Rod Charko (1961 – 2012)

Friday, 15 June, 2012

Rod Charko, $100 million man, CEO Alberta Enterprise

I am saddened to read the sudden passing of Rod Charko, CEO of Alberta Enterprise Corp. I met and video interviewed Rod in 2010 for my piece “Rod Charko, $100 million man, CEO Alberta Enterprise – Alberta’s opportunities & challenges“.

I am sorry to hear of his sudden passing. My thoughts are with his families and loved ones.


Kevin Roberts, CEO worldwide Saatchi & Saatchi keynotes nextMEDIA Toronto 2011

Thursday, 11 August, 2011

Kevin Roberts, CEO worldwide Saatchi & Saatchi at nextMEDIA Toronto 2011

I’ve been reading Kevin Roberts‘s ideas for years and even created Kevin’s Wikipedia page. So it is wonderful to see Kevin is coming to Canada to share his insights. The following is from the nextMEDIA Toronto 2011 (Dec 5 – 6) press release. If you are in Toronto during that time, register to attend.

CEO worldwide for creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts is a marketing pioneer with a heart for nostalgia and has been bringing popular brands to market and straight into consumers’hearts since the early 1970s. Roberts has worked with large-scale international clients such as Carlsberg, TMobile, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Sony Ericsson, JCPenney, Toyota and VISA Europe among others.

Roberts is the author of a number of best-selling books, including Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands, in which he describes the emotional connections we create with the brands we’ve grown tolove.

So, here’s the real question: How does your brand achieve Lovemark status? Well, fear not, Roberts is heading to nextMEDIA Toronto this year to help you solve that very problem.

Named one of the top ten ideas of the decade in 2010 by advertising and marketing news website AdAge, Lovemarks transcend brands, leaving their iconic symbols emblazoned in the hearts and memories of consumers worldwide.

Join Kevin Roberts at nextMEDIA Toronto 2011 for an informative keynote session about hisLovemarks theory, offering crucial insight into the future of marketing and an analysis of the way we identify with our favourite brands.”


Tony Lacavera, Chairman & CEO, Globalive (WIND Mobile) interview @ Banff World Media Festival 2011

Saturday, 18 June, 2011

Anthony Lacavera, Chairman & CEO, Globalive (WIND Mobile)

Since 2009, I had the pleasure to interview Tony Lacavera, Chairman & CEO, Globalive/WIND Mobile for a few times (see here and here). So it was my pleasure to chat with Tony again @Banff World Media Festival 2011.

Here are a few highlights of my video interview with Tony, By the way, also check out my video interview with Michael Hennessy, TELUS Senior VP, Regulatory and Government Affairs.

* 0:00 I asked Tony for his take on the Banff session where he had a few “debates” with Michael Hennessy, Senior VP, Regulatory and Government Affairs, TELUS.

* 0:36 I asked Tony about the recent Federal Court of Appeal panel decision in favour of WIND Mobile. (see my tweets here with link to National Post article and here)

* 1:50 Have the other guys started the appeal process and asked the Supreme Court of Canada to review the case?

* 2:35 Did Tony bring up the topic of the court rulings with Chairman of the CRTC?

* 2:46 Is WIND feeling the pressure now that Moblicity is in Calgary?

* 3:18 What about the dead coverage zones in the C-Train tunnels near downtown Calgary? (Tony also talked about the coverage inside Toronto TTC.)

* 4:54 The revamping of the WIND customer service touchpoints.
***

For all other Banff 2011 related interviews, please see here.


FedEx Electrified

Wednesday, 2 February, 2011

Interesting article “FedEx CEO: Let’s end our need for oil” [via Fortune]. Here is an excerpt (emphasis added),

FedEx has deployed its first all-electric delivery vehicles and will have 31 in service by the middle of this year. Early results confirm that the costs of operating and maintaining electric vehicles are significantly less than those for traditional internal-combustion-engine vehicles. In some cases we’ve achieved savings of 70% to 80%. As the price of batteries continues to fall, mostly due to scale production, the economics will start to make real sense from a total-cost-of-ownership perspective.

So we are making a start at FedEx, but it is not enough when it comes to the question of combating our nation’s dependence on oil. What we need to protect our nation is the environment to create in a few short years an entirely new transportation system with millions, and then tens of millions, of electric cars and trucks.”


TiVo CEO Tom Rogers interview @ Banff World TV Festival 2010

Friday, 9 July, 2010

Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo

It was my pleasure to interview TiVo CEO Tom Rogers when he was at the 2010 Banff World TV Festival.

In the interview, Tom and I talked about TiVo’s relationship with the advertising industry and television networks. When people are fast-forwarding commercials using technologies like DVR, television “needs to find different forms of inventory that involve different technologies as a way to present that [advertising] so that the advertising is compelling”. Tom gave the example of TiVo’s ability to pause live TV, so viewers can search and find any products appearing in a TV show (a sweater worn by an actress, a golf club used by an athlete, or any products on screen at the moment) and then turn the thought into an actionable transaction where the viewer can buy the product. TiVo is putting a lot of meta data into the TV content and movie content and in doing so, create a lot of “transaction opportunities”.

I also asked Tom When will TiVo come to Canada? And will the data collected by TiVo be transferable to Canada and other countries.

TiVo CEO Tom Rogers interview @ Banff World TV Festival 2010

Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo

Tom Rogers (r), CEO of TiVo

Here is Tom’s Banff bio.

Tom Rogers is President and Chief Executive Officer of TiVo (NASDAQ: TIVO), the creator of and a leader in television services for digital video recorders (DVRs). With a career that operates at the nexus of where media, technology, advertising and public policy come together for more than two decades, Tom brings to TiVo a distinctive blend of operational leadership and corporate strategy experience across multiple facets of the industry. Read the rest of this entry »


When CEOs Have Warren Buffett in Their Boardroom

Friday, 26 February, 2010

Have a read of this insightful Businessweek article by Alice Schroeder (author of biography of Warren Buffett “Snowball“), “When CEOs Have Warren Buffett in Their Boardroom – What’s it like to have America’s greatest investor as your shareholder? Buffett’s biographer talks to CEOs who know“. Here is an excerpt (emphasis added),

Who wouldn’t love to pick up the phone and ask Warren Buffett for advice? People have spent more than $1 million just to have lunch with the man. He was voted the most admired corporate director in America by Directorship magazine in 2008. Chief executives of companies he has a stake in laud his patience, foresight, and ability to capture the essence of a complex financial situation in just a few words. They also like the fact that he usually leaves them alone as long as they’re getting the job done.

Sometimes Buffett emerges from behind his desk and shows a side of himself that’s far less familiar. When he sees something he doesn’t like in a company whose shares he owns, the famously passive investor can swing into action to protect his investment—jawboning behind the scenes, scolding, cutting opportunistic deals, even hiring and firing CEOs. For some of those on the receiving end of his activism, it can feel a bit like being attacked by Santa Claus.

Also download and listen to this podcast (mp3 audio)where,

Jim Ellis talks with Alice Schroeder, author of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, about how the super-investor oversees the CEOs of companies in which he invests.


Peter Lau (MBA ’86, U of Calgary), Chairman & CEO Giordano International

Sunday, 21 February, 2010

Here is an interesting article about Peter Lau, (MBA ’86, U of Calgary), Chairman & CEO Giordano International in the U of Calgary magazine.

Love this quote as it shows how hard Peter works. Incidentally, if you shop in Giordano and one of the customers being observed, you may feel a bit creepy. :)

I spend some of my weekends on the computer watching through cameras in our stores to see how customers respond to promotions.

Click to zoom larger or read the digital version.

P1200978


John Lau leaving Husky to oversee Li Ka-shing’s growing southeast Asian presence

Saturday, 20 February, 2010

From Calgary Herald “Lau leaving behind a changed company – Husky CEO turned around ailing firm” (emphasis added),

Lau, who took the reins of the storied company in 1993, is credited with transforming once-troubled Husky into one of Canada’s largest energy firms. In January, the Harvard Business Review named him one of the world’s best-performing CEOs. [...]

What was supposed to be a temporary assignment for the young accountant from Hong Kong stretched into nearly two decades at the head of one of Calgary’s largest energy players after he was personally handed the task of turning the company around by Li Ka-shing, one of the richest men in the world.

Lau took the reins of Husky at a time when the debt-laden producer was bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink, with a debt to cash flow ratio of about 15 times. After a painful restructuring, he returned the company to profitability and lowered debt in line with industry standards, to two times cash flow, in less than five years.

Once the company was back on stable ground, Lau steered Husky onto a growth path by expanding the company’s retail network and making big investments in heavy oil and oilsands, and the East Coast off shore. In the process, Lau showed his skills as a shrewd deal-maker with a series of well-timed acquisitions that cemented the company’s recovery.


Thanks Jonathan Schwartz, CEO; Mike Dillion, GC (Sun Microsystems)

Friday, 29 January, 2010

Jonathan Schwartz is very likely the first CEO blogs that I read and I am really saddened to see him leaving.

Mike Dillion remains the only General Counsel that I know has a blog and share his legal expertise, views, and even some cases commentaries openly. And I’ve enjoyed Mike’s blog since day one.

Thanks Jonathan and Mike for sharing your insights.

(Note: At press time, I’m not sure if Mike will be staying with Oracle. I kinda miss reading Mike’s blog.)


Rod Charko, $100 million man, CEO Alberta Enterprise – Alberta’s opportunities & challenges

Thursday, 28 January, 2010

Rod Charko, $100 million man, CEO Alberta Enterprise

Mr. Rod Charko, CEO of Alberta Enterprise Corp (started in Sept 2009), came to Calgary last week to explain to Calgarians what AEC plans to do with the $100 million Alberta government (through AET) has entrusted him and AEC. After the presentation, Rod was very kind and spend more than half an hour with this reporter to answer some questions.

Rod stated clearly that AEC is NOT in the business of investing in individual startup companies. By government mandate, AEC is only allowed to invest in investment funds which may then invest in the startup companies. The funds that AEC is reviewing include funds in ICT, BioTech, CleanTech, and funds that are involve in multiple sectors. One of the investment criteria is the venture funds have to have a partner permanently station in Alberta and opening an office in the province.

In the long run, what AEC is trying to do is to create an environment of which venture capitalists will want to stay and keep investing in Alberta.

Another mandate of AEC is to increases deal-flows by working with Alberta organizations like VCAA (Venture Capital Association of Alberta), the alumni associations of universities, angel investors, mentors, and proven CEOs to help entrepreneurs in Alberta and help connect startup with venture funds.

Startups in Calgary also really need to have expertise, industry advice, board members who have direct experiences in the sectors they want to operate in. For example, medical device startup, Java software startup, solar CleanTech, etc these type of companies all need their own very specialized expertise and advices. The venture funds AEC are trying to bring to Alberta will have the needed connection to expertise in the Valley ready to help these Alberta startups.

To give you some idea, the following are some of the questions I’ve asked Rod. I’ve included the video clips at the end of this article so you can watch Rod answer my questions in his words.

* The funds AEC look at, are they VCs in Alberta, in Canada or in US (e.g. Silicon Valley)?

* AEC is trying to create a culture like the Valley here in Alberta. Will Calgary and Edmonton be featured or emphasized equally? Or does it matter? (short answer: AEC doesn’t tell VCs where to setup shop.)

* So your job is to find a good VC with a good track record that you can trust?

* How do you define metrics of success when their recent past performance may not be that good? (short answer: good fund managers have history of deal-flows, lessons learned from good and bad deals, operating experiences in startups and sectors they are addressing.)

* I asked Rod to talk about his background (Rod used to be an investment fund manager).

* Have you worked with this team of AEC people for years before? How many AEC people are there (excluding admin staff)?

* What does AEC plan to do to enhance the entrepreneurship environment in Alberta? Is this a long term thing that AEC will involve? (short answer: AEC’s philosophy is to have private industry own the ecosystem and deal-flow over time.)

* Does AEC have a website, a blog, etc to keep people informed? (short answer: only very high level information at AEC’s website, don’t really want to be a clearing house of information because Rod believes these are better done by private industry).

* The AEC arranged presentation and round table discussions can be recorded for wider viewing?

* How does the AEC funding process work? How long will it take AEC to deploy/invest the $100 million? How will the money trickle out to the investment funds to invest? Explain some of the industrial practice of how the system work (“cash call”, “calling money”, etc).

* AEC is a crown corporation, how does Rod make it transparent and accountable to Albertans? (short answer: AEC is an arms-length corp with an independent board of directors, report to Minister of AET.)

* AEC was started in Sept 2009, when will the first investment expected to be made? (short answer: looking at 35 already, deep due diligence with a few funds, possibly first investment in first quarter.)

* (clip 3, time code 3:05)What will be a happy picture (or ideal scenario) for AEC in ten years?

* Have other jurisdictions in the world been successful in duplicating the success of Silicon Valley?

* A discussion of education. The idea of teaching engineers, scientists, and people in other fields about business seems more viable than teaching business grads about technologies. Rod also talking about models that he is trying to follow (e.g. the Stanford example).

The following are video clips of my interview with Rod in three segments.


WIND Mobile Calgary Launch (interviews with CEO Ken Campbell, CCO Chris Robbins)

Friday, 18 December, 2009

I am very excited that WIND Mobile has finally launched its services and opened its first store in Calgary today. I’ve conducted video interviews of WIND Mobile Chief Executive Officer Ken Campbell and Chief Customer Officer Chris Robbins which you will hear them talk about,

- WIND’s launch experiences (with Industry Canada and CRTC)

- Details of 5GB limitation of WIND data plan and on the reduction of speed (after that 5GB). – Essentially if the network is not busy, you will still get full speed even if your usage exceeds 5GB.

- When can customers get iPhones and the pricing plans? – Chris talks about WIND operates the newest GSM – AWS (some info at FCC page). Hopefully in 2010 when T-Mobile in US launches their AWS iPhone, WIND will get some of those iPhones. Targeting “2nd half of 2010″ but it is up to Apple (and the volume demand for AWS iPhone).

- When will WIND go to Edmonton, Vancouver, and other cities? – Edmonton & Ottawa (Jan 2010), Vancouver (early 2010), expand services in Calgary

- You will hear Ken’s response to Globe and Mail’s report “Globalive lobbyists stay silent on winning tactics“, where Ken stated “all activities have been filed“. (update: Globe and Mail has apologized and retracted the story.) See Ken’s full answer in the video interview.

- WIND’s online blog and community plan and strategy

Here is my interview with video interview with WIND Mobile CEO Ken Campbell (Time code added in the YouTube video info area so you can jump to particular segment.)

Here is my video interview with WIND Chief Customer Officer Chris Robbins (Time code added in the YouTube video info area so you can jump to particular segment.)

Here are some photos and I will try to add more to this post later if I can find some nice ones.

I included the last photo of the WIND coffee cup holder and press pass. I love attention to details. It is precisely this kind of attention to details that sometimes is a sign of good customer service and customer care. Time will tell. We will see.

First WIND Mobile customer at Calgary Launch

First WIND Mobile customer at Calgary Launch

WIND Mobile CEO Ken Campbell at Calgary Launch

WIND Mobile CEO Ken Campbell at Calgary Launch

WIND Mobile CCO Chris Robbins at Calgary Launch

WIND Mobile CCO Chris Robbins at Calgary Launch

Potential WIND Mobile customers at Calgary Launch

Potential WIND Mobile customers at Calgary Launch (papa and baby boy were lining up outside this morning)

WIND Mobile (Calgary Launch)

WIND Mobile @ Calgary Launch


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