MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (April, 2022)

Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel on a busy news week, alongside Mark Warner and John Northcott.

 With a diverse array of topics, here are some thoughts on our chat:

The early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were met with shock, anger, and sanctions by a range of countries.  Over a month later, what has the impact been?  It’s true that many companies have indicated that they will no longer do business with or in Russia, which should impact supply on both a consumer and corporate level.  It has been reported, however, that some companies continue to operate there under franchise arrangements, and in the absence of being able to see the details of the agreement (franchise, license, joint venture, or otherwise), it is difficult to identify exactly why this is the case (an important lesson for business leaders considering doing business abroad).  Regardless, companies that continue to operate in Russia will certainly face negative response from customers and the public in areas such as North America and Europe, which could result in costly brand and financial damage where it matters.

As we look ahead to Canada’s budget day, it will be interesting to see the impact of the arrangement between the Liberals and NDP, policy announcements in areas such as national defence spending and security, as well as the balance between moving forward from COVID19 and recognizing that the pandemic still has a considerable impact on businesses, consumers, and the economy.

And speaking of inflation, Dollarama’s recent results announcement indicates that the Company has been financially successful over the past while (not surprising for companies of this nature in difficult economic times) and a plan to incorporate products with a $5 price point.  Those who shop at Dollarama know that existing products can cost as much as $4, and given inflation and cost increases related to supply chain and other manufacturing and procurement problems, it is not surprising to see rising retail prices.  This approach might also bring in additional products to Dollarama, providing more variety for shoppers (let’s hope they did their research!).

And, finally, Amazon warehouse workers in the New York City area voted to unionize on Friday, representing the first successful US organizing effort in the Company’s history.  This situation did not involve major trade unions and has been characterized as a grassroots effort, and given the significant wealth gap between business owners/leaders and the “average worker”, expect to see this trend continue; the question is: how far will it go?  Consider the many people who effectively piece together their own income, through various casual or gig economy jobs, with little in the way of security or benefits, while multi-billionaires exhibit excessive lifestyles on social media.  The reality is that there is a cost to this gap, and as we have discussed on the Business Panel before, it is not about everyone earning the same amount of money, but, rather, bringing a sense of fairness to the issue to generate better outcomes for everyone.

Thank you for watching, and let’s hope that we see peaceful days in Ukraine very soon.

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MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (March, 2022)

On a difficult news week, pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Elmer Kim, Sherena Hussain, and John Northcott, discussing the impact of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, a sovereign nation.  As a Canadian of Ukrainian descent, I have known since my childhood that Ukrainians are strong and resilient people; something that is being witnessed on the world stage in circumstances that are hard to imagine in 2022.

Some thoughts on our discussion:

  • For as many companies that have taken steps to cease business dealings with Russia, there are even more who have been silent on this crisis thus far.  Expect customers and other stakeholders to bring attention to these companies in the days ahead (and for those who are not happy with a company’s lack of action on this issue, customers have the ultimate power to take their business elsewhere).
  • Here in Canada, inflation arising out of issues such as the supply chain crisis and COVID19 has received a lot of attention over the past several months.  As global companies cease business relations with Russia, we are reminded of its prominence in the oil and gas industry and what the price impact could be for Canadians.  We have seen price increases at the pumps in recent days and can expect this to continue.
  • It is important to recognize, however, that rising gas prices should not mean an abandonment of green energy initiatives, as this is the way of the future.  Concerns about climate change and the environment should not dissipate because of Russia’s actions against Ukraine.  Rather, we are reminded of an important business strategy for managing risk: diversification.  Although transition to green energy is not something that will occur overnight, diversification of energy supply is something that all countries should keep in mind, as experts have indicated that the way to impact Russian leadership is through its oil and gas industry.
  • In times of inflation and rising interest rates, Canadians should follow credible news sources and consider their own financial situation.  As we are witnessing with Ukrainians who are living through horrendous circumstances, resourcefulness and resilience are important strategies for managing through difficult times.

Thinking of everyone in the Ukraine, including those who have made the difficult journey to a safer location, often leaving family members and friends behind; it is hard to imagine what a nightmare this must be.  For those who would like to help, remember that the Canadian government is matching donations to the Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal until March 18, 2022; more information about donating can be found here, CanadaHelps, or seek out ways to support from your own community.

Thanks for watching; here’s to better days ahead.  We see you, Ukraine.

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