British Columbia can do better: here’s how

Thirty ideas from 30 of the province’s business, political and community leaders

Last Tuesday, BIV asked 30 of B.C.’s brightest leaders to share 30 ideas in 30 minutes. The ideas ranged from reflections on COVID-19 to the possibilities that lie ahead for the province.

Below are highlights that have been edited and condensed for length and clarity. Video from the full event is available at

We’ve been given a gift, and that is the chance to look at our world with fresh eyes; to reassess our priorities. There is a new openness to big changes and new ideas – ideas based not in old ideologies, but in evidence and new knowledge, and grounded in a values-based commitment to shared prosperity. We have a chance to make our world better for all of us. Let’s not screw it up.
– Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of British Columbia

There is a misconception that we have to sacrifice our privacy in order to do contact tracing. At Mimik, we have [built an] application to enable anonymous contact tracing and maintain data privacy. We have partnered with a few enterprises to use the application for going back to the workplace safely.
– Fay Arjomandi, founder and CEO, Mimik Technology Inc.

Let’s move from what is, to what if. What if we completely re-imagine how the world’s working? What if we redesign the failed industrial complex? What if we redistribute wealth? What if we’re more creative with how we think about the future?
– Nikolas Badminton, lead futurist and CEO, Exponential Minds

Eighty-five per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. Organizations that prepare leaders and their employees to respond with a new organizational mindset will thrive.
– Shakeela Begum, founder, Boundless Potential

If you are one of the one-third of Canadians not going to a gym – go back. It’s important to keep that mental health and mental stamina going as we continue to go through this pandemic.
– Mario Canseco, president, Research Co.

The ability to be a global leader in carbon offsets and selling them to the world is possible for B.C., but we’ve got to be pointed, focused and collaborative.
– Greg D’Avignon, president and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia

We must seize the opportunities that exist to build back better, focus on job creation through investment and critical infrastructure while reducing inequities and saving the environment.
– Sav Dhaliwal, board chair, Metro Vancouver; councillor, City of Burnaby

My idea is that downtown employees work together to develop and implement a safe and thoughtful plan to face the return of a larger percentage of employees back to the office this fall.
– Charles Gauthier, president and CEO, Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association

Throughout this pandemic, I’ve really learned how resilient we are. Watching all of this unfold has given me a sense of confidence in humanity. What makes us human is our ability to collaborate and solve problems as we’re doing today.
– David Gens, founder and CEO, Merchant Growth

A lot has changed and some things have not. Social justice movements and anti-racist conversations have been elevated. I don’t think this would have happened in the same way had we not all been locked down with COVID. We as leaders have an obligation to do the hard work, to reflect and respond.
– Prem Gill, CEO, Creative BC

We all know the government is going to spend a lot of money and stimulus to help us recover from the pandemic. The question is: can be we be as visionary about this spending as the New Deal?
– Arvind Gupta, computer science professor, University of Toronto; former president, University of British Columbia

COVID showed me how incredibly quickly Canada can pull together and mobilize to help in a crisis. In a crisis, we can call upon our national labs to step up and work together and bring their brilliant minds and deep capabilities when they are needed the most.
– Kathryn Hayashi, president and CEO, Triumf Innovations

Have an innovation hub or lab for your business and be free to test new ways of doing things.
– Anita Huberman, president and CEO, Surrey Board of Trade

I have been reminded during these past six months of the critically important role that art plays in our society. We are being challenged like never before, but the indomitable artistic spirit continues to push forward and innovate in ways that inspire and move me. Art persists through great challenges.
– Paul Larocque, president and CEO, Arts Umbrella

I think we’ve all been given the permission to change and change things and structures that are just incorrect and be proactive around undoing them.
– Greg Malpass, founder and CEO, Traction on Demand

As we consider how to lead, we need to continue to trust and to build trust, but we also need to incorporate appropriate verifications to prove to ourselves and to our employees that trust is well placed.
– Lori Mathison, president and CEO, Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia

The world likes to talk about the benefits of innovation, but when it comes to our governments, we often demand perfection and punish mistakes. You can’t have it both ways. As society returns to normal, one of the things we should hold on to is the spark of government in agility and innovation.
– Mark Masongsong, co-founder and CEO, UrbanLogiq

Our capacity to do high-potential, high-value, highly commercializable research is extraordinary and will be central to Canada’s economic recovery and our human health.
– Gordon McCauley, president and CEO, AdMare BioInnovations

During COVID-19 we’re doubling down on customer experience. We empowered our team to take the time needed not only to resolve technical issues, but to show empathy and take extra care to offer words of encouragement.
– Cybele Negris, co-founder and CEO,

Let’s leverage this unprecedented time to get ready for the next crisis that we all know is coming. Together, let’s establish a world-class centre of excellence on the low-carbon circular economy here in Metro Vancouver.
– Bryan Buggey, director, Vancouver Economic Commission

My fear is that the old paradigm of work will linger on as companies revert back to their old dysfunctional habits. Leading companies around the world continue to redefine the workplace, and people and consumers re-evaluate what’s most important in their lives. In the last three months, I’ve seen too many companies start to lose that sense of urgency.
– Rocky Ozaki, founder and CEO, NowOfWork

We need to question the assumptions we have. I think everyone needs to look at creating new playbooks for this new normal, and be continuously engaging with your customers, with your employees, with your non-customers and even with your competitors.
– Andrew Reid, founder and CEO, Rival Technologies

We were able to change our organization forever. In a culture that traditionally did not work from home, we moved 800 people home in 10 days. When you hear ‘No,’ realize it can become ‘Yes’ overnight.
– Barry Rivelis, senior vice-president and chief strategy and information office, Pacific Blue Cross

Choosing the right thing to do isn’t that difficult when your organization is ground in a clear and inviolable purpose.
– Mike Schilling, president and CEO, Community Savings Credit Union

What allowed us to be successful is the premise that we agree to disagree in some cases. Jeff Bezos calls this the premise of disagree and commit. This takes a lot of emotional maturity and leadership from people at all levels.
– Hamed Shahbazi, founder and CEO, Well Health Technologies Corp.

What we’re seeing a large rise in is the evaluation and assessment of our skill-sets. We’re realizing that it’s not access to information nor even the absorption of that information that is the biggest dilemma, but rather how it’s used in the workplace to improve that productivity.
– Jeremy Shaki, co-founder and CEO, Lighthouse Labs

We need to add teachers to the list of frontline workers. I believe their compensation should reflect their role and importance in our society.
– Ali Tehrani, president, Zymeworks Inc.

With one of my companies, what we’ve been doing since May is experimenting with a four-day work week. It has become a very welcome solution for our team to give them extra time to deal with mental stress.
– Ray Walia, co-founder and CEO, Launch Academy

In Canada, we have not yet moved on universal access to the Internet. This market-driven model in the telecommunications space has resulted in 75% of First Nations communities in B.C. priced out. I want to see a country committed to equality of access.
– Denise Williams, CEO, First Nations Technology Council

There’s a reason why some groups have been hit harder than others, the vulnerable and marginalized, and if we are able to do something about it during a pandemic, then why not permanently. Let us address inequalities with action, not words, with a plan to restart a greater economy.
– Jody Wilson-Raybould, member of Parliament, Vancouver-Granville