology industries, Big Data, AI, machine learning and other innovations and disruptors.
Host: Trevor Haynes, Chairman & CEO, Black Diamond Group Moderator: Adam Legge, President, Business Council of Alberta
Panelists: Hugh Dunleavy, 20-year veteran of the airline industry Jil Macdonald, Vice President, Business Development and Client Success, AltaML Leilani Latimer, Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer, Fair Trade USA Sam Hayes, General Manager of the Analytics Business, Suncor Energy
Our panelists delved into the inner workings of AI, big data and workforce travel to educate attendees on the connections between them. Although highly technical, the decision to use AI and big data should be a business strategy, rather than a technology strategy. Whether we know it or not, we interact with AI and big data every day. As a result, any AI strategy should focus on helping companies make smarter business decisions that benefit both the brand, values and business direction, while improving the customer experience. By focusing on solving problems and developing a minimum viable product, companies can successfully employ AI.
From a workforce travel perspective, panelists all asserted that travel companies can improve customer satisfaction by focusing on soft attributes – how customers feel, how they receive their information, etc. – and gauging customer readiness by examining success in adjacent businesses and industries.