CanadianSME Business Magazine February 2021

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Welcome to the February issue of CanadianSME. We hope this second month of the new year is treating you well. Although COVID-19 is still among us and we have ways to go before the end of the pandemic, we’re staying optimistic about Canada’s business industry. We strongly believe that now is the time for entrepreneurs to stick together, and by doing so, we can go through these challenging times and come out on the other side stronger than ever before. At CanadianSME, we’re focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed. We understand that these are challenging times which is why we’ve made it our mission to provide entrepreneurs with all the resources they need to help them through these difficult times. With that in mind, this month’s issue is filled with interviews and topics that we believe Canadian entrepreneurs can benefit from. To start off strong, the Government of Canada has recently launched the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program. Make sure to read our article titled Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program: COVID-19 Support Loans that provided more detailed information about this program and how it can benefit Canadian SMEs. Additionally, Zoho’s Canadian Evangelist Chandrashekar LSP has also contributed to this month’s issue with his article How to Keep Pace with Increasing Customer Expectations in a Digital World. Ed Rodriguez, VP of Sales at Citrix Canada talks about the importance of technology in Smart Technologies Critical to a Successful Hybrid Work Model. Other articles you’ll find in this issue are 3 Steps to Being Valued, Tips for Growing Your Business Network, Tips for Business Leaders to Start the Year Off Right and 4 Reasons Why 2021 Will be the Year for the SME. Our February issue also includes interviews with top leaders such as Nancy Tichbon, Managing Director for Sage Canada, VP of Data Protection at Stericycle, Michael Borromeo, Director, Marketing and Business Operation at McAfee, Jean Treadwell, and Malgorzata Ratajska-Grandin, Startup Program Director at OVHcloud. We hope you find this month’s issue valuable and full of information that can help you remain successful during these challenging times. Happy reading and until next month! canadiansme canadian_sme canadiansme canadiansme

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IN THIS ISSUE CanadianSME small business magazine


Meet the Canadian Woman Who Built an International Medical Cannabis Company from the Ground Up


OVHcloud Start-Up Program opens up to scaleups for its 2020 edition


Consumers’ Digital-First Mindset Influenced by Shopping Habits and Desire for Convenience



It's better to be valued than to sell on value

Smart technologies critical to a successful hybrid work model

IN THIS ISSUE Canadiansme small business magazine


The Future of HR in Canada

Tips for Growing Your Business Network






4 Reasons Why 2021 Will be the Year Data Protection With Michael of the SME Borromeo

Focus: re-assessing financial goals during COVID-19

How to keep pace with increasing customer expectations in a digital world

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EdTech Startup Wize Raises US$3 Million to Enhance the Online Learning Experience for Students Delivery of highly tailored course content prevents learning loss due to COVID-19 and helps students realize their personal potential

Wize (, a fast-growing online education platform that delivers course-specific video tutorials and exam-like practice problems for high school, college, and university students across North America, today announced that it has raised US$3 million in funding. The funds will be used to develop and launch a new, more intuitive learning platform, and accelerate growth in content development across all grades, including the addition of MCAT and LSAT test prep. In addition, funding will be used to accelerate the company's expansion across Canada and into the U.S., and to further round out the team of education, UX, and development talent who will continue to evolve the Wize platform and offering, enabling it to become the world's leading provider of online education for course-specific learning. "The Wize platform already has a track record of success in developing and delivering superior coursetailored content, having helped over 70,000 students across North America with thousands of courses available on-demand," says Cyrus Moradian, CEO, and Co-Founder of Wize. He adds: "We expect this momentum to accelerate as we continue our relentless focus on expanding our offering in a way that works best for students and parents.

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"According to HolonIQ1, the education sector is starved of capital compared to other sectors, which means governments and institutions have not been able to keep up with digitizing learning. This was compounded in 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, which shone a light on the impact of underfunding in education. However, it also highlighted the value of Wize's supplemental online learning platform, which builds learning programs that directly match high school and post-secondary course syllabuses. The under-digitization of education is the primary driver behind an expected EdTech industry compound annual growth rate of 15 percent from $157B in 2018 to $420B by 2025, and Wize expects to be a meaningful contributor to that growth. "Wize is passionately focused on helping people reach their potential and they deeply understand that we all learn in wildly different ways. Our educational institutions were not designed for that, and this last year has made that glaringly clear," says Chris Bruzzo, EVP Marketing and Commercial at Electronic Arts, who has been advising Wize alongside a group of prominent angel investors and venture capital firms Luma Launch and Panache Ventures. He adds: "During the pandemic, the Wize team accelerated their plans to aid learners at every level -- high school, college and university, and post-graduate education. Sure, it's a massive business opportunity, but the Wize experience is entirely focused on empowering the human opportunity." Moradian concludes: "What truly sets Wize apart is our commitment to working with educators who are highly skilled and passionate about simplifying complex concepts on a platform that allows for complete personalization based on courses taught at a student's academic institution. This focus on personalization in everything we do is what will allow Wize to become a first-choice provider among students and parents at high school and post-secondary institutions and is what will propel us to become a formidable leader in online learning." About Wize Founded in 2017, Wize empowers students to realize their personal potential. Wize has evolved its platform into a comprehensive learning tool and aims to provide any high school, college, or university student in North America with access to course-specific video tutorials, practice problems, and 1:1 tutoring. Today, Wize courses cover grades 9-12 tailored to provincial curriculums in Canada as well as thousands of first-year college and university courses across North America, as well as MCAT and LSAT test prep. Whether students need a quick answer from an expert tutor, prepare for an exam, or anything in between, Wize empowers students with a study experience that is tailored to their course and study needs. To date, Wize has helped over 70,000 students across North America. Ninety-eight percent of Wize's paying customers (2020) indicated studying with Wize improved their grades, and 96% said that using Wize saved them time3. Learn more about Wize at Sources Technology & eLearning Insights, AGC Partners, January 2019 3.Wize survey of paying customers, September-December 2020


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The COVID Effect: Canadians Trust Doctors and Scientists while Politicians and Employers Lose Ground As the first anniversary of the pandemic hitting Canada approaches, Canadians hold the highest trust levels for scientists and doctors, while politicians and employers are sliding down the trust scale. A resounding 85 per cent of Canadians also agree that it is very or extremely important for citizens to have access to fact-based journalism. Canadians want advice from experts and information based on facts, both traits that support a healthy democracy. The results come from the 2021 Proof Strategies CanTrust Index, one of the largest studies of trust by Canadians in leaders, sources and institutions. The survey of 1,517 Canadians was conducted January 820, 2021 and follows a year of pandemic disruption and deaths, racial inequalities coming to a boiling point and an economic recession affecting millions of workers. "Canadians are telling us very clearly who they trust to get us through the pandemic, and the advice they want comes from labs not legislatures and medicine not management," said Bruce MacLellan, President & CEO of Proof Strategies. The three most trusted sources of "reliable information" in general are doctors at 81 per cent, scientists at 77 per cent and friends and family at 64 per cent. Educators are trusted by 62 per cent. In contrast, business executives are trusted by 24 per cent and politicians by 18 per cent. The CanTrust Index, now in its sixth year, has consistently shown high trust levels among Canadians for their key public services such as healthcare, education and the military. Canadians trust government services and the public sector, but not the politicians who oversee it. "While conspiracy theories and polarization are major issues south of the border, Canada is in a healthier state of trust. Our scientific and medical community should be at the decision table and encouraged to keep speaking the truth," added MacLellan.

Employers Receive Falling Grades

Canada's employees are giving a poor grade to their own employers about their capacity to build trust during this pandemic. Overall, employees give

employers a D grade in January 2021, down from a C- in January 2020. Frontline service workers, a group severely tested by the pandemic, have dropped the grade of their employers from C- to D-. Trust in large corporations remains very low at 27 per cent. Similarly, trust in management is at 28 per cent and boards of directors at 26 per cent. In positive findings, trust in Canadian financial markets increased over the year from 36 per cent to 43 per cent. "The dismally poor representation of gender and diversity on Canada's boards is certainly undermining trust. When people don't see themselves reflected, they can't trust their interests are considered," said MacLellan.

The drivers of corporate trust

Organizations should have deliberate plans for maintaining and building trust and be more aware of warning signs when trust is being eroded. Preserving trust requires intentional effort, every day by everyone. It should not be left to accident. When asked what behaviour will make a company or brand more trustworthy, Canadians say having values close to my own (67 per cent), a focus on employee safety and well being (67 per cent), having a leader that communicates openly (63 per cent), advocating for positive social change (58 per cent) and committing to inclusion and diversity (57 per cent). Residents of Quebec are more likely than other Canadians to trust companies that share their values and show advocacy for social change.

Trust in reliable information about COVID-19 and vaccines

For reliable information about COVID-19, 63 per cent of Canadians trust Canada's Chief Medical Officer of Health, 61 per cent trust their provincial health officer and 59 per cent trust the World Health Organization. The influence of CEOs in discussing the pandemic is limited, as only 24 per cent trust this group on the topic of COVID-19. In the middle, 46 per cent of Canadians say they trust journalists for COVID19 information.

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Overall, 64 per cent of people say they trust the vaccine to be safe and effective. Among lower income Canadians, trust in the vaccine is significantly lower at 50 per cent. "Our research indicates that lower income and younger Canadians in particular have the most significant levels of vaccine hesitancy," said Vanessa Eaton, Executive Vice President at Proof Strategies. "In order to achieve optimal vaccination levels, we need to better understand their concerns so we can better address them. A communication strategy, grounded in medical expertise and fact sharing, is needed to help increase trust and build a bridge from where we are today to where we need to be in months from now." Seven-in-ten Canadians are checking news sources regularly for pandemic updates, with 28 per cent checking multiple times a day and 42 per cent checking every day or so, underscoring both the dominance of the issue and the trust in the news media.

An East-West Divide in Canada

In general, trust in Canada's major institutions is falling in the west and stable in the east. Falling trust in the three Prairie Provinces is a key drag on overall national trust averages. In particular, trust in Prairie Premiers has plummeted from 38 per cent in 2020 to 22 per cent in 2021, with Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta falling 17 per cent. By contrast, trust in Atlantic Premiers has increased 14 per cent to 50 per cent over the year among residents of that region. In Canada's largest province, Ontario's Premier has gained 5 percentage points, rising from a trust level of 28 per cent last year to 33 per cent during the pandemic. Trust in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now at 32 per cent, down from 39 per cent a year ago, and his trust levels have fallen over the year in all five regions of the country, including a significant drop of 9 per cent in two provinces, British Columbia and Ontario.

Racism and Equity

In a year when racism and social inequity have come to the forefront, Canadians identify individual citizens at 59 per cent as having the greatest responsibility to address these issues, followed closely by the federal (58 per cent) and provincial governments (57 per cent). On a scale of zero to 100, Canadians assign a score of 62 for Canada's record of providing opportunity regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender. Concerns about systemic racism are certain to shape trust in Canada and it is not a coincidence that trust in the RCMP has fallen by 10 per cent to 50 per cent compared to one year ago.

There have been several challenges facing the organization during 2020 and only 41 per cent of lower-income Canadians now trust the RCMP. NOTE: Next month, the first CanTrust Index study of trust levels with Black Canadians will be released.

Other Survey Findings Trust in hospitals remains strong at 67 per cent and trust in the Canadian healthcare system is at 63 per cent; Trust in Canada's military is at 58 per cent, with the highest trust in Quebec at 62 per cent; Facebook remains one of the least trusted companies at 24 per cent, compared to Shoppers Drug Mart as one of the most trusted at 56 per cent; Canadians are divided about how the pandemic has made them feel toward fellow citizens, with 31 per cent saying they feel more together and united, 44 per cent saying they feel no difference and 26 per cent saying they feel less together and united. Atlantic region residents, at 37 per cent, are most likely to feel more united and only 14 per cent of them feel less together.

About Proof Strategies Inc.

For leaders responsible for managing, protecting and building organizations and brands, Proof Strategies is a public relations and communications partner that "asks better questions" to create insight, grow trust and achieve prosperity. Founded in 1994, the independently owned agency has offices in Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa and Washington, DC. Follow Proof at and on Twitter and Instagram at @get_proof. About the Proof Strategies CanTrust Index The Proof Strategies CanTrust Index is a leading source of research and understanding of trust in Canada. We study and analyze topics, institutions, events and population segments unique to Canada and surveyed 1,517 Canadians during January 8-20 by online panel. (There were 1,813 total interviews done including the sample augments.) The sample is representative of Canadian population statistics by region, age and gender.

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New digital coaching program offers curated, cost-effective and engaging real-time leadership development roadmap Successfully onboard and support new or newly promoted leaders with ELLA Toronto – 100 Days AS (“100 Days”) today launched ELLA, their ground-breaking digital coaching roadmap for newly appointed leaders, to North American clients. Up to 40% of newly appointed leaders, whether firsttime people leaders or experienced managers/directors, underperform in their new role. This leads to higher turnover for those positions and the teams reporting to them. This costly turnover results in demotivated, disengaged teams and, often, lost intellectual capital. The critical first 100 days of any new leader’s tenure sets the stage for the duration of their new role. ELLA operationalizes best practices into an easy-to use five-phase program packed with insights, tools and tips. Users adapt the program to their own needs and organization by applying the tools that work for their particular context over their first 100 days in their new role. As a key element of an organization’s leadership development program, ELLA boosts both individual performance and team performance, substantially reducing the risk of failure in a new role. “With the rise in remote work and growth of virtual teams, it has never been more important to have an effective coaching program in place for new managers,” said Managing Partner Christine Hepburn. “ELLA inspires new managers to find their bearings quickly. It encourages them to connect and integrate into the organization, build their network, and unite with their team in a meaningful way, without losing sight of their new job responsibilities. ELLA is a time-efficient and effective way to have impact in those all-important first 100 days of a new role.” The virtual nature of ELLA ensures it can be delivered in a very cost-effective manner. The investment for each user is roughly the same as the cost of a new cell phone. “ELLA fills an important gap in HR’s portfolio of tools. There is no other solution for helping managers succeed when they change roles,” says current client Yngvar Sjoner, SVP HR and Organizational Development of Nemko, a global testing and certification organization.

ELLA has been developed based on research showing that better onboarding leads to better performance for both the new leader and their team. ELLA ensures that investments in coaching can be made in all new leaders, not just the most senior, and is particularly relevant in today’s work environment where COVID-19 has forced many new leaders to begin their roles in a remote work situation. About 100 Days Founded in 2017, with offices in Norway, Sweden, UK, Germany, Netherlands and Canada, 100 Days is the pioneer in modern digital leadership development, empowering new managers to succeed in their new roles through ELLA, a powerful digital coaching program that supports their journey over their first 100 days.

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New CDW Canada report reveals that cloud adoption will define Canadian organizations' ability to meet future digital demand CDW's first-ever Cloud Report highlights cloud services' crucial role in delivering Canadian organizations' digital transformation ambitions CDW Canada, a leading provider of technology solutions and services for Canadian organizations proudly releases the first iteration of its annual Cloud Report, A Cloud-Based Digital Fabric Supports a Transformed Enterprise. The report, written with additional support and analysis from IDC Canada, analyzes and forecasts the state of cloud adoption in the Canadian business landscape, identifying key trends, best practices and important perspectives throughout the full spectrum of cloud adoption journeys. Driven by shifts in consumer demand, a need to stay ahead of competition and overcome business challenges, incorporating new technologies and pursuing a digital transformation strategy are necessities for any Canadian organization. According to the Cloud Report, over half (52 percent) of organizations have already or plan to invest in cloud-based infrastructure and applications to ensure the reliable delivery of services. This push for adoption was largely due to COVID-19, which forced many organizations to realize the shortcomings of on-site solutions and data centres. "The onset of a global pandemic expedited the need for scalable and reliable solutions in order to sustain business operations and employee productivity," said Theo Van Wyk, head of solution development and cybersecurity, CDW Canada. "Organizations are looking to the future more than ever and understand that digital transformation is an essential component of their long-term success. Cloud can be a powerful enabler to deliver against digital transformation ambitions and help Canadian organizations become digitally determined rather than distraught, while future-proofing their businesses for the years ahead."

Growth of digital services and experience will strain future IT systems According to the Cloud Report, three-quarters (75 percent) of Canadian executive officers believe that the ability to deliver reliable digital services and experience at scale will grow in importance over the next five years. Additionally, surveyed senior line of business and IT executives anticipate nearly half (50 percent) of organizational revenue will be generated by digital products, services and experiences within the same time frame. Unsurprisingly, this concentrated interest will strain IT systems and put pressure on organizations to ensure scalability and reliability. As a result, Canadian organizations are broadly exploring and investing in a variety of new technologies to modernize existing capabilities to meet anticipated need. Most organizations (78 percent) indicated a current or upcoming investment in data mining and analytics technologies, followed by 52 percent in AI/ML, respectively.

Medium-sized organizations slowest to adopt cloud, but see the greatest benefit after implementation While CDW Canada anticipates the growth of public cloud adoption to exponentially expand in coming years, adoption rate from medium-sized (100-499 employees) Canadian organizations currently rests behind their smaller (1-99 employees) and larger (500+ employees) peers – especially with PaaS and IaaS. This is primarily due to technical debt and a hesitancy to divest legacy IT systems resulting in different priorities; according the report, one-third (33 percent) of large firms see cloud as the platform for digital innovation, while only one-quarter (25 percent) of medium-sized organizations say the same. However,

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medium-sized firms that do adopt cloud outpace their smaller and larger peers. One-third (33 percent) of medium organizations felt that their cloud journey helped drive digital transformation – a strong validation of why firms of this size should invest in cloud services to gain competitive advantage.

Workload management has shifted from data centres to cloud operating models When looking at enterprise workloads, Canadian organizations increasingly rely on third-party cloud data centres rather than internal IT environments. This is reflected in IT budgets, as a greater proportion are being allocated for cloud services. In fact, the Cloud Report notes that half of IT budgets (50 percent) were spent on external data centres in 2020, including colocation data centres, hosted private clouds and public clouds. By 2022, Canadian organizations are expected to allocate 44 percent of IT budget to internal data centres and 56 percent of budgets to run workloads in external data centres. More than half of Canadian organizations (60 percent) run their enterprise application workloads in hybrid IT environments, meaning they use a combination of on-premise, private cloud and public cloud deployments that provide the ability to choose the right environment for each workload. Organizations are increasingly turning to cloud operating models to position workloads across multiple platforms and extract the greatest value from their investments. Very few organizations (20 percent) are moving their workloads from the cloud straight back to a centralized on-premises data centre, whereas a similar number prefer to repatriate from public to private cloud (22 percent) and one-third (29 percent) want a shift from private to public.

The road to cloud Constrained or reduced IT budgets (44 percent) are typically the most common factor that lead Canadian organizations to consider using cloud services – an even larger driver for small (52 percent) and mediumsized (46 percent) organizations. Other drivers of cloud services are compliance requirements (43 percent), supporting digital transformation initiatives (40 percent), access to new services/functionalities (36 percent) and the ability to scale up capacity to support exponential data growth (35 percent). Larger enterprises with more robust resources are increasingly adopting a cloud-first approach, as onpremise/private hardware and software investments reach end of life. Interestingly, just under half (48 percent) of small businesses noted that digital transformation initiatives were the top reason for exploring cloud – the highest response throughout each business size. Once organizations start to deploy cloud, regardless of driver, the greatest benefits are realized in improved security (38 percent), business agility (34 percent), simplified/standardized infrastructure (33 percent), sourcing control (30 percent) and driving digital transformation within the business (29 percent).

Join the conversation online by following @CDWCanada on Twitter and LinkedIn. About CDW Canada CDW Canada is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare. CDW Canada helps customers achieve their goals by delivering integrated technology solutions and services that help customers navigate an increasingly complex IT market and maximize the return on their technology investment. Areas of focus include software, networking, unified communications, data centre and mobility solutions. CDW Canada is on the Channel Daily News Top 100 Solutions Provider list in Canada, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vernon Hills, Illinois-based CDW Corporation, a Fortune 500 company. For more information, visit

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COVID-19 and Winter Blues This New Toronto High-Tech Mental Health Clinic is Using Breakthrough Therapy to Meet Surge in Demand Amid Pandemic As more and more Canadians struggle to cope with the unprecedented impact of living through a global pandemic – with 50 per cent reporting their mental health has worsened as a result of COVID-19, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – a new, unique high-tech mental health clinic in Toronto is seeing a surge in patients of all ages. “If you have a predisposition for mental distress, the pandemic may trigger clinical levels of anxiety or depression that require professional intervention,” said Dr. Leo Steiner, who opened TMS Clinics of Canada in September to pioneer a groundbreaking, non-invasive treatment that combines cutting-edge brain technology – called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – with talk therapy to treat depression, along with anxiety, OCD and other mental health issues. Since opening its doors, the clinic is busier than expected, treating an equal number of men and women aged 18 to 75 with an impressive success rate. “More than 70 per cent of the people we’re seeing are experiencing a reduction in intensity of their symptoms, and roughly 60 per cent are approaching full remission,” Dr. Steiner said. The clinic’s unique approach involves a combination of cutting-edge technology – the world’s most advanced TMS machine developed by Israeli scientists and approved by Health Canada that uses magnetic fields to stimulate the brain’s nerve cells – with psychotherapy specifically designed to accompany the technology. Unlike a small number of Ontario hospitals that are using TMS primarily as a research tool, TMS Clinics of Canada is providing a patient-centric service that combines daily 20-minute TMS treatments together with supportive talk therapy sessions. Most patients report

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How TMS works TMS works by sending painless electromagnetic pulses to stimulate circuitry in areas of the brain that have decreased activity in people who suffer from mood disturbance. Patients wear a specially designed helmet to carefully map out the precise area that requires stimulation. Dr. Steiner explained the game-changing technology solves a prominent “disconnect” in the brain, common in people who suffer from clinical levels of depression and anxiety. Brain imaging studies of these patients reveal underactive connectivity between the rational, planning area of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex) to areas that regulate emotions, motivation and energy. Without adequate connectivity, patients simply don’t have the circuitry they need to get well. “In very broad strokes, it’s similar to ballroom dancing,” he said. “You have the ‘lead’ that knows the steps but lacks the passion, and you have the ‘follow’ that has all the energy, but lacks direction. They clearly need one another to dance. The front part of the brain is the lead, it knows what to do when, and the back is the follow, where the energy and passion reside. If you cut the connection between the two, your emotions are untethered from the part of the brain that should be directing them.”

Life-changing results For Emma Piggott, a 32-year-old resident of Keswick, Ontario, the clinic’s novel approach has been lifetransforming. After suffering from deep depression, OCD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for more than half of her life, the young mother of two boys was desperate for help. When she suffered a major breakdown in September, her parents encouraged her to give the new TMS clinic a try. “I’ve been in and out of therapy for years and used to be on a variety of medications,” Piggott said. “Since I started TMS treatment, I’m a changed person. I’m more engaged with my kids, I get up in the morning and I’m back to being the happy, positive person I was when I was younger,” she said, adding that even her sons, ages eight and nine, notice a difference. Not only does Piggott now feel like a huge weight has lifted, she’s also moving forward with her dream to become an electrician and recently started a preapprenticeship program. “Throughout the pandemic, people have been saying what a horrible year 2020 was,” she said. “For me, it was one of my best years yet because I finally got out of my depression.”

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Sam Bessey, a 50-year-old war veteran who began experiencing post-traumatic stress-related depression following 21 years of military service, including four stints in Bosnia and two in

For those feeling down amid the pandemic,

Afghanistan, reported similar results from his TMS treatment.

Dr. Steiner offers the following advice to help

especially with winter weather expected to negatively impact Canadians’ mental health, keep depression at bay:

“Before the therapy, I felt completely black and hopeless, and had no happiness at all,” said Bessey, who is based in Chalk River, Ontario, and was treated with Dr. Steiner’s TMS and talk therapy for just over five weeks. “The treatment alleviated my depression and I now have a larger emotional range of feelings, am more present with my family and not as reclusive as I was,” he explained, adding that his wife and three grown daughters noticed a change in his previously flat voice tone after just three weeks. “I may not always be happy now, but if I’m not, it’s my choice not to be and not the black feeling in my brain blocking it.” Dr. Steiner, who has more than 30 years of experience in the mental health field, has worked with indigenous populations, federal inmates and military veterans, as well as in both in-patient and out-patient psychiatric departments in GTA hospitals. With a specialty in Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology, he decided to invest in TMS technology after visiting several clinics in the U.S. where the treatment has been approved by the FDA for the last 10 years. “I know what patients look like when they’re in the midst of treatment and I couldn’t believe it. People were actually beaming, optimistic and happy. There was a certain amount of energy in the room that you just don’t see in a traditional clinic setting,” he said. The breakthrough machine used at TMS Clinics of Canada is capable of precisely targeting deeper, more diffuse parts of the brain. In addition to treating depression and anxiety, the clinic just acquired a coil designed to treat OCD that was approved by Health Canada just last month, and is expecting to treat smoking cessation in the future. “Many of the people I see simply cannot talk. They’re angry, depressed, despairing and they just sit there while the hour ticks by,” Dr. Steiner explained. “This treatment often helps them open up and facilitates talk therapy.”

Give yourself permission not to be happy. Depression is a disease that causes the brain’s circuitry to stop working properly. Just as you wouldn’t expect to get up and walk if you were in a wheelchair, depression puts you in an emotional wheelchair and it’s impossible to simply snap out of it. Exercise daily. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something, even as simple as a daily walk around the block. Take a break. Even if you don’t feel like watching TV, turn on your favourite comedian or funny movie and laugh. Make a commitment to take care of someone or something. If you try to take care of your own happiness, there’s no end to it and you’ll never feel fulfilled. If you focus on someone else’s happiness – even a small gesture like making a phone call to someone who’s lonely – you can make a big difference in their life and in turn, it will boost your spirits. Create a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Figure out something you really like to do – drink coffee, exercise, take care of a pet, for example – and use it to trick yourself into getting moving. View depression as an opportunity. You’re going to go through a hard time, but if you embrace your symptoms, recognize the signs and take steps to get better, you will find the silver lining.

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Dr. Mohamad Fakih President & Ceo Of Paramount Fine Foods Face & Voice Of Unhcr Canada: The Un Agency In Canada

In 2006, Dr. Mohamad Fakih, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, purchased a nearly bankrupt restaurant and transformed it into what is now known as the fastest growing Middle Eastern Halal restaurant chain in North America – Paramount Fine Foods. Mohamad’s determination to change perceptions surrounding Middle Eastern food has driven Paramount’s brand success across Canada and Internationally as well as advancing the global Middle Eastern food trend. A community leader, Dr. Fakih regularly participates in fundraisers and community events, supporting multiple causes and organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Sick Kids Hospital, the Make a Wish Foundation in Toronto and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Canada. Both Paramount and Mohamad have donated generously to these charities and other non-profit organizations. Across his restaurants, Mohamad offers discounts to all Emergency Service Workers in uniform to show appreciation for their service in our communities. In past years, after the Canadian government decided to welcome 25,000 Syrian Refugees, Dr. Fakih made headlines in Canadian news when he travelled to Lebanon to visit the Islamic Relief Camps for Syrian Refugees to gain a deeper understanding of current relief efforts. Hoping to lead by example, Mohamad partnered with Ryerson University, Toronto for the Lifeline Syrian Challenge – allowing Paramount Fine Foods to fund employment support counsel to help recruit new Syrian Canadians during their job search.

Mohamad opened the doors of Paramount restaurants to the skills and drive many refugees bring to Canada by providing up to 150 jobs for the newcomers in his restaurants in 2017. Dr. Fakih’s determination to uphold the values of giving back to communities where Paramount restaurants are located has resulted in a workplace culture of giving to others and supporting one another. He has made philanthropy and giving back a key part of Paramount’s culture and identity, setting it apart from other restaurants and businesses globally. Dr. Fakih has been featured in several leading media outlets across Canada including CBC and CP24 Television, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Newstalk 1010, National Post and many more. In February 2017, Dr. Fakih was acknowledged before the Canadian Parliament by the Prime Minister of Canada – Justin Trudeau - as an Exemplary Canadian Citizen and Businessman who successfully operated a Middle Eastern restaurant chain, and was applauded for his charitable work in January 2017 when he covered the funeral costs of six victims of a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque. In his business affairs and community work, Dr. Fakih is viewed as a Canadian of Lebanese birth who brings together people of all origins in a global workplace, advancing our communities and helping each other to contribute to our societies. The Prime Minister of Canada, as well as the Premier of Ontario, and several Mayors have all visited Paramount Restaurants in Ontario.

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Along with being named a finalist in the 2014 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Dr. Fakih made the cover of Canadian Immigrant Magazine for both his business success and inspiring life story. In addition, The Globe and Mail titled Dr. Fakih one of Toronto’s “16 to watch in 2016”. The list, released in January included other notable Canadians such as John Tory, Mayor of Toronto and Alessia Cara (International Artist). Toronto Life Magazine named Dr. Fakih as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in 2017 and 2019, including him in a list of successful politicians, international businessmen, media and tech titans who are changing the world as we know it. In 2018 Dr. Fakih received an honorary Doctor of Law Degree, from Ryerson University in Toronto. Dr. Fakih most recently received the prestigious 2018 Employer Award for Newcomer Employment from IRCCImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In May 2018, the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched a new partnership with Dr. Fakih, to support the Agency’s work for refugees globally and in Canada. UNHCR recognized Dr. Fakih’s vision and commitment to building a Canada that is strengthened by diversity and leads globally on refugee issues, based on his contribution in promoting the economic and social integration of refugees into our communities. He is the voice and the face of UNHCR Canada. Dr. Fakih is committed to revamping the traditional image of the Middle Eastern Restaurant industry by changing the way the cuisine is viewed and enjoyed. He believes that his hands-on approach to all aspects of his business ensures the Paramount model will sustain its growth and continue to provide jobs for Canadians including new immigrants, and globally as Paramount expands.

Paramount currently employs over 2000 people across its 71 restaurants and gourmet butcher shops globally with 42 in Canada and 12 international locations, plus food factories and its Toronto international corporate head office. Paramount continues to be proud to bring Halal Foods to the world after being the first halal restaurant to open at Terminals 1 and 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Dr. Fakih is a strategic and successful business leader who employs his skills, expertise and experience into expanding Paramount’s brand to pioneer the halal market globally. He believes this can only be achieved by sharing his vision, knowledge and expertise with his management teams and franchisees in every country where he opens locations. Dr. Fakih aims to continue the swift growth of Paramount globally while continuing to promote excellent standards of food quality and service in Middle Eastern restaurants and to share the cuisine with diverse audiences. In 2019, after a long battle of legal actions against hate crime hates speech and Islamophobia, the Ontario Supreme Court awarded Dr. Fakih $2.5 million dollars in damages for defamation against Kevin J. Johnston. Dr. Fakih continues to support communities who face hate crime and hate speech. He donated all the collected money to an anti-hate fund. This legal battle not only creates a precedent, it is also the largest defamation award in Canada. In the last 5 years, Dr. Fakih has received numerous awards for his business excellence and for his charitable works including a few mentioned below: • Entrepreneur of the Year – Food and Beverage Finalist 2013 to 2014 - Ernst & Young, Ontario, Canada • Readers’ Choice Community Gold Award 2013 and 2014 Hamilton, Ontario newspapers • Top Meat Shop 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 - Top Choice Media Awards in Toronto, Ontario • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant and Top Butcher Shop in Mississauga, Ontario - • Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 – MAX Gala – Muslim Awards for Business • Excellence in Ontario, Canada • Business Person of the Year 2016 - Business Excellence Award - Toronto Board of Trade • Regional Company of the Year 2016 - Pinnacle Awards Kostuch Restaurant and Food Industry Media Canada • Excellence in Community Engagement 2016 - Pioneers of Change Awards/ Skills for Change - Toronto • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant in Ontario, Canada 2016 Toronto Life Magazine

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• United Way Recognition of Support Award 2016 - Peel Regional Police in Ontario, Canada • Top Choice Award for Paramount Restaurants and Butcher Shop in Ontario, Canada-2017 – Top Choice Media • Consumers Choice Award - Best Mediterranean Restaurant in the Greater Toronto Area - 2017 • Business Person of the Year 2017 – Brampton, Ontario – Board of Trade • Sawa Business Excellence Award – The year 2017 - Sawa International Group Gala - Quebec, Canada for International Relief Organization Awards • Restaurants Canada - Leadership Award 2017 - Organization for Excellence in Canadian Restaurants. • Royal Bank of Canada - Top 25 Immigrant Award 2017 • Toronto Life Magazine - Top 50 Most Influential People Awards - 2016, 2017 and 2019 • Doctor of Law, Honorary Doctorate Degree - Ryerson University, Toronto, 2018 2018 Employer Award for Newcomer Employment – from IRCC: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada • UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency in Canada – 2018 - New partnership with Dr. Fakih, President and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods and Founder of the Fakih Foundation • Recipient of the Senate 150 Medal 2018 – Given to individuals across Canada who has been nominated by senators to mark the 150th anniversary of the first sitting of the Senate • University of West Indies, Raymond Chang Award 2019 – Given to individuals who exemplify leadership and philanthropy in commitment to the betterment of communities in Canada. • VOSCARS, Hazel McCallion Power of Giving Award, 2019 – Given to individuals with generosity and determination who have made a variety of contributions to the community. • Ontario Supreme Court – Dr. Fakih awarded $2.5 million dollars against Kevin J. Johnston in a defamation court case • Business Person of the Year Award, 2019 – Won the prestigious Business Award of Excellence 2019, by the Mississauga Board of Trade. • Key to the City of Mississauga, 2019 - Awarded the key to the city of Mississauga by Mayor Bonnie Crombie, bestowed upon esteemed community members, former residents and visitors whom the Mayor wishes to honour. • Canada’s Most Admired CEO 2019, Mid-market category – Recognized as a national winner for fostering high-performance corporate cultures that help sustain a competitive advantage. • Member of National Speakers Bureau

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Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program: COVID-19 Support Loans The Government of Canada has launched the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) to provide pandemic support loans for all Canadian businesses, largely for highly affected sectors such as hospitality and tourism. HASCAP government funding supports all businesses that have experienced a substantial decrease in revenues by at least 50% because of COVID-19. Qualified small to medium-sized Canadian businesses can receive up to $25,000 to $1 million in HASCAP support loans, and larger organizations with multiple locations such as restaurants or hotels can receive up to $6.25 million in government funding.

About HASCAP Loans for COVID-19 Business Support Administered through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) aims to offer financial assistance to Canadian businesses that have been hit hard by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applicant Eligibility: Based on the following eligibility criteria established by the Government of Canada, a primary financial institution will determine whether a business qualifies for HASCAP loans. An eligible business must be based in Canada, and have been financially stable and viable prior to the current economic situation. An eligible business must have received payments either from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) by having demonstrated a minimum 50% revenue decline for at least three months (not necessarily consecutive) within an eight-month period prior to the date of the HASCAP Guarantee application.

If an eligible business does not qualify for CEWS and CERS, but otherwise meets all HASCAP eligibility criteria, they must provide financial statements that reflect at least three months where their revenue decreased by a minimum 50% within the eightmonth period prior to the date of the HASCAP Guarantee application.

Amount: An eligible business can apply for a HASCAP loan for each legal entity they own, up to a maximum combined amount of $6.25 million (all legal entities combined). Up to $25,000 to $1 million in loans for a single, small to medium-sized business. Up to $6.25 million in loans for large organizations with multiple business locations.

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Eligible Expenses: HASCAP loans cannot be used to pay or refinance existing debts; the loan will be used exclusively to continue or resume operations by relief of payments relating to: Rent payments. Employee payroll. Utilities. Any additional costs deemed eligible to sustain business operations.

Timeline: The HASCAP Guarantee is available until June 30, 2021. From a 4% interest rate and a repayment term of up to 10 years. Up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan.

Other COVID-19 Government Funding Support Options As we approach an entire year of living with a global pandemic, there have been dozens of government programs that have launched in support of the relief and recovery of Canadian businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, lockdowns, and overall pandemic fatigue. To learn more about these government funding options offered to assist Canadian businesses during the COVID19 pandemic, please visit the Mentor Works COVID-19 Funding Page. Author: Alena Barreca - As a Marketing Coordinator at Mentor Works, Alena helps Canadian business owners by creating educational content about government funding. Mentor Works is a business support organization specializing in Canadian government funding. The Ontariobased business has helped hundreds of businesses build and execute their funding strategy through a mix of federal and provincial government grants, loans, and tax credits. Mentor Works offers free online resources, funding webinars, and news via their website at

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Meet the

Canadian Woman

Who Built an International Medical Cannabis Company from the Ground Up

If you had asked Diane Scott where she would be 10 years ago, being the only female CEO in Canada to head a global medical cannabis company would not have crossed her mind. Yet today she’s doing just that. Born and raised just outside Toronto, Canada, Diane Scott is a venture capitalist who has worked around the globe. Her latest venture, JMCC Group, has dealings in four countries and three continents. With its global headquarters in Toronto, the company has cultivation processing, R&D, manufacturing and packaging operations in Jamaica. JMCC Group also has state-of-the-art logistics and distribution hubs in Jamaica, Europe and Australia and will establish a Canadian warehouse in the next 12 months. But how did she get here?

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“I was approached several years ago about investing in a medical cannabis farm in Jamaica. While we didn’t end up investing in that opportunity, we were impressed with Jamaica’s optimal, natural growing environment, and long cultural and scientific experience with cannabis. To create something we knew would succeed, we leveraged these assets with world-leading scientific expertise to ensure compliance with international pharmacopeia and quality standards.”

The story is in line with Diane’s ethos: “If it doesn’t exist, let’s create it.” That same mentality has guided much of her work with JMCC. A Jamaican cannabis industry existed before JMCC, but Diane wanted to build something different. “My focus was to build an international team that could deliver the highest quality product possible. One thing that struck me the first time I went to Jamaica was the possibility of producing that level of the product more sustainably without compromising our ability to meet international standards. . This is crucial given that we are developing medicine. A growing number of patients are demanding organic products. People want to know that what they're putting in their bodies is of the highest quality, naturally produced and safe. This was really missing in a lot of medicinal cannabis being produced and it was a piece that I believed was extremely important.” JMCC grows its medical cannabis in custom-designed mesh greenhouses that take advantage of Jamaica’s ideal growing conditions to produce more sustainably. It is also completing pre-work to achieve Organic certification for its crops and EUGMP certification for its processing and other operations.

Diane’s entrepreneurial ethos extends to other areas of the corporation. Recently, when JMCC could not find a suitable distribution hub for its product in Europe, she negotiated a joint-venture deal to build a state-of-the-art distribution centre in Jersey, The Channel Islands. JMCC has also just signed a distribution agreement with an Australian partner to cover Australasia. Together with its existing distribution operations in Jamaica for North and South America, these now form an entirely new division, JMCC Distribution. Likewise, after hearing from physicians and other stakeholders that there was a need for more targeted medical cannabis products for specific conditions, Diane brought on medical researchers and advisors to create JMCC Scientific, which includes product R&D and manufacturing. “We’re also delivering a comprehensive support ecosystem that enables medical professionals and patients to collaborate to devise the most effective personalized treatment program.” As a result of these moves, JMCC is on the frontlines to revolutionize the understanding of cannabis as medicine and improve patient access globally. That has not gone unnoticed.

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Last year, JMCC became the only company to be specifically invited to participate in Project Twenty21, Europe’s largest observational medical cannabis study, and one of only five companies in the world. The journey, from founding JMCC to turning it into a global force in the industry has taken less than four years, but Diane insists that her strategy was to move slowly and stay true to her mission. Other cannabis companies have grown faster, largely by going public. However, several of these companies have recently also seen their valuations drop significantly and been forced by shareholders to retrench and/or merge.

“We resisted the call to go public or to move at a faster pace. For me, it was about making sure that not only was the end-product something that I could be proud of, but also that every step of the journey was the best it could be for patients as well as the JMCC team.” “We constantly remind each other that we are committed to delivering a high-quality product that is medicine. This is something that patients ultimately will use -- patients who have compromised immune systems or who could be at the end of their lives. Everybody who works in the company, from the security guards to the head of sales, knows the importance of what we’re doing, and they come to work every day ready to stand up and deliver on that.” Diane can’t help but smile when she talks about the next steps for 2021. “I feel like everything we've worked for is happening. It's not about to happen. It's happening now, and I really am so excited about 2021. Patients around the world who need and deserve safe, natural medicinal cannabis will have it. That’s mission accomplished for me.”

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The Future

of HR in Canada Nancy Tichbon Managing Director for Sage Canada Nancy Tichbon is Managing Director for Sage Canada. Nancy is passionate about helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams by empowering them with the tools needed to thrive in today’s challenging business climate. She brings over 20 years of visionary leadership to her role, nurturing key relationships that drive exceptional experiences for Sage colleagues, partners and customers. Consistently providing strategic vision and developing capable teams, Nancy has demonstrated a strong track record of driving complex change, exceeding sales expectations, building customer loyalty and driving maximum profitability at Canada’s top tech companies. Previously, Nancy was VP, Sales for Bell Mobility and Bell Residential and also served as VP, Customer Experience at Bell. As a customer success leader, Nancy built and managed Customer Operations at tow Virgin Mobile start-ups, while leading Virgin Mobile Canada to win multiple, nationallevel customer satisfaction awards.

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, 60% of businesses have noticed an increase in both admin and strategic tasks in their HR department. In this interview, we chatted with Nancy Tichbon to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted the HR industry and how does HR department contributes to the success and growth of a business. 1. What can you tell us about your current role at Sage Canada to give our readers a better understanding of what it is you do? My name is Nancy Tichbon, and I am the EVP and Managing Director for Sage Canada. Sage is the market leader for technology that provides small and medium businesses with the visibility, flexibility, and efficiency to manage their finances, operations, and people. My role is to lead the team and drive success for Sage in the Canadian market, with an emphasis on ensuring exceptional experiences for Sage colleagues, partners, and customers. With over 20 years of experience and alongside the best team, I lead Sage Canada with strategic vision, helping us become one of Canada’s top tech companies. 2. In your expert opinion, how do you believe COVID19 has impacted the HR industry? / Why do you believe the pandemic has resulted in bringing more value and understanding to the HR role? Sage recently released a new HR report titled “HR at the moment: Changing expectations and perceptions of HR”, which spoke to 1,500 HR leaders in Canada, the UK, the U.S., and Australia. The report revealed that as a result of the pandemic, 87% of C-Suite executives have seen greater influence from the HR function which has accelerated changes in the HR field.

3. Sage recently released their report HR at the moment: Changing expectations and perceptions of HR. What findings surprised you the most from the report? The report revealed a shift and evolution in the HR field during the pandemic. In fact, 59% of HR leaders felt that they were playing a more influential role in their organization, with a further 59% of the C-suite finding HR more focused on digital transformation, and 67% of HR leaders saying they wanted to invest more in HR tech in the future. Furthermore, 73% of HR leaders say the crisis has helped them demonstrate their value to the organization and increase the understanding of HR’s role in their company, as HR and People teams around the globe stepped up, leaned in, and seized the opportunity to be more flexible, responsive, and build more resilient and agile organizations. While the report’s findings were not necessarily surprising, they are necessary and inspiring for the future. Now that the new standard has been set where HR leaders are driving change with the C-suite more than ever than before - it can continue, and HR leaders should get ready for this next phase of transformation. I believe when things go back to normal, most organizations will continue with some work from home flexibility. HR leaders should be preparing for that now by recommending best practices and investments to propel their organization into the future. Also, to note, the report highlighted that 60% of HR leaders have experienced an increase in their workload, while 67% of the C-suite do not believe that this increased workload is unmanageable. Addressing this discrepancy is key to ensuring the HR function is supported with the right resources and tools as the importance of their role increases.

The pandemic has impacted not only the business community at large but has disrupted employees’ personal lives, and more than ever before, we have had to prioritize putting people first. The personal and professional realms have become intertwined as more people work from home, and additionally, as more people experience significant life and family changes during the pandemic. The way forward for businesses is to focus on people first and advocate for them so they can be your company’s best advocates. This includes enabling remote working, making improvements internally, and supporting employee wellbeing.

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4. Many businesses don’t invest in their HR department since they don’t see the value it can bring to their company. Do you believe that HR can have a positive impact on a company’s success?

Only 53% of HR leaders feel fully prepared with the tools they need for the future. Fulfilling this need is essential to help HR continuously support the demand of the People function. HR should

How does it contribute to the success and growth of a business?

understand what they require to ease the burden of their administrative tasks as well as what employees themselves need to succeed in their roles. Working with the leadership team, HR can integrate the right

Absolutely, HR plays a pivotal role in any company’s success and people are in some way impacted by many of the decisions being made by business leaders. Therefore, all things need to be addressed and considered with people in mind. This is a belief of many iconic leaders, in fact, Richard Branson himself lives by a philosophy of People 1st, Customer 2nd and Shareholder 3rd.

technology needed for more streamlined, intuitive, and efficient processes. A cloud HR suite like Sage HR can significantly cut HR admin time by leveraging the power of automation, freeing up valuable time for HR leaders to focus on their people and drive the business forward.

Findings from the report demonstrate that 58% of Csuite executives now see HR and People leaders as respected partners in the organization, with 84% believing others in their organization were previously unclear on the value of HR. Moreover, 60% of employees have noticed a change in HR’s role, such as being more involved in driving change and people-related decisions, with 57% naming the pandemic as a catalyst for these changes. And all for the benefit of employees. I encourage HR leaders to seize on this momentum by continuing to have a voice beyond simply handling of the pandemic. Take action so you can continue to grow your business knowledge, add value with brilliant solutions during the decision-making process and get involved to help leaders make the right decisions. 5. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 60% of businesses have noticed an increase in both admin and strategic tasks in their HR department. What initiatives and procedures do you believe HR leaders should be implementing that can benefit them? With more work to do comes a greater need to do things more efficiently, especially if businesses were not prepared for the abrupt changes that came in 2020. Think about new processes and tools that can drive consistent, repeatable high-quality experiences, whether digitizing quarterly reviews, enhancing virtual onboarding or collaboration tools to bring people together. There are many exciting ways to lift employee productivity and enhance work satisfaction.

6. On a final note, what takeaway should entrepreneurs take from the report that can benefit them and their HR department in the long run? For small and medium businesses, our HR report lays the groundwork for adopting a people-first approach as a business advantage that can pay dividends for happier and productive employees and more satisfied customers. My advice is to focus on your employees first. Be intentional by leaning into what you can do as an employer. Develop your thought leadership by always having curiosity and a learning mindset. Your people's 1st philosophies are even more impactful when they can be weaved into the real problems occurring operationally, so get close to your business. Know the financial performance, the levers for success, your competitors’ proposition and the business challenges facing leaders. With this knowledge, your solutions will be sought out and you will be able to create a real competitive advantage and help your organization achieve next-level goals and aspirations.

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HOW TO KEEP PACE WITH INCREASING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS IN A DIGITAL WORLD Chandrashekar LSP Zoho’s Canadian Evangelist Chandrashekar (LSP) is a Zoho evangelist committed to creating and spreading awareness of Zoho. He cut his teeth in the software domain with the WebNMS division of Zoho and has journeyed with the company at its crucial pivot points. LSP is based out of Montreal and holds a masters degree in information systems and applications. As we approach the one-year mark of the pandemic, the economy clearly has undergone a massive shift. Almost every single business no matter the industry - has altered its model to help curb the spread of the virus, which has accelerated digitization and digital transformation in the workplace. In fact, businesses in Canada were set to increase spending on digital transformation by 7% in 2020, according to statistics from IDC.

Increased Customer Expectations in an Increasingly Digital World The rate of today’s digitization will continue beyond the pandemic and the ability to be more agile is more important than ever, as customer service expectations have changed. Businesses will shift their priorities from safety and protection to faster service and flexibility enabled by digital solutions. Customers have become increasingly accustomed to instant and contactless transactions.Research from McKinsey shows that 75% of people who used digital channels for the first time intend to continue using them, even after the pandemic. Additionally, customers increasingly expect a personalized experience - with consistency and ease-of-use - that is driven and strategically informed by data and analytics. According to research from Epsilon, 90% of consumers find personalized experiences appealing, and 80% of them said they are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides it. The businesses that can accommodate these changes in expectations will thrive in the new normal, while those who are unable or unwilling to, are likely to be left behind.

Customer Retention Is King The second major change that has affected businesses has been the financial hit that the economy as a whole has taken, which has brought about its own major changes in consumer behaviour. The spending power of the average Canadian consumer has suffered, which results in a desire to stick with businesses they are familiar with and know they will get their money’s worth from. For the businesses themselves, retaining and selling to their existing customers comes with major cost savings and increased efficiency. In fact, statistics indicate that: It costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. The success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60%-70% compared to 5%-20% for a new customer. Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits anywhere from 25%-95%. Clearly, customer retention and strong client relationships are more vital than ever.

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So, if consumers prefer to stick with businesses they know and those businesses can be more profitable by selling to their existing customer base, what strategy should they use to maintain that relationship? With limited resources and a weakened economy, more companies should be placing a higher emphasis on upselling and cross-selling to existing customers, simply because it is a cheaper and more efficient method for building revenue.

The Modern Customer Relationship Management solution So where can businesses turn to when looking to provide the increasingly digitized and customized services that consumers now expect? How can a business efficiently and strategically cross-sell and upsell to their existing customer base? A modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, such as Zoho CRM - that is driven and informed by data and analytics - can provide businesses with the ability to do all this and much more. In the past, CRMs have been considered the jurisdiction of marketing and sales teams exclusively, but the modern CRM has transformed and grown in sophistication and is now relied on to manage the entire customer experience, spanning your entire organization. The functionality of a modern CRM has wide-ranging features including: Lead, deal, and contact management Omnichannel customer service through channels like email, phone, social, and customer service portals Automated analytical features like data analysis and report building Financial functions like quote and invoice building Automated marketing via customer segmentation, lead nurturing, integrated Google Ads, and event management Cybersecurity through role assignment, permission defining, and access control Innovative data security functionality and data privacy compliance settings

With the abundance of data running through every business nowadays, you can use your CRM to identify market trends and keep pace with rapidly developing customer expectations. And, most importantly, set your business up for future success throughout this pandemic and beyond.

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HYBRID WORK MODEL By Ed Rodriguez Vice-President of Sales and General Manager, Citrix Canada

Edward Rodriguez is the Vice President of Sales and General Manager of Citrix Canada, where he is dedicated to helping Canadian businesses realize a better way to work. With technical knowledge and forward-thinking vision developed over his 20-year career, Edward has refined his expertise in product sales and management, marketing and consulting services with a specific focus on cloud, mobility, virtualization and SaaS. Edward began his career in technical consulting, and in prior roles at Citrix, led teams that focused on emerging markets and channels and brought new products to market. When the pandemic began, many IT managers relied on digital workspaces to give employees secure access to apps and data. But as businesses begin to plan for an eventual post-pandemic future, hybrid work models - in one form or another - are set to take hold. As this model becomes the norm, companies will need to look for ways to improve employee performance while still keeping them engaged and, just as importantly, secure against increased cybersecurity risks. The key to success lies with a digital workspace powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technology.

Automating Repetitive Tasks The current potential of an AI and ML-enabled workspace lies in the significant opportunities to remove the burden of monotonous and repetitive tasks for your employees; acting much like a virtual assistant (VA) within a workspace.

Virtual assistants are set to take off this year. Gartner Inc. recently predicted that by 2021, 25% of digital workers will be using a VA on a daily basis, and this is only set to increase in the future. A 2020 study from Citrix, titled ‘Work 2035’, found that 83% of professionals foresee a future in which technology like VAs will automate repetitive and low-value tasks, freeing employees up for more valuable work. Past uses of VAs were essentially the equivalent to a chatbot. In the near-future, capabilities will allow users to schedule meetings, log new contacts, and automate data collection and data analysis, especially for deeper and more complex data pools. Through deep learning, VAs in a digital workspace will be able to analyze a worker’s decision making with the goal of eventually being able to instantly manage these routine tasks, solve any number of problems, while making the employee’s day more productive.

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Minimizing Distractions and Improving Efficiency Shockingly, employees deal with as many as 11 different apps a day to get their job done. This creates massive inefficiencies that bog down an employee’s workday. Along with the potential to streamline your workforce’s operations through the automation of repetitive tasks, AI and ML, when implemented into a digital workspace, are also able to create efficiency through the ability to guide and focus your employees. By learning usual behaviours and patterns of actions, these technologies will be able to provide suggestions to your employees on how best to structure their day to set themselves up for success, or identify the most optimal tool or combination of tools to achieve the task at hand. Additionally, it can remove distractions by muting notifications during certain times of the day or while working on tasks that require more focus, and by suggesting more streamlined ways to do some of your more inefficient tasks. Employees not only envision such a future being a possibility, they desire it. According to the Citrix Work 2035 study, 79% of professionals stated they would welcome their workspace technology to monitor their work habits and help them improve if it significantly boosted their performance. Being able to provide this to employees during a time when they are forced to work from home - and deal with the many added distractions that come with it - will be invaluable in terms of productivity and achieving a better work/life balance.

Securing the Workforce The reality is that, employees are the first line of defense in preventing potentially devastating cybersecurity attacks. Working from home has added another layer of risk. Employers must now contend with the fact that, as their workforce becomes distributed employees are accessing company data from multiple personal devices and networks - the number of “attack surfaces” is rising. The need for a cybersecurity strategy that can adapt to a range of security scenarios has never been more pronounced. AI and ML-powered workspaces operate at their peak effectiveness when given the time to study and learn the behaviours of whatever operation they are assigned to. While learning a worker’s habits can be very beneficial to eliminating inefficiencies and distractions, it becomes critical for AI-powered cybersecurity to be effective. By understanding a person’s unique behaviour, cybersecurity solutions powered by ML can recognize when something out of the ordinary has occurred and immediately restrict access to company assets, like sensitive data and apps. Ideally, these types of measures are prevented by modifying employee behaviour over time. The power of an ML-enable workspace lies in its ability to predict an outcome and then personalize a set of actions or recommendations based on the user. In a hybrid work model, where employees are distributed across a city, country or the world, ML can provide a customized solution based on the role, seniority and work habits of each employee, ensuring your company is solidly protected on the frontlines.

2021 and Beyond The promise of intelligent products and services to help us live better lives and work more efficiently has been touted for years – with various degrees of success. But it’s important to understand that powerful and advanced intelligent workspace solutions are real and in use today successfully solving a number of pressing business issues. As we continue to push through the pandemic and shift to a new working model, embracing intelligent technologies within work environments will be critical to ensuring your employees are productive, happy and secure.

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DATA PROTECTION With Michael Borromeo VP of Data Protection at Stericycle, provider of Shred-it security solutions

Michael Borromeo has over 16 years of broad and diversified experience in the field of information security and is highly skilled in the areas of data privacy, information governance, policy and regulatory compliance, security architecture, and technical risk assessment. He has led both data privacy program development and assessment engagements across multiple industries, including financial services, consumer markets, telecommunications, and healthcare. Michael is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

You might think small businesses are unlikely targets for cybercriminals but, sadly, this is not the case. Each year, thousands of small companies are victims of phishing, malware, hacking, and other types of cyberattacks. In this interview, we chatted with Michael Borromeo to discuss initiatives small businesses can implement to ensure their data privacy is protected and how can they prepare guidelines for secure storage and destruction of company documents when employees work remotely.

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COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the workforce. More and more companies are now embracing remote work for safety and health measures implemented by the government. Being an expert in

of personal data are being created every day, such as output from medical devices, wearables, appliances, etc. This, in combination with traditional data such as credit card numbers and

the information security field, what would you say is the biggest impact that remote working can have on the security and data protection of a company?

transactions, social insurance numbers, and data created via social media can create an incredibly revealing data footprint for every person.

COVID-19 has changed how and where we work for the foreseeable future, and this abrupt transition to remote work left many businesses underprepared for the unexpected shift. Shred-it’s research has found the risk of security breaches increases significantly when employees work remotely.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a staggering increase in the regularity and severity of data breaches, an expected consequence of this massive growth of data. It can be hard to find someone who hasn’t been impacted by one. In this climate, it’s no wonder more Canadians feel less secure about their data than just 10 years ago.

There are a variety of reasons why remote work can put companies at risk. For one, human error and physical document handling need to be taken into consideration. Many employees rely on printed copies of documents featuring sensitive information to conduct their work, often printing them at home but not disposing of them properly. Shred-it’s 2020 Data Protection Report found that prior to the pandemic, 42% of small businesses did not have any policy in place for storing and disposing of confidential information when employees work away from the office. This increases the risk for data to be seen, stolen, or compromised if left unattended and not properly disposed of. As well, many companies lack regular training on information security procedures or policies, which could lead to more frequent and successful cyberattacks against employees working outside the office environment. The same report found that more than half (64%) of small-to-medium-sized businesses surveyed had no regular training on this issue. Further, companies that don’t provide their employees with the proper technology resources, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) or tools/solutions for securely transmitting sensitive data, are of course more susceptible to breaches. Shred-it’s 2020 Data Protection Report revealed that 55% of Canadians feel less secure about their personal data protection compared to just a decade ago. How would you best explain this issue? What do you believe is the biggest factor that results in Canadians feeling insecure about their personal data being compromised? Consumers expect businesses to keep their personal information safe. In today’s digital economy, new types

Our research found that while consumers accept the reality of data breaches, they take the issue very seriously. In fact, close to 23% would seek compensation and 24% would stop doing business with organizations who experienced a breach. The tech industry is constantly evolving, and new discoveries are being made every day. What advice can you give to entrepreneurs so they can stay current with new IT discoveries that can help them better protect their business from data breaches? Every entrepreneur I know is incredible at juggling multiple responsibilities. A business strategy, finance, marketing, operations – if you can name it, they can do it. It’s how they’re able to successfully turn their business ideas into reality. At the same time, it’s always good to remind yourself that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” It’s impossible to be on top of everything in today’s fast-paced world, particularly when it comes to cyber threats and technology risks, and mistakes happen when you run into situations where you are not an expert. Data breaches can be devasting events for businesses of any size, but smaller operations led by entrepreneurs have fewer options for recovery. My advice to any entrepreneur worried about IT security is to not be afraid to engage outside help.

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What do you believe is the biggest challenge that small business owners face when it comes to data privacy?

2. Make sure employee training is frequent and up to date. Don’t let training be an afterthought. Employee training and continuous reinforcement via

The biggest challenge small businesses face regarding data security is an apparent lack of resources compared to C-suites of larger companies. This can lead small business owners (SBOs) to prioritize other business

awareness campaigns is critical for building and maintaining a strong culture of data protection within an organization.

needs they feel are more urgent.

3. Prepare guidelines for secure storage and destruction of company documents when employees work remotely. Ensure employees have the necessary resources, such as access to a lockable storage cabinet to safely store their printed documents until they can be properly shredded by a National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) certified shredding service provider.

The 2020 Data Protection Report illustrates this disconnect clearly, showing the number of C-suites implementing data privacy practices largely outweighs SBOs who do the same. In addition, SBOs are also the slowest to adopt additional online security measures or other protections, such as cyber insurance. While 70% of C-suites reported having a cyber insurance policy in place to protect against the financial fallout from data breaches, only 28% of SBOs reported the same. These findings are concerning when research shows that small businesses are not immune from the threat of cybercrime and, in fact, maybe more at risk. Other studies have indicated that smaller organizations are more likely to be hit by email threats – including spam, phishing, and email malware – than larger organizations. It’s more important than ever for SBOs to begin prioritizing data security, or risk potential financial and reputational consequences. On a final note, what advice can you give to entrepreneurs that can help them in protecting their data from cyberattacks? What are some of the initiatives they can implement to ensure their data privacy is protected? The good news is there are a variety of initiatives entrepreneurs can take to create a more secure workforce and protect their company from a potential security breach. Below are a few key information security strategies you can begin implementing immediately to improve your company’s risk posture, which will help to increase employee and consumer trust in the process. 1. Implement data protection practices. Having clearcut guidelines for employees to follow on a daily basis, such as a Clean Desk Policy and a Remote Work Policy, reinforces good behaviour and decreases the risk of employees falling victim to scams, such as phishing or malware. Make sure these policies are updated regularly and that employees are adhering to them.

4. Keep digital data and documents as secure as possible. Implement the proper infrastructure and tools to protect employees and access sensitive data, such as the use of VPNs to remotely access networks, encryption for information both in storage and transit, anti-virus, and anti-malware programs, etc. 5. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. As technology threats evolve and become harder to combat, a data breach becomes almost inevitable and as a result, can happen to anyone. Embrace risk planning and develop response plans to help your company identify and remediate issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is key to limiting damage and maximizing recovery.

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It's better to be valued than to sell on value Today’s marketplace is hyper-competitive, and big businesses armed with data, apps, and other technologies are tough to compete with.

It doesn't have to be that way. Before I share my steps, let me ask you these questions about your business:

I have a simple but powerful 3 step strategy for you to fight back and to create a business with purpose and profit. And for the record, I am not a consultant, so I am not looking for clients. I believe that small business owners’ matter. You are the heart of our economy, and it is in our collective interest to your dreams and enterprises beating strong. For the past year, thanks to the support of RBC, I have populated my platform, Chatter that Matters with podcasts and videos to help small business owners get to where they need to go.

1)Is what you offer your customer unique?

Let's get back to this competitive marketplace that you are fighting for a share of, and my 3 steps to show you how.

If you are like most businesses today, you aren't that unique - it's not your fault there is too much and too many competing for a finite amount of demand. If that's the case, then Amazon and others can make a compelling case for Convenience. Click and it will come. 2)Are you finding that you have to sell more of your product or service at a discount?

Amazon, Uber Eats, and many others train the customer

And if price or promotion is becoming a key tactic in attracting and selling, then apps that compare shop and match will eat away your margin.

to be promiscuous and treasure hunters, to use their use apps for game the marketplace. They put the world – products, services, business to business, within arms’ reach of desire and condition the buyer to click and buy, when they do, the faster you can say goodbye.

3)Do you hold a position in your customers' hearts-are you a place they want to be, or someone they want to buy from, or only somewhere to buy?

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This is where you can succeed. An apps connection might be fast and convenient, but it doesn’t have a heart. It doesn’t have an emotional relationship. You do and it is what makes you unique. So how do you strengthen your unique emotional proposition?

‘Understand customer intent and motivation and you will be of immense value.’ Stop segmenting your customer base based on age, gender, ethnicity, and income. Instead, focusing on their intent and motivation. Intent - what does your customer value or dream about, and what is preventing them from realizing it? Motivation - how motivated are they to realize it? Cluster your customers based on these values. Let's say, for example, that you own a cheese shop. Is the customer coming in that door there to buy cheese or accentuate the perfect dinner party they are planning? Are they foodies, looking to highlight that bottle of Pinot Noir, or trying to get more protein in their diet, as they are eating less meat? If you can cluster them by what they value, you can position what you offer accordingly. For the foodie you have some rare Gorgonzola, the dinner party – the perfect crackers and a jar of olives, the wine lover an old cheddar to balance the acidity in the wine.

If you are a Star Wars fan, you are most likely a fan of YODA. He didn't defeat the Evil Empire, but he played an essential role in helping Luke Skywalker with his intent and motivation. What is your YODA role in your customer's life? What quest are they on, and what can you do to help them get to where they need to go? If I was selling real estate, my concern would be the increasing amount of information available to my clients. I no longer have proprietary data on what houses sell for, the market's inventory, walking scores, or the quality of education in the school around the corner.

“Bring numbers to their life” So how do I find my way into my client's heart? I bring those numbers to their life. Instead of selling them a house, I focus on their home. What is their intent? To raise a family, walk and shop locally, and find a dog-friendly neighborhood or one accessible to their aging parents or to invest in a second property? Instead of citing a walking score for someone looking for a neighborhood oasis, I would animate every city block, as no one has walked them more. Be their YODA versus being an agent.

Small Business Owners are passionate and often subject matter experts as many started businesses based on their interests. Someone in professional services is happy to talk about their degrees and experiences, a craft brewer about their Hops, and a repair shop for computers about drives. I have to be honest. I am busy, and I am confused by the amount of choice, so unless you have to say matters to me, you contribute to the noise. Instead of telling your story, focus on mine. Let's imagine that you run a Golf Simulator Shop. It's your passion as you went to school on a full Golf Scholarship. It's also your lucky day as I am looking for some golf lessons, and so is my daughter. We have already talked to three potential Pros. One was a woman who cited her golf scholarship and the successful amateur tournaments they played across the United States. The second one played on the Nike Tour and met some players that we watch today on television. The third had a room full of gadgets they couldn't wait to strap on you. But imagine if you took the time to realize two things. Since my Divorce, my relationship with my daughter had suffered, and I struggled to find something we could share and do together. You talked about a Father-Daughter tournament coming up in eight weeks and a program we could do to prepare us for it. I bet that we would buy the lesson and practice package, and our outfits that day would come from your Pro Shop.

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Final thoughts: If you are still with me, you must think that these three steps are very similar. You are right, as they all have to do with emotion and feeling. The key is to climb these steps in order. 1)Stop segmenting customers and instead identify intent and motivation. What are they trying to do? How serious are they? 2)Identify your Yoda Role 3)Stop Telling your story; become part of theirs Small business owners who are my guide, curator and motivator I reward with my loyalty and business. I talk about them, rate them on Google, and support them. I live in the East End of Toronto, in a neighbourhood called The Beach. There is a tiny Men's Wear Store called Pony Club. Two brothers, Gabe and Angelo, run it. Gabe doesn't sell me suits or shirts; he dresses me for my moments. He knows I do TV, speak to audiences that are sometimes in the thousands, and today make my living on Zoom. He curates my clothes based on what matters to my livelihood. My fish shop knows that I am not afraid to grill raw and expensive Tuna. My bike shop took the time to understand our intent, and we drove away with a tandem bike. Sam, who takes care of us at our local restaurant, knows us by name and insists we taste some of their new wines as part of the experience. And when I owned my agency, I was loyal to the suppliers that had my back. It's always better to be valued than to have to sell on value. And speaking of heart here's to all the small business heroes, stay resilient and strong. Better days are ahead. Subscribe to my podcast at

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Tips for Growing Your Business Network

PEO Leadership offers advice on expanding your circle to grow your business BY Leon Goren President & CEO, PEO Leadership

A business network is often one of the most underutilized tools that leaders can use to grow their business. Many people are aware of networks but may not be sure why they matter or how to go about cultivating a strong one. The good news is that by learning how to harness the power of networks, you can take your business to the next level.

There are many benefits of being involved in a business network to help grow your business, and here are some tips for how to go about doing it:

“Nobody can grow their business all on their own; you need a strong network to help make it happen,” explains Leon Goren, president and chief executive officer of PEO Leadership. “Now more important than ever, building that web of trust, a network of trusted connections, will make all the difference in whether or not you will accelerate through these uncertain times by shaping your business for the new world. To be successful in this ever-changing environment, you need to surround yourself with experienced business leaders who are willing to challenge and be challenged as they all move towards achieving their personal, professional, and organizational growth objectives.”

successful, and ready to help you move forward. The PEO Leadership community, for example, puts people in immediate contact with peer-to-peer leadership.

Having a business network is crucial to overall success and being able to grow your organization. Networks help you obtain fresh ideas, strengthen your connections, provide you with more business knowledge, give you the support you need through tough times, help build confidence, provide different perspectives, and help you get the unbiased answers you need to questions that arise. Additional advantages of having a strong network include the community playing an important role in helping you get noticed, introductions to new opportunities, help in identifying your shortcomings, and how to improve upon them.

Be engaged. Gaining from your network is only going to be possible if you are engaged with it. This means you will need to do some active listening, ask questions, and be ready to carry out some of the advice that may be given to you.

Find your community. Joining a leadership community is a great way to expand your network with high-quality leads. You will immediately gain access to people who are highly experienced,

Make the commitment. Having a network takes commitment. You have to take action to keep the connections alive. This may mean meeting with people, having phone calls, or attending events. Meet lots of people. You may not know who the right people are for your business network, so you need to make an effort to meet a lot of people. Look for business networking groups in your area and attend leadership conferences.

Think long term. Many good relationships take time to build, rather than happening overnight. Meeting someone doesn’t mean that you will gain something right away, but it could mean that sometime down the road, a learning or business opportunity may present itself.

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“At PEO Leadership, we help shape the way leaders lead, learn, and live,” added Goren. “We have created a networking system that helps people reach goals. The most important thing you can do for your business this year is to become a part of something like that so your business can grow for years to come.” PEO Leadership offers an executive leadership community that represents over 100 business leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and top executives. Its services include peer advisory boards, executive coaching, community connections, strategic business tools, an annual leadership conference, and thought leadership events Including PEO Leadership’s ‘The Way Forward’ live webcast and podcast. The company is owned by Leon Goren, who has over 25 years of leadership experience. PEO Leadership offers leadership advisory services for six categories, including presidents/C-suite executives of large national and multinational organizations, entrepreneurs of large national and multinational companies, global executives, small business entrepreneurs, senior executives, and businesses in transition. There is a 60-day free trial Leadership Bootcamp available. To get more information or obtain a free trial, visit the site at: About PEO Leadership PEO Leadership is a Canadian peer-to-peer leadership advisory firm that has been the destination for business leaders to regularly meet and discuss important issues, solve business problems and explore new opportunities since 1991. The organization provides a safe and highly confidential environment, with PEO Executive Advisors, who facilitate stimulating and astute dialogue to leverage the collective experience, creativity, intellect and wisdom of the Peer Advisory Board and the PEO Leadership Community at large. They support, cultivate and accelerate business leaders’ leadership excellence to achieve great impact through the organizations they lead, the communities they serve and the lives they live. Current members include Bayer, Crayola, Nestle and Umbra. For more information about the company and its services, visit the site at:

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4 Reasons Why 2021

Will be the Year of the SME BY Dan Lionello CEO & Co-Founder of Omnae Technologies Inc.

Dan Lionello is the Chief Executive Officer and CoFounder of Omnae Technologies Inc.

Reason 1: SMEs are more adaptable

Dan’s wealth of manufacturing intelligence is grounded in more than three decades of hands-on experience in outsourced and in-house manufacturing.


Throughout his executive career, he has led teams in business development, marketing, innovation and customer journey optimization. Dan has built, operated and strategically advised multiple businesses from early-stage to multi-million dollar scale. He has held seats on over a dozen global Entrepreneurs' Organization boards for 25 years where he serves as a mentor and leader.

In today’s interconnected and technology-reliant society, digital tools are not only accepted but required for efficient communications and project management in business. Especially in the manufacturing and supply chain, the push to automate and consistently innovate will open up significant opportunities for smaller, more nimble and agile companies to adapt to rapidly changing markets. This year, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are in a unique position to adopt new innovative tools that will allow a level of growth that has never been possible before. In fact, a recent study found that small businesses who used apps to help them manage their business - i.e. to streamline finances, monitor cash flow in real-time, etc - before COVID-19 saw a 12 percent smaller revenue decline than those who didn’t. Below are my top four reasons why I believe SMEs are poised to rise above the challenges of 2020 by using the right innovative strategies to dominate the next year and beyond.

and can react quickly to market

Bigger isn’t always better. Due to their small size and simple structure, SMEs inherently possess a greater capacity to quickly adapt to new market conditions. Reduced layers of red tape also allow direct relationship building with customers and important stakeholders. This allows decisionmakers to understand market variations before their larger competitors who are often hindered by multiple complex layers of management. In most large enterprises, decisions that impact innovation and strategic direction can often take longer due to the higher number of people required for signoff and rigid processes in place. In contrast, decision-making in most SMEs typically falls to one person or a few key leadership members. This inherently increases agility by making faster resolutions than large enterprises that “… often require complex decision-making mechanisms involving a lot of people and teams.”

Reason 2: Communication is easier for both internal partners and employees, as well as external clients Within a smaller organization, company stakeholders are able to more easily and efficiently communicate across the company. This allows for new ideas and innovations to flow freely and for collaborative problem solving to happen within internal teams. Crossfunctional working groups, who rely on subject matter experts to share tasks, allow for increased performance and improvements with teamwork.

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Greater proximity to management and maintaining a broader strategic vision of operations allows both external and internal stakeholders to better understand and connect with organizational objectives. This has been proven to both increase motivation as well as productivity with internal partners as well as employees through stronger trust-based relationships.

Reason 3: Small and medium-sized businesses are better for the economy SMEs are big accelerators for local economies. With lower investment costs, smaller organizations have been found to “… lower poverty in communities by offering meaningful employment to locals in addition to enhancing the standard of living.” Investing in innovation, local technologies and developing new products or services can also contribute to the prosperity of surrounding areas through increased employment opportunities. By creating jobs that employ local talent, SMEs better ensure prosperity remains within communities aiding in the improvement and/or stabilization of local economies amid global economic uncertainty.

Reason 4: More opportunities for expansion and growth SMEs can often scale faster than large enterprises by adopting proven technologies and processes of larger organizations. Small, nimble startups are often important sources of innovation due to their entrepreneurial culture and innate adaptability. A July 2020 study found, “because they [SMEs] are unhindered by legacy systems and outdated strategies, new market entrants are often able to rethink established practices and cut through traditional industry boundaries.” Innovative SMEs will often also have a greater capability to both detect and satisfy customer needs quickly. Market segments that have particular pain points may be overlooked by larger organizations due to a niche customer base being perceived as too small to be profitable.

In Conclusion In 2021, an SME’s high level of adaptability, communication strengths, ability to invigorate their local economy, and room for substantial growth will give them the advantage over larger, less nimble enterprises. I also believe that, by implementing a foundation of technology into SME supply chains, smaller manufacturers and retailers alike can more easily create intelligent strategies that will allow them to grow in ways they’ve never seen before.

About Omnae Omnae is a collaborative cloud-based Supply Chain Management (SCM) platform that empowers businesses to organize their supply chains, simplify their processes, and continuously improve product quality.

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WHAT CANADIAN BUSINESSES NEED TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN MIGRATING TO THE CLOUD IN 2021 By Estelle Azemard, VP Americas, OVHcloud The acceleration of digital transformation across public and private sectors prompted by the global events of the past year has been significant, no matter the industry.

and they need to look to implement tailored cloud solutions that rely on dedicated and isolated environments, which offer a consistent level of performance, availability and reliability. Canadians are looking to businesses to handle their data in a safe

However, there is a silver lining: these industries are now better positioned to take advantage of increased business agility and productivity.

and reliable manner, and the businesses that internalize this and act on their customers’ desires will gain consumer trust.

While Canadians are adjusting to the new way of working, businesses are realizing that a fundamental move to the cloud will play a key role in the next step of this worldwide transformation. However, some – particularly small – businesses have been forced to jump headfirst into the cloud without necessarily knowing what things to look for in choosing a cloud service provider. These businesses need to keep a few key factors in mind when moving to the cloud. These include knowing the importance of data privacy, the benefits of implementing sustainable alternatives, and the importance of using AI and machine learning. By understanding these considerations, businesses looking to migrate to the cloud in 2021, no matter what their size, can prosper. Businesses need to understand that data privacy and security is central to any cloud strategy In Canada – with the recent proposed Digital Charter Implementation Act – a strong stake was pushed into the ground regarding the importance of data privacy, residency, and individual rights. Canadians want more control over their personal data. Business owners need to ensure that their cloud-based applications are hosted in the most secure way,

Businesses need to understand that there is an expectation from Canadians for sustainable alternatives to energy use post-pandemic Even before the pandemic hit, the environment was top of mind for Canadians, and it was for federal government as well, with its Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. As more businesses look to continue their migration to the cloud – generating more data-, investments in renewable energy sources, cooling technologies and circular economy will be expected from the data centre industry to lower energy consumption. The business owner who understands that when they’re choosing a cloud service provider who takes its carbon footprint seriously, they’re again acting in accordance with the expectations of their customers– and in the best interest of the planet, as well. Businesses need to understand the benefits of implementing AI and machine learning analytics Constant data flow represents an opportunity for businesses to extract insights using AI and machine learning. However, utilizing the value of data still presents challenges: data science resources are limited, and finding the right skillset for the job is often difficult and costs can spiral (especially at the SMB level). Businesses looking for a cloud service provider should turn to those that provide complete portfolios of easy-to-use and powerful AI solutions, as they will help fill these resource gaps and create a business advantage. In conclusion, as businesses look to adapt to the swift increase of digital transformation and keep up with demand from their growing online customer bases, they will need to keep their cloud capabilities – and who provides these services – top of mind. That comes with the need to consider a cloud provider that takes into consideration data privacy, increased sustainability and AI and machine learning, all of which are key to ensuring resiliency – and ultimately momentum – in the year ahead.

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Management Consultant | Business & Technology journalist

There is a plethora of leadership theories and models that attempt to consider leadership as an enabler of firm performance. There is an increased emphasis on the important role of leaders when interacting with followers and stakeholders.Transactional leadership involves determining the tasks, rewarding goal achievement and punishing failure in attaining goals. Transactional leadership style is a new performance paradigm evident in SMEs today. Understanding this dimension from a transactional leadership and performance paradigm may provide a significant realization bridging this important field of leadership and management.

Transactional leadership is successful in developing mutual exchange between leaders and employees in SMEs. This leadership form actually assumes impersonal interactions in reality where leaders do not consider higher humanistic desires or relationships between leaders and followers. This form of leadership is still based on grounded theory that does not explore a desired probable situation. While it has its limitations it is still widely used in SMEs. This leadership style is so popular among practicing managers today. Transactional leadership is linked with organizational effectiveness, particularly in terms of achieving goals.

Another aspect of the transactional leadership style is that managers using this style are passive by exception or laissez-faire when applying leadership. Laissez-faire is characterized through managing the situation where a problem has occurred, and leaders take a reactive approach to correct mistakes or to overcome problems. Transactional leaders do advocate for knowledge sharing and joint problem solving with subordinates. Laissez-faire leaders do not possess high commitment in seeking the proposed solutions jointly with their subordinates. When such leaders assume the responsibility or intervention to solve problems, they rarely consider the empowerment of their employees to assist in problem solving and goal setting. To overcome this obstacle, leaders today should empower followers to engage in problem solving. Therefore, transactional leadership can be used to review tasks and goals and requirements of subordinates. Leaders would begin using transactional leadership to set goals and determine tasks and then, when time allows, move toward more transformational leadership and place more emphasis more empowered to engage followers. This supports this approach for leadership to generated two sides of an X and Y axis. On one side is the concept of leadership that creates change through taking a process-oriented (transformational leadership) and the other as more of a relationship-oriented approach (transactional leadership). Thus, transactional leadership does affect organizational performance through achieving business goals. Transformational leadership provides a frank appellation of the importance when beginning a leader-follower relationship, downsizing, upsizing, onboarding, and making significant changes to structure and organizational improvements but leaders must be aware of its limitations. Just as leaders need to be both autocratic and democratic at times they also need to be both transactional and transformational at times also. Knowing both styles and when is best to use them is the important concern here and will defunct the myth of transactional leadership as being an adequate style of leading in and of itself.

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Consumers’ Digital-First Mindset Influenced by Shopping Habits and Desire for Convenience JEAN TREADWELL Director, Marketing and Business Operations and Ontario Site Leader at McAfee Jean Treadwell serves as Director of Business & Marketing Operations and Ontario Site Leader with McAfee. She has held strategic, intelligence, finance and operational leadership roles. She has been in technology for over twenty years because of its societal relevance and is passionate about the responsible innovation happening within the security landscape. Investing in technology can be a challenge for entrepreneurs. But if done properly, information and communications technology (ICT) can be a game-changer for your business. In this interview, we chatted with Jean Treadwell to discuss how important is it for businesses to embrace technology in this challenging time and what are the benefits as well as risks involved in investing in online technology.

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, entrepreneurs have embraced technology as a way to gain more customers and keep their business afloat. As Director of Business & Marketing Operations at McAfee, why do you believe it’s crucial for business owners to invest in online technology? How do you believe it can benefit them? It is crucial for business owners to invest in online technologies because consumers expect and depend on the ability to interact and transact digitally. By enabling these interactions safely and free from the threat of cybersecurity breaches Canadian businesses can meet their customers where and how they live. Our 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Report showed that the pace of Canadian consumer adoption of technology is rapidly growing. We’ve seen an increase in the activity’s consumers are using technology for- from doctors’ appointments to food delivery services. Over the past year, we have also changed the way we use technology when engaging in online activities, with 70% of the people in Canada admitting that they have adopted new activities out of convenience. Canadian expect that these digital activities will remain part of our routines even after social distancing and stay-at-home recommendations/restrictions are lifted, and they need to make sure they are taking the necessary steps to stay protected.

Studies have shown that the more time businesses and consumers spend online, the greater the risk of being a victim of cyberattacks. Why do you believe that is? I believe it because we have seen the patterns and the data. Hackers are looking to take advantage and are monitoring consumers’ behaviours and tendencies to find new entry points to take advantage of. In fact, our McAfee Labs team found an almost 12% increase in online threats per minute in Q2 2020 compared to the previous quarter. The complete digital shift is new territory for everyone, and all businesses and consumers are doing their best to protect data from cybercriminals and increased threats. Specifically from a consumer perspective, it is important to stay educated about the risks associated with our online activity and engage in a few key cybersecurity best practices. We are doing our best to connect with our partners and customers to make sure they have the information to protect themselves and their loved ones, such as:

Consumers should only respond to messages that originate from email addresses and senders they recognize. They can hover over links before clicking on them, to see if the URL address is legitimate. Consumers should always be sure the web address is correct before attempting to log in to an online account since hackers often forge legitimate websites with the hopes of tricking users into compromising their login details. You’ve been in the tech industry for over two decades. What has been the biggest change you’ve witnessed in cybersecurity throughout the years? How has it evolved? For me, two of the biggest changes have been consumers’ awareness of risks and the need for protection. When I first got into the industry, the conversations around breaches and security risks were somewhat new. Now, there seems to be something new every day. With more advancements in technology and more activities online, everything has shifted- especially in the last year. As consumers, we’re working, socializing, maintaining our lives online, and for businesses, it is imperative that they reach and interact with their customers and partners digitally. Hackers are following the money- and our personal information and data are invaluable to them more than ever before.

On a final note, what advice can you give to entrepreneurs when it comes to protecting their business from cyberthreats? What initiatives should they be implementing to ensure the protection of their data and avoid cyberattacks? It is important that people take the time to stay aware and educated about the risks out there. As we all shift to a more connected world, so do hackers- and their methods change and advance just as our technologies do. The first step for consumers to protect themselves is realizing that there’s a lot they can do to stay safe online by being of their actions and potential risks- from the apps, they install to the websites they click on, to the emails they open. Be sure to enable two-factor authentication, connect to VPN when you’re on public Wi-Fi and ensure you have holistic protection to protect yourselves and your loved ones.

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Rob Townsend

CEO of Camber Wealth Management

Rob Townsend represents the future of financial advice. His vision for helping Canadians achieve independent financial wealth has come to fruition with the establishment of Camber, an independent wealth management firm serving high net worth Canadians. Camber creates financial dashboards so people can visualize complex finances all in one place and be empowered to make smarter financial decisions. Rob has twelve years of wealth management experience with two dominant global firms, Richardson GMP and BMO Nesbitt Burns. While there, he became frustrated with the old way of doing things and knew there had to be a better way to serve the financial needs of Canadians. Rob is the CEO of Camber, a Chartered Investment Manager, and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Saskatchewan, followed by a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Calgary. Rob continues his interest in the academic world and Camber has forged a partnership with data science students at the University of Calgary to help build the dashboard's proprietary assumption engine. Rob has established a small, but dynamic, team at Camber and is joined by two of his former colleagues from Richardson GMP. Lucas MacMillan is the firm’s Certified Financial Planner and Jamie Clements is an Associate.

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the financial pressures it has caused have brought a new sense of urgency to some goals while posing different challenges and presenting new opportunities.

Camber is piloting proprietary technology to digitize the financial planning process, can you share a few thoughts on this technology with our readers?

In this interview, we chatted with Rob Townsend, to discuss few simple tips and easy strategies to help people deal with the financial challenges the pandemic has presented and how

Typically, when you see your financial planner, you leave with a thick binder that nobody reads and it sits on a shelf and collects dust. That’s what

Camber Wealth Management is helping Canadians who are re-assessing financial goals during COVID-19?

I call the “old school” method. I wanted to modernize the financial

As a Founder and CEO of Camber, can you tell us a little bit about how you started, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?

planning process - make it a more valuable and engaging experience for our clients. We want them to get excited about their finances. So, we’ve created the Camber dashboard, the next evolution of the financial plan which presents the information in a “gamified” way. Most of us are familiar with the Apple Watch, right? Well, we present your finances in a similar way, encouraging good financial behaviours like sticking to your savings rate and utilizing registered accounts (RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs). We also have areas that bring to life your cash flow, net worth, and overall financial health as it stands current and into the future. There’s even a section that tracks the latest update to your will and insurance.

I owe a lot to my Uncle Rob who inspired me to choose finance as a career path. He was an incredible mentor and, in fact, he paid for my Canadian Securities Course and told me that if I failed, I would owe him the $800. Needless to say, I passed and went on to study finance at the University of Saskatchewan and received my Masters of Public Policy from the University of Calgary. I spent 11 years working as an Investment Advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burns and Richardson GMP. About a year and a half ago, I decided it was time to go out on my own and build something new from the ground up. I wanted to approach personal finance differently than the big banks and teach people to put the focus on the “personal” side of personal finance. That’s how Camber was born. I think the biggest challenge was making that decision to leave a very comfortable corporate position to venture out on my own. It can be scary, but it’s been worth it and I haven’t looked back. According to a Coping with COVID survey from FP Canada, four in ten Canadians say the pandemic has impacted their financial stress levels. How is Camber helping Canadians who are re-assessing financial goals during COVID-19? We are always helping our clients re-assess their financial goals, but we do find the pandemic has brought a lot more clarity to people. It has put into perspective what really matters. People are asking themselves the tough questions - do I like my job, should I retire, do we need a bigger/smaller house, can I afford a vacation property? We can help them determine if they’re ready to pursue those financial goals and dreams and, if they’re not ready, how can we help get them there.

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As a Founder and CEO of Camber, can you tell us a little bit about how you started, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it? I owe a lot to my Uncle Rob who inspired me to choose finance as a career path. He was an incredible mentor and, in fact, he paid for my Canadian Securities Course and told me that if I failed, I would owe him the $800. Needless to say, I passed and went on to study finance at the University of Saskatchewan and received my Masters of Public Policy from the University of Calgary. I spent 11 years working as an Investment Advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burns and Richardson GMP. About a year and a half ago, I decided it was time to go out on my own and build something new from the ground up. I wanted to approach personal finance differently than the big banks and teach people to put the focus on the “personal” side of personal finance. That’s how Camber was born. I think the biggest challenge was making that decision to leave a very comfortable corporate position to venture out on my own. It can be scary, but it’s been worth it and I haven’t looked back. According to a Coping with COVID survey from FP Canada, four in ten Canadians say the pandemic has impacted their financial stress levels. How is Camber helping Canadians who are re-assessing financial goals during COVID-19? We are always helping our clients re-assess their financial goals, but we do find the pandemic has brought a lot more clarity to people. It has put into perspective what really matters. People are asking themselves the tough questions - do I like my job, should I retire, do we need a bigger/smaller house, can I afford a vacation property? We can help them determine if they’re ready to pursue those financial goals and dreams and, if they’re not ready, how can we help get them there. Camber is piloting proprietary technology to digitize the financial planning process, can you share a few thoughts on this technology with our readers? Typically, when you see your financial planner, you leave with a thick binder that nobody reads and it sits on a shelf and collects dust. That’s what I call the “old school” method. I wanted to modernize the financial

planning process - make it a more valuable and engaging experience for our clients. We want them to get excited about their finances. So, we’ve created the Camber dashboard, the next evolution of the financial plan which presents the information in a “gamified” way. Most of us are familiar with the Apple Watch, right? Well, we present your finances in a similar way, encouraging good financial behaviours like sticking to your savings rate and utilizing registered accounts (RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs). We also have areas that bring to life your cash flow, net worth, and overall financial health as it stands current and into the future. There’s even a section that tracks the latest update to your will and insurance.

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One area that most of our clients get excited about is the “Scenarios” section, where we run different “what ifs” to

Can you share a few simple tips and easy strategies to help people deal with the financial challenges the pandemic has presented?

test out an individual or family’s biggest fears and dreams. It helps contextualize what is important to focus on and what isn’t and helps clients make informed financial decisions. The scenarios are 100% customizable to the

My first piece of advice would be to concentrate more on the areas of personal finance that are in your control - watch spending, follow the basic

Can you tell us more about the Camber Dashboard?

client’s situation, but some popular ones are: What happens if I increase my spending?

rules of intelligent investing, and determine an investment strategy you can stick with. That is the important stuff instead of worrying about how your individual stocks did that day.

What happens if I have a career change/retire early? What happens if I change my asset allocation? What happens if my investment growth = inflation (2%)? What happens if 2008 market returns happened next year?

Get educated about the fees you’re paying Many Canadians get locked into high fee products when there are less expensive options available.

Prioritize tax planning One of the best ways to do this is to use your registered accounts (ex. TFSA or RRSP) wisely and consistently each year.

Less is more when it comes to investing We also call this a “passive” approach to investing. Essentially, slow and steady is a smart investing philosophy versus high-risk and high reward.

Understand your finances Don’t be afraid to ask questions, that’s what your financial planner is for. And, start using online tools (like the Camber dashboard) that make it easy for you to set goals and feel confident about your finances. Send me an email or get started here.

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IS YOUR COMPANY SUSTAINABLE? Self-Audit Can Help You Transform and Thrive in these Challenging Times Regardless of where your company or organization is right now, 2021 is going to force you to focus on sustainability more than ever before. The uncertainty and stress of numerous threats requires the creation of new management initiatives and decision-making processes to assure survival, growth, and development in the coming year. Abrar Ansari, business strategist and author of Management by Intent – The Five Principles, says that there are five steps to deploying a strategic framework: 1.Establish the case for building a sustainable business. 2.Conduct a detailed assessment to identify the difference between the current state and desired future state.

Abrar Ansari Author & Business Transformation Coach

3.Identify metrics for every key element needed to track the progress towards the desired outcomes. 4.Create a roadmap for every key element to identify the actions needed to reach the desired outcomes. 5.Develop and deploy the systems necessary to effect the changes needed. Management awareness and commitment at all levels of an organization is needed to identify the capabilities required to achieve and protect the sustainable economic practices discovered along the way.

Executive Level: Overseeing the corporate policy implementation for fulfilling all the stakeholders' expectations. Governance includes, discharging of: Financial, Legal, Ethical and Social responsibilities.

Operational levels: Commitment and utilization of corporate resources for sustainable growth and development by creating competitive advantage through research, innovation and development of intellectual capital.

Management by Intent Sustainability – Self-Audit It is not hard for an organization to do a quick high-level assessment of how well sustainability is embedded in the organization. Even the most basic analysis will act os as a good starting point if you are in need of a course correction.

There are five key issues that you need to focus on to evaluate the sustainability of your effects, your people, organization, culture and the products and services you provide. These are the pillars of your economic engine. Improving each of these will push you onto a path that enables you to succeed economically and gain the support and trust of everyone you engage and serve.

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Circle where and how your organization functions right now. ISSUE 1: SAFEGUARDING HUMAN LIFE

Level 3:

Organizational leadership support and accountability translates into targeted training and communication efforts for inducing diversity and parity.

Level 5:

Do you identify and effectively deal with anything that threatens human life?

Organization culture fosters well-being, that addresses the need of the whole person through a focus on the physical, financial, emotional and social aspects.

1.No, rarely to not at all.


2.Sometimes but not usually. 25 percent of the time. 3.Moderate – half the time. 4.Most of the time – 75 percent of the time. 5.Yes, all the time, all our people, everywhere, every time.

Level 1 -

Organization solely relies on policy directives to protection of the safety and well-being of its employees.

Level 3:

Organizational leadership is engaged in building awareness and advocacy to promote a culture of health and safety excellence.

Level 5:

Organization goes beyond its boundaries to protect communities it serves, and the species that are affected by its operations from any harm that threatens their existences.

ISSUE 2: PRESERVATION OF DIGNITY Do you identify and effectively deal with anything that threatens human dignity? 1.No, rarely to not at all. 2.Sometimes but not usually. 25 percent of the time. 3.Moderate – half the time. 4.Most of the time – 75 percent of the time. 5.Yes, all the time, all our people, everywhere, every time.

Level 1 -

Organization has programs and initiatives on paper, highlighting the commitment to inclusivity and equity

Do you safeguard the rationality of your purpose and the related behaviours that result from it? 1.No, rarely to not at all. 2.Sometimes but not usually. 25 percent of the time. 3.Moderate – half the time. 4.Most of the time – 75 percent of the time. 5.Yes, all the time, all our people, everywhere, every time.

Level 1 -

Organization has a code of conduct, including rules, beliefs, values, and expectations in place for compliance purposes

Level 3:

Organizational leadership proactively participates in the decision-making process to evaluate all critical business risks and opportunities consistently.

Level 5:

Organization leadership behavior is evaluated and incentivized based on the impact they create in preserving life, dignity, reason, wealth, and future.

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ISSUE 4: PRESERVATION OF WEALTH Do you focus your efforts on the holistic financial wellness of your system? 1.No, rarely to not at all. 2.Sometimes but not usually. 25 percent of the time.

Level 3:

Environmental protection, human health, and climate change are top strategic priorities.

Level 5:

The organization is publicly committed to resourcing substantial amounts of time, effort and money to fight many of the pressing environmental and social challenges we face today.

3.Moderate – half the time.


4.Most of the time – 75 percent of the time.

Do you commit to the conservation of natural resources, natural habitats, and biodiversity of the earth for the continual benefit of all living beings?

5.Yes, all the time, all our people, everywhere, every time.

Level 1 -

Organizational leadership and management team is rewarded for reaching their profitability targets.

Level 3:

Employee benefits, some profit-sharing for middle tier management, and charitable giving are structured programs which organizational leadership supports as avenues for wealth redistribution.

Level 5:

Management sacrifices profit margins to support workforce and community upliftment. The business pays its full share of taxes equitably; without taking undue advantage of any offshore tax sheltering.

ISSUE 5: PRESERVATION OF THE FUTURE Do you commit to the conservation of natural resources, natural habitats, and biodiversity of the earth for the continual benefit of all living beings? 1.No, rarely to not at all. 2.Sometimes but not usually. 25 percent of the time. 3.Moderate – half the time. 4.Most of the time – 75 percent of the time. 5.Yes, all the time, all our people, everywhere, every time.

Level 1 -

Organizational vision and mission are preserved in statements prescribing environmental and social rules, principles, values, and expectations

5 to 10 – Poor – Get started right now 10 to 15 – Minimal – Make major improvements 15 to 20 – Average – Improve everything 20 to 25 – Above average – Keep growing and doing what you are doing 25 – Amazing – Be the best leader you can possibly be

Management by Intent in Practice IT IS THE character of the leadership that shapes the organization’s value system, just like the tenacity and the intensity of the wind that shapes the dunes in the desert. If a leader’s character is grounded in an ethical and moral code of conduct, infused with a deep understanding of these five key principles, the end result leads to clarity of purpose, and outcomes that are tied to safeguarding the general public interest of all. It is a worthy quest that can achieve meaningful results. When the principles are applied judiciously throughout an organization decision-making process, they become a driving force in refocusing an organization’s entire mindset from short-term earnings into a broader and more balanced growth strategy; one dedicated to the cause of preventing harm and promoting good.

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OVHcloud Start-Up Program opens up to scaleups for its 2020 edition Malgorzata Ratajska-Grandin Startup Program Director at OVHcloud

After a successful 4 years effectively supporting over 2000 startups around the world, the newly named "OVHcloud Startup Program" relaunches in 2020 and marks the start of an improved program. Startups who join the 1-year program will receive specific tech support and credits on OVHcloud products right from the getgo. Together with a strong ecosystem of business partners, the OVHcloud startup Program provides reliability and security to innovative businesses, helping you facilitate exponential, and international growth. Małgorzata Ratajska-Grandin is a Global Leader at OVHcloud Startup Program. Previous to this role, Małgorzata held the position of President of Carrots Foundation, an international non-profit organization whose main mission is to attract women to the tech sector. She co-founded a mobile health startup Yagram Health. In 2017 she was rewarded with the title Innovator under 35by MIT Technology Review for the mobile app dedicated to mums-to-be. She received her M.A. in Political Sciences from Warsaw University, she studied at Sciences Po Paris and received a French Government fellowship for her second Master at Université Panthéon-Sorbonne. In 2018 was nominated for the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program for Women Leaders in STEAM, in which she represented Poland. Małgorzata is a mother of two wonderful girls Zofia and Julia. With a strong presence in Canada since 2011, OVHcloud is a global and leading European cloud provider operating 400,000 servers in its own 30 data centres in 4 continents.

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Cloud computing provides access to business data and applications from anywhere, at any time, on any mobile device—all at a reasonable price when compared with the cost of hosting servers in-house. In this interview, we chatted with Malgorzata Ratajska-Grandin, to learn more about the OVHCloud Startup Program and what is the main motive behind its’ launch where she also discussed challenges small businesses face when it comes to understanding cloud tech

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to our audience? I joined OVHcloud in January and before this role, held a variety of positions that broadened my skill set. I started my career in Brussels at the heart of the European Union and was in charge of entrepreneurship and innovation. After holding this position for a few years, I wanted to expand from this macro-level role of policy. I’m a builder at heart and, being an entrepreneur, I love – as we call in Brussels – “the golden page” of jumping into a true adventure, which was my start-up in the mobile house sector. At this stage, I also became a Mom which I felt helped me hone on patient and engagement channels for this very specific field. I loved it a lot. My startup took four years and it was a rollercoaster of emotions along with the highs and the lows. We won accolades, we did an exciting commercial development, but we also had failed. I think reflecting on your downfalls is very important in the life of an entrepreneur and then at a certain stage, it was important for us to stop that. It was around the end of 2017 when we didn’t close the investment. At that point, I had all this important experience that I learned over the four years of building my startup and I took another position – in the women empowerment sectors – the role of Leader of the Community of Women in Tech. My experience here was not for nothing as I felt there is still a lot to do in this sector. I was Managing Director for over two years and felt that my mission was very well defined and so when I reached my goals within the role, I decided to move forward. Which is how I arrived at OVHcloud. Last year has been a very interesting year, one that none of us have seen in a lifetime. What would you say is the one word that you would use to describe this year so far and what is the one word you would use to describe how you feel about the future? I agree, 2020 has been a year that no one could imagine, and I think that even though it presented its challenges, it was a year of opportunities as well. I’m optimistic when it comes to

the future. Across all sectors. we need to move forward as a society. We can focus on the difficult transformation that has happened or we can choose to look at the events of the past year as an opportunity for new businesses to emerge stronger than ever. For example, at OVHCloud we’ve had the perspective of needing to support this difficult transformation and the small and medium enterprises with the challenges related to scaling and data privacy – there is a mission to be accomplished by SMBs and we can be here to support this.

It sounds like OVHCloud has completely fallen into the hands of technologists and businesses. Can you share a few examples of the core services that OVHCloud provides? We are a cloud provider that supports more than 1.6 million customers across the globe. We deliver cloud infrastructures around three services including our bare metal service, private cloud and public cloud, which we also call the hybrid cloud. Recently we launched a range of web hosting offers in Canada with domain names – which could be very important to efficient design for online visibility for small and medium businesses such as e-tailers or web agencies or software houses.

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What exactly is the OVHCloud Startup Program and what is the main motive behind its’ launch? The startup program is similar to an accelerator and we are here to support startups in their journey to become successful companies. We deliver every credit to DC infrastructures to private and public cloud and we also support those companies in their business development – creating bridges between industries and between our customers, enabling them to gain new markets. The startup program was launched nearly five years ago and so far, we have supported over 1,000 startups across the globe, investing over $6 million Euros. In 2020, we relaunched the program with new energy and revamped value for the position and created two customer journeys for startups and scale-ups enabling them better growth and better market access.

Can you tell me how the OVHCloud startup program benefits Canadian startups? While we operate in Canada and programs are open for Canadian startups, we are not fully deployed yet in Canada. Canadian startups, however, can apply to our program. As a member of our program, you receive access to credits for infrastructures, support and software to optimize your infrastructure and the use of our product and services along with communication and marketing opportunities that we create through the online webinars or conferences or other use cases published. We have also deployed a committee to a commitment platform and have the commitment to be in contact with other peers and the community of members who also use the startup program which could be very useful for business development.

You mentioned how businesses have to apply so can you tell me how businesses would apply to the OVHcloud Startup Program? Signing up is very simple, all you have to do is go on our website at and there’s an application form to fill in. We commit to reviewing within five working days and are agile as a team and the process is straightforward. Then we need to validate the contract once you are accepted and you are a member of the program already.

In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you think is the toughest obstacle for small businesses in Canada to overcome when it comes to understanding cloud tech? I would say there are two core challenges that have been a core need of focus during COVID-19. The first is the challenge to maintain long-term operations and the second is to scale infrastructure and online presence accordingly. These challenges were further emphasized in the findings of our survey done in partnership with Maru/Blue. I think that conquering these hurdles is possible in collaboration with OVHCloud as we are delivering the strategic advice for optimization on infrastructure choice or solution of products to reach and overcome these obstacles.

As COVID-19 has caused major shifts in consumer behaviour and these shifts are affecting how small businesses operate, the low-tech economy and virtual remote environment are accelerating the need for digital transformation. What areas of their business models should small businesses look to digitize and what role is your organization playing in this transformation? I think that the top priority for small and medium businesses is to identify those obstacles they face in scaling their infrastructure or, depending on the businesses, areas you are operating in. For example, if you are a health tech startup and are dealing with sensitive data, you need to take into consideration the legislation and how to well protect your data and guarantee the sovereignty of it – which is different than if you are an e-retailer preparing for Black Friday. There are different elements to take into consideration and different models in different contexts, so I would say that it is very important to prepare your platform for scalability. The second is to be sure that the service you deliver to your customers/users is meeting the highest standards of data protection sovereignty and the infrastructure you are using is secure and

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certified for that. Finally, that your business is prepared for resilience – consistently operating for resilience. Regarding OVHcloud, what was the effect that COVID-19 had on the company and what would you say has been the most hectic challenge that you faced? As a company, we are facing the same challenges as other sectors. First, the challenge of guaranteeing the security of our employees – we changed our method of operation to cater to remote workers along with catering to employees who still had to handle elements of the business that were not remote such as DC (data centre) workers. On that front, because we needed to guarantee and maintain the continuity of our business delivery to our customers, we were able to quickly push a lever for over 3,000 people to work remotely and guarantee this integration of the operating model through the perfection of servers in Canadian data center’s to over 800 servers in the weeks following the start of the pandemic. We not only achieved our goals but overcame them. The takeaway being that each crisis is extremely important, and we need to look at it with the lens of supporting the transformation of the economy to work with a more digital-based model that better serves customers and shifts.

Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share with our audience? Be strong and continue to innovate – OVHcloud is here to support you in your journey and support the freedom for innovation.

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Four Little Fixes to Kick-Start Your

Digital Transformation Howard Tiersky CEO, President and Founder The Digital Transformation Agency

The digital transformation of our world is roaring full steam ahead. Are you on the train? While disruptor companies are born ready to serve the needs of today’s digital customer, “legacy” organizations find reinventing their brand experience is a long, arduous journey. It can take years.

Ferret out experience glitches that might be turning off customers. Almost every company has these types of seemingly small digital glitches in user experience that add up over time to form an impression. This becomes even more problematic when a digital disruptor offers your customers a new, shiny, digital journey that has avoided these types of flaws.

But don’t despair: Howard Tiersky, author of the new Wall Street Journal bestseller Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance, says there are some small changes you can make right now that may not outright delight your customer…but will at least minimize their aggravation.

“A few years ago, United Airlines asked me for my feedback on a flight,” says Tiersky. “Nice idea, but the first line of the email read: REPLIES TO SURVEY@UNITED.COM ARE NOT MONITORED. When I kept reading, I found that lower in the message, it provided a link for me to take a survey. Clearly, they wanted my feedback; they just didn’t want the feedback via email. But the execution sent the wrong message: ‘Tell us about your recent flight! Be we aren’t actually listening to your response!’”

Some problems are tough to fix, but some aren’t. So, start with those. “These quick fixes may not get your customers to outright love your brand,” concedes Tiersky. “But, if you can identify some things you are doing that confuse, frustrate, or disappoint your customers that you can just stop, that’s a step in the right direction. “Taking these small steps might deliver quick, measurable, sustainable financial improvements, which can demonstrate to key executives that your overall transformation program is capable of driving tangible business impact,” says Tiersky. “This can help you garner funding. Second, you improve your customers’ experience, which improves brand perception and demonstrates progress. ”The bottom line is that customers today have very high expectations, notes Tiersky. If you currently have a weak user experience, it pays to address it now rather than months or years into your digital transformation. Here are some tips for getting started.

Get your wording right. HubSpot did a study of over 40,000 “call-to-action buttons for email sign-ups.” They found that if the text of a button read, “Click Here,” site visitors were three times more likely to click than if it read “Register.”1 Of course, that doesn’t mean that every button on your site should be labelled “Click Here,” but merely points to the importance of getting the wording right. Proof your website (or lose customers!). Give your website and any materials you send or publish a careful review. A few seemingly careless errors or inconsistencies can cause your potential customers to lose faith in you. “We worked with one client selling very expensive ‘sixfigure’ B2B solutions that had a website that was good in many ways, but that had a variety of small glitches, formatting irregularities, inconsistent capitalization, and other seemingly minor anomalies,” says Tiersky. “The potential customers we interviewed in research sessions regularly zeroed-in on these small defects as details that made them question the quality of the company’s products and services.


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“While in truth, there was probably no direct connection between those two things, there was in the customer’s mind,” he notes. “Imagine losing a $100,000 or even $500,000 sale because of lost confidence resulting from a typo on your website.” Finally, get out of your lane to fix the small stuff. “I worked with one giant retailer where all the executives agreed that the navigation menus on the $1 billion-plus e-commerce site were confusing,” says Tiersky. “Yet nothing was done to fix them because nobody considered it their job. One executive focused on merchandising, one on pricing and promotions, and one on checkout processes, but there was no clear owner of cross-site navigation. Nobody wanted to step on toes or go outside of their mandate. So, it stagnated, despite the fact that everybody’s bonus was tied to total sales, and the menus were clearly turning off some customers.” The lesson: When everyone agrees that there is a problem that negatively impacts the customer’s experience, step up and deal with it. First, ask who should be in charge of fixing it. If there’s no obvious answer, form a new task force and get to work. Easy fixes should never be delayed. Relatively quick-and-easy fixes can go a long way. If you fix 100 things like these this quarter, and then 100 more next quarter, over time you can have a substantial impact.

“Digital transformation is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Tiersky. “The impactful changes you make now will add to your momentum down the road.”

About the Author: Howard Tiersky is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance. He has been named by IDG as one of the “Top 10 Digital Transformation Influencers to Follow Today.” As an entrepreneur, he has launched two successful companies that help large brands transform to thrive in the digital age: FROM, The Digital Transformation Agency and Innovation Loft. His dozens of Fortune 1000 clients have included Verizon, NBC, Viacom, Avis, Universal Studios, JPMC, Crayola, Morgan Stanley, Condé Nast, the NBA, Visa, and digital leaders like Facebook, Spotify, and Amazon. Prior to founding his own company, Howard spent 18 years with Ernst & Young Consulting, which then became part of Capgemini, one of the world’s leading global consulting firms, where he helped launch their digital practice. Howard speaks regularly at major industry conferences and is proud to have been on the faculty of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, his alma mater. Howard can be reached at or via email at Howard_Tiersky@From.Digital.

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Be a part of the crowd as more than 2,000 business leaders, top executives and top Canadian SMEs gather at the CanadianSME Business Expo taking place in June, 2021 virtually.