City Focus: Winnipeg
Located at the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, Winnipeg is the capital of the province of Manitoba. Historically a center of indigenous trade dating back long before European settlement, Winnipeg officially achieved cityhood in 1873 and today is home to over 705,000 people. Nicknamed “The Gateway to the West”, the city is a transportation hub with strong rail links served by Via Rail at Union Station for passenger rail. Freight Rail, meanwhile, is handled by the Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Manitoba and the Central Manitoba Railway.It is the only major city between Vancouver and Thunder Bay with train links directly to the United States, according to Destination Winnipeg.
Another element of Winnipeg’s role as a transportation hotspot is its air transport hub, the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. Located on the Western outskirts of the city, Winnipeg International is Canada’s seventh-busiest airport by number of passengers, serving over 4.3mn people in 2017. In 2018, this figure rose again to 4.5mn in 2018, continuing a period of steady growth for the airport, according to a report by Global News Canada.
“The increase in traffic this summer is directly connected to the growing interest in our city and province. Winnipeg and Manitoba are where people want to be, and we are seeing more and more traffic as a result,” said Barry Rempel, President and CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority. “WAA continues to work with our airline partners to improve service and add more destinations to connect our region to the world.” On average, Winnipeg International serves 11,000 passengers each day, and that figure is only expected to increase.
Additionally, Winnipeg International is the number one airport in Canada for dedicated freighter flights, keeping goods flowing efficiently and building on the city’s reputation as a transportation and logistics hub. All told, the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport has a CA$3.4bn economic benefit and supports over 17,000 jobs in and around the city.
Winnipeg International is not content to become one of the country’s biggest air hubs; it is also determined to be one of Canada’s smartest. Winnipeg International is one of a small group of Canadian airports to incorporate biometrics-enabled primary inspection kiosks into its border control process. According to a report by Biometric Update, Winnipeg, alongside select pilot programs in Toronto, Quebec and Hamilton, has implemented self-service, fingerprint-enabled kiosks for use by biometrically enrolled foreign nationals and permanent residents.
Biometric-enabled kiosks that automate the border clearance process are scheduled to be phased-in at all major Canadian airports throughout 2019. Its position as a leading player in the initiative should help Winnipeg International process its growing passenger base at an even greater speed.
In addition to being among the first adopters of self-service biometrics, in March 2019 Winnipeg International became North America’s very first airport to pilot an autonomous snow plow. Winnipeg experiences an average of 53 days of snow each year. Starting in Spring 2019, Winnipeg International will have its snow removal needs met by Otto, a specially designed ATI Snow Mauler configured to operate autonomously using Northstar Robotics technology.
"Launching North America's first autonomous snow plow is a great achievement for Winnipeg Richardson International Airport," said Rempel. "Our success is a direct result of bringing together partners who are committed to leading transportation innovation and growth."
Local Manitoba companies Northstar Robotics Inc and Airport Technologies Inc collaborated on the autonomous vehicle’s construction. The plow can perform snow clearing tasks by following predetermined routes and controlling the plow blade at specific locations, according to a press release by the Winnipeg Airports Authority.
"Autonomous technology is changing how we work," said Shawn Schaerer, President and Founder of Northstar Robotics. "It is exciting to partner with companies that are ready to adapt and pioneer this cutting-edge technology." ATI's President, Brendon Smith agreed, adding that "ATI is proud to be part of the team breaking new ground in snow clearing technology. We are excited to continue to find new ways to incorporate autonomous technology into our equipment."
Otto is equipped with 3D LIDAR and RADAR that can sense its surroundings and detect obstacles. The plow is also equipped with a fault tolerant wireless emergency stop system, a further safety enhancement. Research and development will continue, focusing on allowing Otto to operate in more complex areas of the airport.
Realizing the airport city vision
In addition to equipment, Winnipeg International is expanding its infrastructural capabilities in order to better support its industry-leading freight proficiencies. In June 2018, the Winnipeg Airports Authority broke ground on a 96,000 square foot Ground Services Equipment (GSE) Building. At the unveiling, Rempel said of the $27mn building: “The world is more and more connected every day, and for Winnipeg to fulfil its potential on the global stage we must have the infrastructure in place to compete. Today’s investment is another step in realizing the vision of Winnipeg as an airport city.”
The multi-use building will give ground handling, commissary and cargo companies operating space close to the terminal. Once completed, current tenants in the airport’s cargo campus will relocate to the new GSE Building, freeing up much-needed space in the cargo area for redevelopment. Winnipeg International is a constantly evolving and expanding entity, both an expression of and a driving force behind the rising star of Canada’s Gateway to the West.
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.