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, technology advancements, government spending, and emerging markets present immense opportunity for businesses to capitalize on.
The key is to be ready for whatever the future might hold. That is the purpose of this strategy summit; we know there is no crystal ball to predict the future, but we also know our network is full of intelligent, experienced professionals and subject-matter experts who can help guide us as we try to envision what may unfold. That’s what this conference, presented by Black Diamond Group and LodgeLink, is all about – listening, learning, ideating, envisioning, connecting, and networking.
This year, ONWARD: A Visionary Summit took place on Thursday, June 8th in Calgary, Alberta. The day was thoughtfully curated with 18 speakers and moderators sharing their insight through five unique panels and sessions, including A Powerful Conversation with the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper.
Attendees had the opportunity to participate in a forward-looking, inspiring day, and the presentations and discussions focused on three key themes – Macro-Economic Outlook, Indigenous Reconciliation & Development in Canada’s North, and Innovation, Disruption & Differentiators.
Ultimately, this day helps set the stage for Black Diamond Group’s Leaders to envision the opportunities, challenges, and direction of the Company over the next three-to-five years. This unique and intentional approach to long range planning has proven highly effective for our Company over the years.
We believe that a clear vision with measurable objectives, precise execution, disciplined accountability, and date-based decision-making leads to successful outcomes and set us apart. Our Way is to Create A Better Way and that starts with how we plan for the future. We’re proudly different, carving our own path and striving to deliver excellence in everything we do, and it was with this in mind that we created ONWARD: A Visionary Summit.
A macro-economic overview and analysis of trends, risks, and opportunities from several subject matter experts with varying points of view, with a keynote presentation followed by a robust panel discussion on a broad range of topics, including key economic drivers related to inflation and interest rates, GDP growth rates, resource development, the education sector, construction, and infrastructure activity.
Host: Toby Labrie, EVP and CFO, Black Diamond Group Moderator: Michael Tims, Vice Chairman, Matco Investments Ltd.
Panelists: Jean-François Perrault, Senior VP & Chief Economist, Scotiabank Laurie Robert, Modular Building Industry Consultant Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association
Jean-François Perrault, Senior VP & Chief Economist, Scotiabank delivered the keynote economic address for the first session of the day, followed by focused remarks from the moderator and panelists.
While each speaker and panelist had unique views, they shared consensus around the current challenges resulting from interest rate increases and the growing rate of inflation, but suggested the central banks would begin moderating and pausing interest rates increases as inflation gradually stabilizes. Panelists also spoke about the tight labour market persisting in Canada and the United States for the foreseeable future. The discussion touched on countless other economic considerations such as the geo-political landscape including the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war and mounting tensions between the United States and China, resource development trends, the housing market, the education sector, infrastructure investment and government spending, the regulatory environment and beyond.
Indigenous Reconciliation & Development in Canada’s North
A panel discussion focused on the importance of reconciliation with Indigenous communities across Canada as businesses consider investing in resource development projects and the federal government commits to accelerating infrastructure investment in Canada’s Northern region. The panel discussed the emerging global security threats and the corresponding development opportunities to secure Canada's North, commercial and public infrastructure development, and critical minerals extraction projects, as well as the imperative to respond to the economic and socio-economic needs of Canada's Indigenous populations.
Host: Jonathan Stringer, VP, WFS Operations & Indigenous Relations Moderator: Cheryl Bernard, President & CEO Canada’s Sports Hall Of Fame
Panelists: Chief Wilton Littlechild Rob Huebert, Associate Professor, Political Science, UofC Phil Von Finckenstein, Partner, Maple Leaf Strategies Titus Allooloo
This panel discussion brought together perspectives from Indigenous, government, academic and corporate subject-matter experts through targeted questions and a facilitated conversation by moderator, Cheryl Bernard, President & CEO Canada’s Sports Hall Of Fame. Bernard shared insights into the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Indigenous Sports Hero Education Experience (ISHEE), presented by Black Diamond Group, which is an impactful seven-year project that sheds light on 14 Indigenous Sports Heroes, underscoring the pivotal role of education as a crucial element in the process of reconciliation.
Panelists highlighted the interconnectivity of the broad topic of Indigenous reconciliation and development in Canada’s north discussing the vital significance of preserving Indigenous culture, shedding light on the repercussions of past assimilation policies, while noting the potential that exists for Indigenous partnerships in support of Arctic development given attitudes within northern communities have evolved to embrace projects with active participation and mutual economic benefit.
While it was emphasized that there is immense untapped potential – both in terms of securing the north and developing resources, infrastructure, and major projects – in the Arctic, challenges still exist in moving new projects forward. Insights were also shared about the need to secure the North with varying opinions on the effectiveness of government policy, and what approach businesses should take to position themselves as a meaningful partner in this regard.
A Powerful Conversation with The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
A highlight of the day was A Powerful Conversation with The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada, facilitated by Black Diamond’s Chairman & CEO, Trevor Haynes.
A highlight of the day was A Powerful Conversation with The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada, facilitated by Black Diamond’s Chairman & CEO, Trevor Haynes. The intimate armchair discussion delved into a wide range of diverse topics, emphasizing geopolitical dynamics, economic considerations, and the challenges and opportunities both Canada and the world face. This insightful conversation offered valuable insights into the complexities of these subjects and their potential impacts on Canada's economic future.
Innovation, Disruption & Differentiators
A robust panel discussion regarding disruptive technologies and their potential application to businesses and the competitive advantage, or challenges, that comes with disruption, innovation, and differentiators. Panellists shared their valuable insights on technology trends and how businesses can take advantage of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), generative pre-trained transformers (GPT) and blockchain.
Panelists: Cory Janssen, CEO & Co-Founder, Altaml Sébastien Leitner, VP Of Partnerships, Cloudbeds Maurizio Tripi, Global Head of Engineering, Simon-Kucher
This panel discussion, with a complement of global tech leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs, challenged the status quo and dove into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and what advancements in that area might mean for the future, particularly from the unique perspective of the travel industry. They recognized AI's transformative potential, envisioning it as the cornerstone of future technologies that will revolutionize various facets of life and work.
The importance of data quality and smart utilization of AI was strongly emphasized along with the need for effective AI governance. Undoubtedly, the integration of AI into business practices was deemed crucial for staying competitive, realizing efficiencies and innovating, though companies need to be mindful of mitigating risks.
The Maturing of Marketplace Revenue Models
A tech focused panel discussion on a wide range of topics, such as the lifecycle of a technology company to the factors that contribute to exponential growth, acceleration and winning a marketplace. The discussion included insight into how SaaS (Software as a Service) models evolve and addressed considerations when thinking through growth opportunities for the supply side of a marketplace business.
Host: Scott Veniot, GM, Growth & Marketing, LodgeLink Moderator: Scott Crockatt, VP, Communications & External Relations, Business Council of Alberta
Panelists: Jeff Smith, CEO And Co-Founder, DC Bank Alice Reimer, CEO, Fillip Kelly Schmitt, CEO, Benevity
During this high-energy panel, three CEOs of marketplace technology companies shared their experiences and insight into adopting SaaS (Software as a Service) models and the art of strategizing pricing for services. While it was clear no one tech business is the same, every panelist emphasized the importance of incorporating a fee for service structure to a growing marketplace technology company.
AI's role in business was another significant focus, with all acknowledging its increasing prevalence and sophistication and the potential opportunity for further data monetization. The value of efficient data utilization and the potential to offer valuable insights to customers for which they would be willing to pay was recognized and discussed by all.
As the conversation shifted to future trends, the participants explored various themes, including a growing focus on profit and purpose, the emergence of remote work opportunities, and the increasing digitization of payments.