Jennifer Kwan

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Jennifer Kwan is a freelance journalist based in Victoria. Her writing has appeared in the Toronto Star, and national outlets ranging from Reuters to The Canadian Press.

Blog Posts by Jennifer Kwan

  • What's your job? Kristi Birnie, colourist at Arc'teryx

    For Kristi Birnie, choosing a colour is not something that is an easy process. But rather one that is deeply creative and merges science, art and heart, says the manager of colour design at Vancouver-based outdoor gear and clothing maker Arc'teryx Equipment Inc.

    Birnie and her team of eight are in charge of deciphering the clothing maker's colour scheme. It can take as many as five months to get colours right, from conceptualizing the palette to approving the final lab dips and completing the colourway. Then there's another five-month wait to see those colours on the roughly 320 products offered by Arc'teryx, widely known for its high-quality Gore-Tex jackets that can cost upwards of $650.

    Birnie, 35, was destined to be in fashion. While most of us were sewing imperfect, ugly sweat tops in home ec, Birnie was mapping out her future. After high school, she promptly left her home near Vancouver, British Columbia to attend Ryerson University's School of Fashion. Recruited by Arc'teryx

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  • 5Q: Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada

    If there were any doubt Peter Aceto stands out from other Canadian banking executives, a recent speech to a Bay Street audience cleared that up quickly. In that speech, Aceto, chief executive of ING Direct Canada used the term "frigging," and it's probably safe to say few other bank CEOs would do the same.

    But that's the point, says Aceto, the 45-year-old boss of the country's largest direct bank with nearly $40 billion in balance sheet assets including products such as savings accounts, mortgages, GICs and TFSAs.

    ING is expected by mid-May to be renamed Tangerine following Scotiabank's acquisition of it from Dutch insurance giant ING Group for $3.1 billion in 2012.

    Because ING Direct is different, inside and out, part of that means Aceto must emulate that too. For example, he gives the public unprecedented access to him, particularly through social media, a mark that once won him the moniker of "the tweeting CEO."

    It's a good nickname. Aceto's half-hour slot at the Empire Club of

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  • What's your job? Lorna Geddes, pointe shoe manager at National Ballet of Canada

    Most people see pointe shoes and think they're pretty in pink with satin and ribbon. After five decades with the National Ballet of Canada, Lorna Geddes can't help but see them a little bit differently.

    As the ballet company's pointe shoe manager since 1998, Geddes has seen the footwear get banged, bent, hammered and cut up. That's because it's her job to help the 72 dancers find their perfect shoes, measuring each important specification of the shoe such as the box, shank, vamp and more, so dancers can prevent injury, rehearse and perform to their best abilities in the 81 shows this season.

    Taking care of pointe shoes keeps Geddes, 70, connected to her lifelong love of ballet, which she began dancing as a preschooler growing up in Waterloo, Ont. After finishing grade 11, she moved to Toronto and learned the art from Celia Franca, the founder of the National Ballet of Canada, and Betty Oliphant, founder of Canada's National Ballet School.

    Geddes, who is also currently a character actor,

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  • 5Q: Blake Hutcheson, CEO of Oxford Properties

    If you ask Blake Hutcheson if real estate played a big role in his life growing up, he'd tell you he practically grew up hanging off front-end loaders, backhoes and bulldozers at construction sites, tagging along with his dad who built a career on fixing roads, homes, cottages and buildings in Huntsville, Ontario.

    It's no wonder Hutcheson, chief executive of Oxford Properties Group, quickly discovered he, too, loved to build things.

    These days he's especially focused on assembling the right mix when it comes to shopping malls and office towers, which make up a big chunk of Oxford's $27 billion -- and growing -- global real estate assets. In Canada, retail real estate has garnered a lot of attention lately with news that Saks, bought by Hudson's Bay Co for $2.9 billion last year, and Nordstrom will soon be housed under one roof at Toronto's Eaton Centre, owned by rival Cadillac Fairview Corp.

    But Oxford, the real estate arm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), has its

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  • 5Q: Tim Leiweke, President & CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment

    Tim Leiweke uses the words 'win' or 'winning' more than a dozen times in our conversation. It's a message he's been drilling into the collective psyche of Toronto FC, Raptors and Maple Leafs fans since he took over as boss of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment last summer, and he's loathe to stray far from it.

    By most accounts it appears to be working. Once seen as mission impossible, few can dispute the fact that his drive to win has been contagious. First, he wanted his own crew so there was a shuffle at the top echelons of the company. Then there were the splashy Leafs contracts with Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. After that, Leiweke sent a jolt across all MLSE franchises — and the soccer world — earlier this year by doling out $100 million for international soccer superstars Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley.

    All the while, there's buzz around a $120-million BMO Field expansion, which could possibly bring events such as the NHL Winter Classic and the Toronto Argonauts. How all the

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  • What's your job? Aaron McHardy, motion capture producer

    When Aaron McHardy put on a lycra motion capture suit his fate changed. As a soccer player, he was supposed to be helping producers at video game developer Electronic Arts Canada mimic human likeness and movements to make digital characters for the FIFA Soccer franchise. But as he dribbled, passed and shot the ball, McHardy was captivated by the behind-the-scenes process.

    It was a serendipitous encounter. For several years before, McHardy, 34, had traveled between Jamaica, Canada and the United States -- where he studied business administration at Oregon State University--struggling to make a career playing professional football. When he realized his dream job might not be within reach, McHardy zeroed in on the next best thing: making soccer video games.

    Now as a producer at EA, McHardy combines his knowledge of being a former professional footballer with the creative, technical and business elements of designing and developing the company's wildly popular FIFA games, a job that not

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  • What's your job? Peter Higgins, chocolate scientist

    To say Peter Higgins has a sweet tooth is an understatement. Chocoholic might be more like it. As a chocolate scientist at Purdys Chocolatier, he eats as many as 10 pieces a day, testing and tasting alongside the master chocolatier to create the delicious treats.

    That's because the entire process is part science, part art, says Higgins, who is also president of the privately-held company. In order to get the right recipe chocolate is not to be broken, bitten into and devoured too quickly, but rather savoured slowly and done over and over again.

    Higgins, who studied food sciences at the University of British Columbia, started experimenting with the mixing of food and wine in the province's Okanagan region. He eventually landed a job on the production floor at Vancouver-based Purdys in the late 1990s and has remained a fixture ever since.

    The company, which has shops in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, is known for its signature purple and gold logo that is extra popular during times

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  • What's your job? Ember Lundgren, preservation specialist

    Ember Lundgren didn't know it, but volunteering to collect bugs along the window sills at the Royal BC Museum during school paved the way for her career as a preservationist. Sure, it was grunt work. But for Lundgren, who was studying anthropology at the University of Victoria at the time, it was the best place to be on earth.

    Of course, bug collecting wasn't the only thing she did. She dusted the tops of totem poles, cleaned and inspected artifacts, from China dolls to plates to horse tackle. More importantly, Lundgren began to meet people and learn about the role of conservation and archives at the museum, which eventually led to her specializing in the area of film preservation at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

    Now, as a preservation manager at the Royal BC Museum she's the master of keeping old, precious records like letters, journals, film and audio recordings safe to ensure we all can access those links to the past.

    But times are changing. Most of us don't write

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  • 5Q: Chuck Jeannes, CEO of Goldcorp

    Goldcorp boss Chuck Jeannes usually draws a line between work and play, but that division recently became virtually nonexistent. In the days and weeks leading up to Jan. 13 -- when the Vancouver-based miner announced a $2.6-billion hostile bid for rival Osisko Mining Corp -- Jeannes's work days grew longer and longer.

    Prepping for the bid itself and the ensuing market reaction is surely no easy task. That there is even a bid happening now makes the event especially enticing for the broader gold mining sector, which was hit hard last year when gold prices plummeted nearly 30 per cent.

    The big prize is Osisko's Canadian Malartic mine, which is located in northwestern Quebec with an estimated 10 million ounces of gold reserves, an overall acquisition Goldcorp says would improve its portfolio, while offering Osisko shareholders "operational improvements" and "synergies" through Goldcorp's existing investments in Quebec and Ontario.

    Last week (Jan. 20), Osisko urged its shareholders to reject

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  • What's your job? Sara Jayne Smith, jellyfish handler

    If you ask Sara Jayne Smith how she got into jellyfish, she'll tell you she practically grew up with them. As a kid living near the ocean on Vancouver Island, Smith tracked jellyfish blooms, or swells in population, every summer.

    As a teenager, she learned more about jellies in high school and later went on to specialize in marine biology completing a science degree at the University of Victoria, while also getting hands-on experience caring for the billowy, brainless creatures at a local aquarium. Now, as an aquarist at the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto, Smith's primary job is to take care of Planet Jellies, a sprawling nine-tank exhibit that is home to more than 350 jellies.

    From feedings to tank maintenance, which includes slipping into a wet suit and lowering herself into a 65,000-litre kreisel tank, jellies are now a big part of Smith's day job rather than simply a natural wonder.

    But the aquarium is home to 16,000 marine animals — more than 450 species including four types

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  • 5Q: Garey Aitken, CIO of Franklin Bissett Investment Management

    If market seers are right, Canada's stock market could inch higher in 2014 as the global economy slowly improves and the heavily-weighted resource sector stages a small comeback after a terrible performance last year.

    The S&P/TSX composite index was considered a laggard in 2013, capping off the year up nearly 10 per cent but well below its main U.S. counterparts, which logged rises of at least 25 per cent. Going forward, the economic health of the United States, Europe, China and, to a lesser degree, Japan will remain in focus. Of course, to what extend the U.S. Federal Reserve winds down its stimulus, widely referred to as tapering, will also be a key feature.

    How all that affects export-focused Canada will be key, says Garey Aitken, chief investment officer of Franklin Bissett Investment Management, which manages some $19 billion worth of assets. All the while, Canada faces its own sets of issues: an ultra-low interest rate climate, high consumer debt loads, debate over oil exports

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  • Canada energy outlook 2014: Expect more of the same

    If watching pipeline politics was like watching a sports game, then we should probably expect several replays in 2014 — but that's not to say the show won't be exciting.

    The big plays will be whether U.S. President Barack Obama gives the $5.3-billion Keystone XL project the thumbs up, while industry watchers will also be paying a lot of attention to the fate of Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. That's because each will in no short order help the country become the resource powerhouse it wants to be.

    Sound familiar? It should. These topics dominated the energy patch last year -- along with fluctuations in oil prices and the debate over so-called land-locked oil -- and many industry watchers are eager to get some answers. "2014 might shape up to be a monumental year for the future of Canada," says Geoff Hill, partner and national oil and gas leader at Deloitte, based in Calgary.

    "For Canada to be a global energy superpower we need to get our resources to foreign markets. Right

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  • Canadian dollar in 2014: Bracing for the new normal

    Mark Letain checks the value of the Canadian dollar on a daily basis and endures the mental debate over whether he'll need to make tough business decisions because of a volatile loonie, which recently plummeted to a four-year low.

    As chief operating officer of the Winnipeg-based modern furniture store EQ3, which designs and manufactures upholstery locally but imports roughly half of the goods it sells, Letain is preparing for what is shaping up to be another painful year for the loonie.

    Who wins and who loses?

    There are some obvious winners and losers when the currency plummets. Exporters and border-hopping U.S. shoppers are surely pleased. Letain is on the wrong side. If the currency continues its descent, he has two options: absorb the loss or hike retail prices.

    "It's not so much where the currency is that's problematic," says Letain. "What's really difficult is where it's going. When should I buy more U.S. dollars or what kind of hedging strategy should I employ?"

    Last week, the

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  • What's your job? Annie Sibonney, gastronomic adventurer

    There's a scene in an episode from the television show From Spain with Love where host Annie Sibonney knocks on the door of an exclusive, all-male gastronomic society in the Basque Country of northern Spain. Peio Garcia Amiano, a friend and Basque food writer, lets her in. As he opens the door, she looks into the camera, smiles and says in a coy manner: "You gotta know someone."

    But it wasn't always so easy. Toronto-based Sibonney tirelessly knocked on doors across Spain and Italy to forge relationships with locals and three-star Michelin chefs to launch her business, Relish Culinary Tours, which designs bespoke, behind-closed-door food adventures for lovers of food, wine and people. A trip can cost up to $2,000 per day, not including airfare.

    Toronto chef David Lee once wrote about his 250-dish, eight-day excursion with multilingual Sibonney--including "seven Michelin-starred temples of gastronomy" -- in the Globe and Mail newspaper, describing the journey as unforgettable, monumental

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  • What's your job? Paul Taylor, patient health navigator

    After roughly two decades covering the health sector as a reporter and editor at the Globe and Mail newspaper, Paul Taylor seemingly took a big leap to the other side. In journalism parlance, that typically means jobs in public relations. But in reality, as Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's patient navigator advisor, Taylor's role falls somewhere in between.

    Instead of working with other reporters and editors in traditional communications, Taylor's job focuses on
    patients and other visitors: how to help them navigate a hospital stay or get answers to health-related questions on topics such as providing long-distance support for cancer patients or protecting personal medical records.

    While some hospitals have navigators for specialized units, Taylor's role is central to Sunnybrook's digital strategy. Taylor often receives queries via e-mail and then finds the experts, whether in-house or external, to get the answers. The information can then be published online.

    Taylor says he loved

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  • 5Q: Jon Levy, master of Mastermind Toys

    There's a reason why Jon Levy, chief executive and head toy buyer of Mastermind Toys, has been in the toy business for 30 years. He's clearly a big kid at heart given the sheer glee in his voice when talking about his favourite toy, Kapla Blocks.

    Levy, who founded the store in Toronto with his brother Andy in the 1980s, explains how the rectangular-shaped blocks can be manoeuvred perfectly, are made with pine originating from a forest near Bordeaux, France and require no nails or glue. You can stack and create anything from a geometric, non-descriptive design to a giraffe, says Levy. It's no wonder the privately-held speciality toy store is popular. It is typically staffed with similarly chipper staff.

    The holiday toy-buying season is a busy time for Mastermind, but Levy has also got his mind on 2014 and beyond. That's when he plans to start rolling out new stores across Canada as he embarks on an aggressive three-year campaign that is expected to bring the total number of Mastermind

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  • What's your job? Julia Wall-Clarke, international sports press manager

    On this particular Sunday evening, Julia Wall-Clarke is standing in a security line at Heathrow Airport, en route to  Australia to meet up with her press team handling the Clipper round the world yacht race.

    Our conversation is delayed and interrupted a couple of times due to a backup at airport security, but when we actually connect the 29-year-old elite media handler speaks rapidly and is very succinct. She's clearly used to being and communicating on the go doing media operations at sports events including the English Premier League, big-city marathons such as the London and New York marathons, as well as the Olympics and Wimbledon. 

    Her latest adventure is the 11-month yacht race that will take crew to 15 ports on six continents, pushing the idea of telecommuting to a whole new level. One auto reply I received when trying to reach her was this: "I am currently out with the Clipper Race in Sydney, Australia. (GMT +11)" When I requested a photo of her near a yacht, her response was:

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  • Do minimum wage hikes help or hinder the economy?

    By now many of us have read or heard about the Wal-Mart in Ohio that held a Thanksgiving food drive, in which employees were asked to donate to help coworkers in need. The highly-publicized event offered a shocking new twist to the low-wage workers debate.

    North of the 49th parallel, the visual storytelling may be less jarring, but the takeaway is the same: Should we hike minimum wage levels and does it help or hinder the economy?

    Proponents of minimum wage hikes suggest that raising pay would put more purchasing power into the hands of consumers, who would in turn spend the money needed to grease the economy. People would also be able to participate more in society such as going to the movies once in a while or meeting a friend for coffee, outings low-wage earners can't usually afford.

    A hike could also combat an increase in precarious work and reverse the trend of eroding labour standards and worker instability such as low-paying contract work or work that lacks benefits or pensions,

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  • 5Q: Ofelia Isabel, Towers Watson compensation expert

    Ofelia Isabel might've used studying at the University of Waterloo as an excuse to get away from home for a while, but getting a degree in actuarial science helped lay the ground for a two-decade long career.
    Now as the Canadian division leader for rewards, talent and communication at professional services firm Towers Watson, Isabel advises blue-chip companies on hiring, pensions and benefits.
    But finding the perfect compensation sweet spot can be tough, says Isabel. Money is a key motivator, but employees are also placing greater desire on the need to have stability, good bosses, purpose in work and flexibility to ensure personal well-being.
    Where are salaries going in 2014?

    Employers are telling us they're projected to provide 2.8 per cent increases for 2014. It does vary a bit by industry so energy, retail, insurance are all planning slightly higher increases; health and banking slightly lower increases.
    What are the smart, creative companies doing?
    They're really realizing how

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  • Does CN have a secret agenda to transport oil to the West Coast?

    There has been a lot of money and effort put into building pipelines to transport oil from Alberta to the Pacific coast. So you'd think there'd be at least some interest in using the go-to alternative: rail. After all, Canadian National Railway operates a line that parallels the route of the Northern Gateway pipeline which, even if it gets approved, won't be in service until at least 2018.

    But it turns out, no one is interested in transporting oil by rail across B.C.-or so says CN. That's despite the fact premiers Christy Clark and Alison Redford, in a backgrounder to their recent agreement on the ground rules for building pipelines, warned that oil may end up crossing B.C. by train en route to Asia regardless of whether the Northern Gateway or Trans-Mountain Expansion projects go ahead.

    "We're not involved in anything on the West Coast, zero, zilch," CN vice-president, petroleum and chemicals James Cairns told the National Post the day after the premiers' meeting in October. No customer

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  • 5Q: Roger Hardy, founder and CEO of Coastal Contacts

    At a time when many Canadian retailers are turning to the web, corrective eyewear e-tailer Coastal Contacts is the contrarian.
    Earlier this year, the company opened two physical stores in Vancouver and a third store opened in Toronto's Queen Street West neighbourhood on Black Friday. Founder and Chief Executive Roger Hardy is betting the touch-and-feel approach is a perfect complement to its online business, which operates as in Canada.
    Initially, the idea was supposed to be an experiment that took surveys, polls and focus groups on contact lenses and glasses to the next level, enhancing an already flourishing e-commerce business that began in 2000, which now has operations in North America, Europe and Australia.
    Hardy sees the move to brick-and-mortar locations as a way of fortifying their customer service in an increasingly cutthroat industry fixated on omni-channel retailing or seamless shopping experience in-store, online or via mobile device.
    By Canadian

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  • 5Q: Peter Simons, CEO of La Maison Simons

    Near the end of our conversation, Peter Simons, chief executive of La Maison Simons Inc, wonders aloud if there's been too much focus placed on him in this interview as opposed to his staff, which has helped the fashion retailer remain an institution in Quebec City for 173 years. 
    It's a bit "weird" stealing all the spotlight, says Simons, 49, and equal credit must be given to his brother, Richard, vice-president of buying. Also critical are the 2,000-plus employees working on the sales floor to head office, he adds.
    As a fifth generation leader of the family-run shop he understands the importance of valuing people. Paying special attention to workers and customers is essential as Simons undergoes an aggressive national expansion just as competition in Canada's retail landscape is heating up with U.S. entrants like Target, Nordstrom and Saks expected to swallow share.
    Known for its mix of cheap-chic private label fashions and higher-end brands such as Stella McCartney and Paul Smith,

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  • 5Q: David Black, media mogul and wannabe oilman

    If you were to draw a pie chart of how David Black splits his time, there would be few slices. It's almost always business, says the 67-year-old founder of Black Press Group Ltd, Canada's largest privately-held newspaper publisher.
    Instead of golfing and sailing excursions, or even tinkering in the day-to-day operations of his newspaper empire that now boasts more than 170 titles in Western Canada and some parts of the United States, the Victoria, B.C.-based businessman is trying to muster support for his idea to build a $25-billion oil refinery near Kitimat, B.C., which he officially announced in 2012.
    The idea is simple, says Black, holding two jars of bitumen -- one raw, one diluted -- inside his waterfront home office. Nobody wants to export raw bitumen, but there's a big market in China for it where it is fueled by economic growth and a rise in auto sales, so why not refine and make it safer for shipment, says Black.
    Black hopes the biggest chunk of funding will come from China

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  • 5Q: Jim Leech, CEO of Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan

    Jim Leech, chief executive of one of the country's biggest pension plans, uses an old Russian folk tale to sum up the spirit of Canada's pension debate: A farmer is upset over the loss of his most productive cow and, given one wish, he'd like his neighbour's cow dead too.

    The call for pension reform is similarly shaped by envy, anger and fear, says Leech, head of the $130-billion Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, in his new book Third Rail:Confronting our Pension Failures. Those emotions make it easy for Canadians to ignore a situation that has been strained by meagre personal savings, low interest rates, unpredictable market returns and longer life expectancy.

    But we shouldn't turn a blind eye, argues Leech, who co-wrote the book with Globe and Mail journalist Jacquie McNish. Over the next two decades, more than seven million Canadians will retire from work and, unless major change occurs, many people are in for a big shock.

    Currently, more than 60per cent of Canadian workers aren't even

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  • 5Q: Victor Mehren, GM of Mars Chocolate Canada

    Just before Halloween Victor Mehren stocks up on Mars brand chocolates and decorates his Oakville, Ont., home with M&M's characters, inside and out. His goal, like so many other Halloween enthusiasts, is for his house to be the one kids count down to visit.
    It should be. Mehren is general manager of Mars Chocolate Canada and knows well it's that kind of thinking that has helped push to the top of global rankings tasty brands such as M&M's, Snickers and Dove/Galaxy, made by privately-held Mars, Inc, the global manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products.
    Mehren and others at the Bolton, Ont., office have been busy over the past months prepping for Halloween, a time when competition is especially fierce for the roughly $2.7-billion Canadian chocolate confectionery market, though Mehren, in a rare interview, preferred to keep things hush about hard numbers and growth strategies.
    Not surprising since the global chocolate confectionery landscape is dominated by a

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  • 5Q: Richard Peddie, ex-CEO of MLSE

    In the final pages of his new memoir Dream Job, Richard Peddie draws comparisons between what it takes to run a marathon and to lead a successful business.

    Working under high pressure. Having an addictive and compulsive personality. Keeping track of your progress in a journal. Those are key similarities, says Peddie, former president and chief executive of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which under his helm grew to be worth some $2 billion from $300 million in enterprise value.

    What gets measured gets done, adds Peddie, and his 15-year stint at MLSE is filled with sometimes agonizing moments of hitting the wall, and lessons learned from pushing through it. He's proud of running a handful of marathons with a personal best time of 2:46; of running several companies and never getting fired in his 40-year long career.

    However, many suggested he should have been fired, at least for his role in presiding over the perpetually inept Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC, a

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  • 5Q: Maureen Atkinson, retail inquisitor

    When Maureen Atkinson goes shopping she often leaves a store empty handed because browsing inevitably becomes work for the senior partner at retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group.
    She spends way more time in a store than intended, making mental notes about things most consumers might not even notice such as store layout, placement of merchandise and signage, as well as subtleties in customer service.
    Not unusual considering Atkinson's retail roots are deep, starting from working as a bakery clerk as a teen to becoming a merchandise manager at Eaton's, once Canada's largest department store chain. It was there Atkinson made the switch to the number-crunching side of the business.
    Fast-forward a couple decades and Canada's retail industry is currently undergoing massive change. Atkinson helps industry and the general public make sense of it all, whether its analyzing the impact of U.S. entrants like Target or commenting on the looming retail luxury war with the arrival of Nordstrom in

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  • 5Q: Mark Davies, chair of Turkey Farmers of Canada

    Talking to Mark Davies about turkeys is a lot like going on a field trip to a farm and learning about how to raise a flock, from the day birds arrive from the hatchery to being shipped off for processing.

    It's a topic Davies, chair of Turkey Farmers of Canada, the association that oversees the $378-milllion turkey industry in this country, knows well, having raised the birds on his family-run farm in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley for decades. What started out as a chore at the age of 12 has become a life long career.

    With Thanksgiving around the corner, turkeys will surely be in the spotlight. But in recent years, Davies and others in the industry have aggressively marketed the meat beyond festive seasons as an alternative to chicken, beef and pork. To put that into perspective, for example, there are roughly 530 turkey producers in Canada, compared to some 2,600 chicken producers, says Davies.  

    Davies sees the so-called "further processing" market, where the meat can be sized,

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  • 5Q: Rob Chaplinksy, Silicon Valley venture capitalist

    Rob Chaplinsky spends a lot of time in coffee shops talking about ideas with entrepreneurs, many of whom he says prefer a laid-back style of doing business.

    The 46-year-old Toronto native, who is managing director of Bridgescale Partners in Menlo Park, Calif., has been a venture capitalist for the better part of a decade. He's sunk money into projects like Rypple, a cloud-based human resources company acquired by, as well as Accelerant Networks, bought by Synopys.More than ever before, says Chaplinsky, Canada is on the map.

    That's partly because of the influential C100 group of Canadian execs based in Silicon Valley, of which Chaplinsky is a member. But entrepreneurs north of 49 are also garnering global attention, thanks in part to deals in recent years like's acquisition of Radian6, a social media monitoring platform, as well as IBM's purchase of Q1 Labs, a security intelligence software company.

    Remembering all the C100 mentoring, partnering and

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  • 5Q: Bob Rennie, Vancouver's 'Condo King'

    Up at 4:45 a.m. seven days a week, Bob Rennie wastes little time during the day as work and play mostly blends together for the 57-year-old, big-time real estate marketer, who is commonly referred to as Vancouver's charismatic "Condo King."
    This particular weekend morning, he's being driven around in an Audi S8 and stops in at White Spot, a West Coast restaurant chain known for its Triple-O sauce and kids Pirate Paks, to catch up with the "minister," he says, as in British Columbia's Housing Minister, Rich Coleman.
    Presumably no shortage of chitchat there given the latest round of data that adds to the seesaw, where's-the-house-market-headed debate, more than a year after Ottawa clamped down on mortgage lending rules.
    As founder of Rennie Marketing Systems, a leading real estate marketing firm in Vancouver, Rennie has promoted such projects as Fairmont Pacific Rim, where the condo portion was roughly $575 million, Shangri-La and Vancouver's 2010 Olympic Village, valued at roughly $1

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