MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (November, 2023)

Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel from sunny Nova Scotia (yes, it’s bright!), alongside Mark Warner, Cristian Bravo, and Stephanie Skenderis, talking Alberta’s musings to leave the CPP, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud conviction, and changes at the helm at Blackberry; you can watch our segment here.  Some thoughts on our discussion.

Alberta’s Premier has gotten some attention with talk about Alberta leaving the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), however, the practical reality of this occurring is uncertain for a number of reasons.  The most obvious is the uncertainty around the portion of CPP assets that would apply to Alberta, as well as the practical mechanics of how a departure would happen.  In general terms, risk is mitigated through size, as smaller pools can be subject to increased volatility; there is also a lot riding on the expertise and strength of senior management and governance.  Fund results indicate that the CPP has performed very well, in comparison to other pools, while the majority of surveyed Albertans view leaving the CPP as either a “bad” or “very bad” idea.  Time will tell, as to whether this is simply more of the same narrative from the current party in charge, but don’t expect any big decisions anytime soon.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud conviction is a reminder of a couple of things, with the most notable being “if something is too good to be true, it probably is”.  It is also notable that new or emerging industries tend to be associated with an “anything goes” rationale, which couldn’t be further from the truth.  Just because an industry or product is new does not mean that laws and basic business guidelines don’t apply (they do), and those who are regarded as “wunderkinds” or “geniuses” are probably in over their head.  One of the most important aspects of business is experience, and a new or creative idea alone does not equate with the necessary skill to build a sustainable business, and to fully appreciate the risks and guardrails associated with doing so.  In my experience, as a business advisor and former venture capitalist, those who ignore these realities also tend to be poorly advised, as anyone with expertise has probably also been ignored (and has long since moved on, as a result).

And, finally, as Blackberry’s CEO retires, there are questions around what the Company’s future could look like.  From my perspective, the next CEO needs to be strong in the finance chair, as results haven’t been great, and also needs to understand how to tap into the right markets in order to build a sustainable business.  Doing this requires a different skillset than that of “product” or “development” people, and who is next at the helm will be crucial for Blackberry’s future.  It is also high time that there is gender diversity in this role, as all qualified candidates should be fully considered.

Thanks for watching and see you again soon!

Jenifer Bartman
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