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  2. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
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News

Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony

Toronto, Ontario, Thursday, May 18, 2017

 

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Good evening, everyone.

It’s a pleasure to be here to celebrate the inductees into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

Alain Bouchard, Tom Jenkins, Clay Riddell and Nancy Southern have made such powerful and significant impacts on the Canadian economy. Their ideas and actions have shaped our success at home and on the international stage.

And they have all been innovators par excellence.

Innovation, in this case, refers not only to the products and services they have developed, but also to their leadership skills.

Throughout their careers, these four leaders have proven themselves to be dynamic and creative thinkers, which often mean thinking across borders and disciplines.

Globalization and the ongoing information and communications revolution both enable us and require us to work together and to forge new partnerships. It’s almost as though because we can communicate and collaborate with one another, we must.

Collaboration is key. Innovation so often occurs through the collision of ideas and circumstances.

I recently had the pleasure of writing—with Tom Jenkins, no less!—a book titled Ingenious, where we tell the story of Canadian innovation.

One common theme throughout is that innovation is not a one-person job. It often takes a skilled team of individuals under the leadership of a singular vision.

What innovators do so well is to realize their dependence upon the people around them, and trust those people to lead, to take risks, to make mistakes, to learn.

That word, trust, is a vitally important one when it comes to leadership. There can be no effective leadership or innovation without trust.

Consider this: the recently released  Edelman Trust Barometer states that only 37% of the general population globally trusts corporate CEOs and that 67% of the general population believes CEOs or firms focus too much on short-term results.

What this means is that companies have to work harder to earn peoples’ trust. This is especially true when new discoveries and innovations are being introduced.

Great leaders build trust and connect with those they lead and those they serve. And the first step is to make sure they’re seen from within their organizations as part of a team—and all the others feel they are part of that team.

Alain, Tom, Clay and Nancy have all done this.

All four of the inductees this evening are experts in surrounding themselves with the right people. They inspire trust in those they lead and know that they couldn’t have come all this way without help. These are among the reasons that they have been successful innovators in their fields.

The result of that innovation has made the world not only wealthier, but smarter, smaller, kinder, safer, healthier and happier as well.

That’s no small task!

Their success has also yielded another result: they have inspired the next generation.

Earlier today, I participated in the Junior Achievement Canada, Youth Innovation Day.

There, hundreds of young business leaders gathered from across Canada to hear how important innovation is to all aspects of business.

Looking out onto that crowd, I knew I was looking at the future of this country. Here were the young men and women who would innovate and lead our country forward towards unimagined possibilities. 

They’re poised to innovate and to lead, but it’s up to us to support and shepherd them into that new age. They have so much to offer, and so do you.

Their success, after all, is our success. It is Canada’s success.

They will look to you, particularly to the Companions of the Order of the Business Hall of Fame, to see how things are done, what has worked and what can be improved upon.

Of course, that’s when one last bit of wisdom can be imparted from the Companions to the next generation: learning is a lifelong process.

And so, I hope that you’ll share your stories with others that follow in your footsteps.

This is especially important during the 150th anniversary of Canada. Let’s use this milestone to look forward to the future with confidence and with anticipation of what’s to come.

All of you have shown bold and forward-thinking leadership. And you have shown us what it means to be a truly effective, innovative and legitimate leader in the 21st century.

Congratulations on this well-deserved honour. 

Thank you.