Financial Post's Canada power list 2017
In their latest issue, Financial Post published its 2017 Power List. The list consists of the 25 Canadian “movers and shakers” the magazine's writers and editors think are moulding the country’s business sector. Below are the results of FP’s first ever Power List, along with some supporting quotes:
Aubrey Drake Graham AKA Drake - musician
“Drake is so salable that he inked a marketing deal last year with Apple, the world’s largest company and most-recognized brand. Since signing the deal — Apple offered US$19 million, according to the New York Post — Drake has appeared as a spokesman at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, allowed the tech company to use his music in advertisements and given streaming service Apple Music the exclusive rights to his latest album, Views. Sales of Views suggest the partnership is paying off. Apple sold a million copies of the album through the iTunes store during the first five days it was on sale in May, and fans streamed the album through Apple Music more than 250 million times, according to The Wall Street Journal.”
Hunter Harrison – CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway
“The chief executive of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has spent a long and successful railroad career sounding off about the industry and is undaunted by his opponents, whether they be politicians, regulators or competitors.
Even a planned retirement slated for July 2017 will not subdue his ambitions in the meantime. His latest campaign centres on the Western Canadian grain harvest, which is expected to be a bumper crop and be a positive development for the railways, which have been struggling with shrinking volumes amid weak commodity prices and a tepid economy.”
Steve Williams – CEO of Suncor Energy Inc.
“FirstEnergy Capital Corp. analyst Michael Dunn suggested in an August research note that Suncor — fresh of a $3-billion equity raise — could strike up to three more deals in the oilsands. The equity raise was intended to “reposition the balance sheet for potential further acquisitions,” Williams said during an earnings update over the summer. “Clearly our view at the moment is that there is more value to be had in the acquisitions and mergers pieces than the organic pieces and that’s where you’ve seen us spending our time.” He tried to temper expectations by saying “I think that cycle will come to an end,” but few people are convinced he’s done buying up distressed assets yet.”
Russ Girling – CEO TransCanada Corp.
“Russ Girling has become famous for the ambitious and contentious projects he has championed in both Canada and the United States. Now his company’s reach is growing in Mexico as well. The CEO and president of TransCanada Corp., the precocious Calgary-based pipeline builder and operator planning to spend $25 billion on growth projects between now and 2020, is also pushing some of the biggest and most divisive infrastructure projects on the continent.”
Frank McKenna – politician and deputy chair of TD Bank Group
“Chief among his activities is being an advocate for TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East project that would deliver 1.1 million barrels of oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan, through Quebec, and onto a deep-water marine terminal in McKenna’s home province of New Brunswick. Although he supports the idea of a carbon tax and renewable energy — and serves as board chairman of Brookfield Asset Management, which he notes holds the largest portfolio of North America’s private hydroelectric assets — he says Canada is still a gas and oil producer and should be extracting maximum economic rent from these resources.”
John Thornton – executive chairman of Barrick Gold Corp
“Since becoming chairman in 2014, the former Goldman Sachs president has overseen a massive overhaul at Toronto-based Barrick. He has replaced most of the executive team, axed middle management and made everyone more accountable. The results speak for themselves: Barrick has shed billions of dollars of debt and generated excellent financial results. That he inherited a debt-addled mess of a company from his predecessor Peter Munk makes the speed of his clean-up all the more remarkable.”
“His Palo Alto-based investment fund Social Capital, which Palihapitiya founded in 2011 after leaving Facebook Inc., where he worked closely with Mark Zuckerberg to grow the user base from 50 to 700 million, is valued at more than US$1 billion. Now 39, Palihapitiya says Social Capital is one of the fastest-ever VC firms to reach US$1 billion in assets — achieving that formidable milestone in less than five years.”
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.