May 19, 2020

A taste of 2020 from OCS: Cannabis 2.0

Will Girling
3 min
A taste of 2020 from OCS: Cannabis 2.0

Since the Cannabis Act of June 2018, a new sector was opened to the Canadian market with the potential, according to one report, to be worth CA$5bn by 2021.

Investors worldwide are now able to invest in stocks on the legal cannabis market. The Financial Times estimated the global market to be worth US$11bn in 2018, with the prediction of reaching US$50bn by 2029 - almost a 500% increase. The largest Canadian markets by sales volume are: Ontario (22.4%), Quebec (21.8%, and Alberta (19.9%), as detailed in this analysis from 2019. With unlockable profits seemingly available, the country’s biggest selling province, Ontario, where 39% of Canadian citizens reside, has room to expand its share.

On 10 June 2019, Ontario Cannabis Store - the only legal online retailer of cannabis in Ontario - announced its intention to release a greatly expanded range of cannabis product categories, including food and beverages. After months of careful consideration by Health Canada, OCS has now declared that it is ready to reveal 16 new, edible products to be available for purchase from 16 January 2020. 

OCS, a corporation mandated by the Government of Ontario, believes that this product diversification has been long awaited by the province’s citizens: “This product call marks an important milestone in securing a broad variety of cannabis products that meet the preferences of Ontario consumers,” said Patrick Ford, former President and CEO.


In a move that appears to demonstrate an ethos of taking the product of cannabis forwards, OCS is calling its new collection of products ‘Cannabis 2.0’. Ontario locals will find that portfolio to include a range of chocolate bars, cookies, mints and soft chews. There will also be tea, flavoured soda, and sparkling water available.

Given OCS’s enthusiasm for diversifying its product, it should be explained why it has taken until this point for edibles to secure a release date in the largest legal Canadian cannabis market. Ironically, it is the top three selling provinces (Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta) that have encountered the most red tape, as changes to law and regulation are made following decades of prohibition; the Canadian Government is dedicated to ensuring that consumers receive the highest quality products. 

When a press release from Health Canada announced the official legality of cannabis edibles on 17 October 2019, OCS finally had the ‘green light’ to develop its range. This also opens the possibility for other, Ontario-based companies, such as Canopy Growth Corp. and Cronos Group, to vary their output too and contribute to the expanding market.

So far, the difficulties experienced by OCS have been meeting consumer demand, with sales of edibles already anticipated to exceed available stock and dried herb supplies already struggling.

For more information on business topics in Canada, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Canada.

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for 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.

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