Canadian Billionaires and the Conglomerates They Lead
Canada’s richest control what you eat, the information you process and the energy needed for modern society. Do you know who wields the most influence over your daily?
We have profiled Canada’s top-five billionaires, and believe it or not, the list doesn’t include RIM’s Jim Balsillie or Mike Lazaridis or even Joseph-Armand Bombardier.
The surprising list does have a reclusive media tycoon and a headline-grabbing entrepreneur, though.
David Kenneth Roy Thomson, 3rd Baron Thomson of Fleet
Source: Thomson Rueters
Net worth: $19 billion
Thomson tops the list of Canada’s richest and is the 20th richest in the world, according to Forbes. Thomson is the chairman of Thomson Rueters, the world’s leading source of information for businesses and professionals, which resulted from the merger of The Thomson Corporation and Rueters in 2007. The new entity, Thomson Rueters, operates in 100 countries, has over 55,000 employees and a nearly $13 billion in annual revenue.
Predetermined, Thomson assumed control of the information powerhouse when his father died in 2006 and his son will is the designated successor. He is currently connected to actress Kelly Rowan, whom he has a daughter with. Thomson is intensely private and detests many people in the business sphere.
James (J.K.) Irving, Arthur and John (Jack) Irving
Age: J.K. (82), Arthur (79), Jack (deceased at 78)
Source: Irving Group of Companies
Net worth: $7.28 billion
Home: Saint John, New Brunswick
Irving patriarch Kenneth Colin (K.C.) established Irving Oil Limited in 1924, which essentially financed the multitude of endeavors over the decades. K.C. eventually took over his father's sawmill company J.D. Irving Limited in Bouctouche. Today, the Irving Group of Companies is owned by K.C.’s two sons.
J.K. owns J.D. Irving, the conglomerate which has interests in forestry, pulp and paper, tissue, newsprint, building supplies, frozen food, transportation, shipping lines, and ship building. J.D. Irving is the largest single landowner in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine. Arthur owns Irving Oil, its retail stores, oil refinery, oil tankers and distribution terminals and facilities. The Irving family, possibly one of the richest in the world as their exact net worth is impossible to determine because the companies are privately owned, are often the source of ire. They have an almost a complete monopoly in print media in New Brunswick.
Source: George Weston Limited/Loblaw
Net worth: $6.47 billion
Galen’s grandfather George Weston pursued various business ventures, which included supermarket chains in North America and Europe. Today, Galen is Chairman and President of George Weston Limited, which owns Weston Foods Limited as well as controlling interest in Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada’s largest food retailer. He is also Chairman of Holt Renfrew in Canada, Selfridges in the United Kingdom, and Brown Thomas of Ireland.
Galen made his mark by turning around the once-prominent but headed for bankruptcy the Ontario-based Loblaws supermarket chain in 1971. By slashing stores and a revised marketing/advertising campaign, Galen was able to right the sinking ship. Galen was appointed Chairman and Managing Director of George Weston Limited in 1974, where he presides over one of Canada's most recognizable companies.
James Allen ‘Jim’ Pattison
Source: Jim Pattison Group
Net worth: $5.07 billion
Pattison owns the third largest company in Canada, which has holdings in numerous car dealerships, Overwaitea Foods and Save-On-Foods, Ripley's Believe It or Not! and radio and TV stations in British Columbia and Alberta. He also owned the Vancouver Blazers of the World Hockey Association.
The Jim Pattison Group bought GWR, the company that owns Guinness World Records, in 2008. The Jim Pattison Group also has holdings in four broadcast television stations and more than 25 radio stations. Most notably, Pattison paid a $200,000 ransom for one of his daughters who was famously kidnapped in 1990.
Edward Rogers III
Source: Rogers Communications
Net worth: $4.7 billion
By far the youngest of the top-five richest Canadians, Edward was appointed Deputy Chairman of Rogers Communications on September 15, 2009, Canada's largest cable company offering cable television, high-speed Internet access and residential telephone services. Rogers Retail is one of the largest retail chains in Canada with more than 475 stores.
Edward isn’t just an heir to a fortune; he’s helped create the wealth. As President and Chief Executive Officer of Rogers Cable Inc. and its three business units from 2003 to 2009, Edward doubled Rogers Cable’s EBITDA. In 2008 the Company generated $3.8 billion in revenue, over $1.2 billion in EBITDA and had over 14,000 employees.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.