The new Silicon Valley: How Canadian culture is driving tech startup success

Certn Chief Revenue Officer Rory Capern in the CBQ

The geographic capital of tech innovation is changing. Once holding the monopoly over tech startup success, Silicon Valley is falling victim to a barrier faced by major hubs of the past — they have centralized similar innovative minds but are now unable to pivot fast enough with changing global markets. To combat this issue, Silicon Valley is now outsourcing to acquire the new skills and traits necessary in the age of rapid tech innovation. This is where Canada and our wealth of homegrown talent comes into play.

Often deemed the hub for technological innovation and production, Silicon Valley is globally recognized as the unofficial destination for upcoming tech entrepreneurs and startups. However, with the growing number of major tech companies setting roots in alternative regions such as Georgia, Florida, Ontario and British Columbia – it’s important for emerging tech startups to note why a variety of Canadian cities are gaining notoriety for their tech innovation and skill. 

As the global job market widens, companies around the world are looking to Canada for remote talent, leading to possible brain drain as our brightest and best are recruited for established opportunities in other countries. While remote hiring has ample benefits for both employers and applicants around the world, rapid and excessive outsourcing of Canadian talent will have critical and long-lasting effects, including a catastrophic reduction in tech innovation and development of local startup economies. 

A fine balance between global hiring of Canadian talent and retaining Canadian innovators is more important than ever before. Recognizing the talents and skills within Canada, as well as the unique opportunities afforded to tech innovators by remaining in Canada, our nation can hold on to talent and continue to strengthen our reputation as a tech innovation capital.  

Differences in character between Canadian and U.S. entrepreneurs play a significant role in the growth of Canada as a tech centre, specifically in how Canadian entrepreneurs face challenges and seek collaboration. 

With 20 years of Canadian tech experience across a variety of regions, I have seen firsthand how willing Canadian entrepreneurs are to align resources and cooperate with other innovators, driving international growth. Less access to capital compared to startups in the U.S. or Europe also results in Canadian tech innovators doing more with less, exemplifying a strong value for resourcefulness and creativity. 

Canadians are gritty by nature, often acting faster and recognizing new opportunities before our global competitors. Often still in the earthly stages of growth, Canadian offices of international firms tend to act as “labs” for their global parents. As a result, these Canadian locations are often willing to try new things quickly, opening up vital market opportunities for entrepreneurial companies. 

Canadian innovators exemplify a stronger tolerance to risk, more often than not taking the large, yet calculated bets on new innovation, approaches to business or partnerships required to scale. This keeps Canadian startups generally one step ahead of the competition and able to capitalize on new opportunities for investment and innovation.

Across the country, tech hubs are sprouting up, including The Corridor — spanning from Waterloo to Toronto, spearheaded by Shopify, Google and D2L — and the growing tech hub in Metro Vancouver

The first major advantage to organizations looking to settle in Canada compared to major U.S. cities is the economic boost. The tax benefits, lower rent and easy access to talent via expanding remote opportunities allows startups to operate at a lower cost while achieving similar revenue results to conducting business in the U.S. As all startups aspire to achieve significant profit growth, basing headquarters within Canada makes good business sense.

Canadian-based startups also offer a unique benefit to their local ecosystems and are known for their ability to connect with local industries to accelerate innovation. Perfect examples include Shopify’s ability to spark local ecosystems surrounding e-commerce and drive the development of new breakout companies. Canada’s ability to share, collaborate and support others as an innovation community allows our startups the chance to excel.

Looking to the future of Canadian tech growth, Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, two integral technological innovations to solving a host of major global issues, are Canada’s strength. Continued innovation and funding within these ecosystems are vital and will ensure Canada continues to stake its claim as the new Silicon Valley.

During a time when global hiring and outsourcing of talent is growing exponentially, Canadian entrepreneurs need to be even more aware of the opportunities and talent present at home. National remote teams should be capitalized on, allowing diverse skills and ideas to be shared across growing innovation hubs, with the aim of increasing the quality of Canadian products and expanding operations. 

Recognizing and celebrating Canada’s ability to take on the identity of a new tech hub is not only beneficial in terms of topping the global ranking for tech innovation, but it solidifies what we already know — that we continue to be the underdog, able to excel with few resources and surpass the usual leaders. 

This also acts as a strong lesson for tech startups. If you have a great idea, it’s probably best to stay here. 

Rory Capern is the Chief Revenue Officer of Certn, certn.co.

Questions to consider when advancing your professional development in marketing

Jelly Digital Marketing & PR Founder Darian Kovacs

Getting started on your digital marketing career can be an exciting journey but can also be difficult to know which courses and certifications will be of the most benefit to you in helping you achieve your goals. There are many digital marketing bootcamps, courses, and programs to choose from, which can be a little overwhelming to understand which one will best propel you on your career journey. How can you know which course will help you land the job and have you feeling prepared when you’re actually working the job too? Well, there’s three questions you can ask and investigate when looking for a digital marketing bootcamp. 

These questions will help you understand the validity of the course as well as how useful it will actually be for you. Once you start looking at the courses available through this lens, it will be clear which ones you’ll walk away feeling great about or the others that will be more of a bust when it comes to enhancing your skills. Read on to find out what three questions will help you when searching for your digital marketing bootcamp!

What certificates will I walk away with when I’m complete?

When taking courses for digital marketing, your main goal is to walk away with certifications and recognition that will help you not only land jobs, but feel prepared for them. When you sit down to do your work everyday, you’ll want to feel ready and confident that you can navigate any task or project that comes your way. To ensure you receive this type of preparation, you’ll need to find a digital marketing course that provides qualified certifications that focus on the applied skills needed in your desired roles. This would include certificates such as Facebook Blueprint, Google Analytics, Google Ads and others that are highly relevant in the digital marketing industry. It’s important you do research on the types of jobs you want to land and succeed in, and which certificates will be appropriate for that position. 

In addition to developing the necessary skills, it’s important the course provides industry recognized certifications that you can achieve alongside your course as well as providing credentials that are external from the course itself. In the case of a school like Red Academy going bankrupt, it left students with nothing to show for their experience. By picking a course that uses evergreen and consistent certifications, it ensures you have those skills no matter what happens to the institution. Having evergreen certifications for digital marketing will be a key way to maintain a standing when the industry, and the bootcamps to educate the industry, are constantly evolving. 

How is the course taught? 

Is it live, on demand or a mix of both? How your digital marketing bootcamp is conducted will have a large impact on what you will take away from the course. The best way to take a digital marketing course is with a live format to get the most from the curriculum. Having a class that is live is great for the reason that you get fresh and current content that evolves with the industry’s needs. Digital marketing changes so much, even daily, and it’s important that these topics are live vs. pre-recorded so no important updates are missed. When taking a digital marketing course that is taught live, you’ll have an advantage when entering the job market by being knowledgeable on the current topics and trends. 

Additionally, by having a synchronous course, it allows students to participate and ask questions as the materials are presented. When you’re learning complex topics such as SEO, digital ads, PR, and social media, it can be hard to absorb all the content on your own without any additional questions. There’s many layers and additional teachings that go with each of these topics that could simply not be covered via a pre-recorded lecture. Jelly Academy is a digital marketing course that teaches all of these topics live and allows for interactive activities with students to participate in. This provides students with a well-rounded experience that has them feeling prepared and asking questions in class, opposed to feeling lost on the job.

Is there a good timeframe to complete the certifications? 

A reason to take a course in the first place is for accountability and assistance through the certifications and to successfully complete them. You should aim to finish all certifications while in your course in order to maintain the motivation and responsibility to finish. Otherwise you could be doing it on your own with free lessons you find on Youtube without the same educational value. Along with accountability, doing your certifications throughout your digital marketing bootcamp allows you to discuss questions, findings, or noteworthy pieces with your instructor. This is key for really digging deep and understanding the concepts of digital marketing. 

In addition to accountability and support in completing your certifications, if a course shapes the curriculum by finishing your certifications before graduation, this has you leaving the entire program completely ready to enter the job market. By the time you’ve completed your bootcamp, you will have various certifications along with the certification of the course itself, which will definitely be a boost to your resume!

These are the three questions that you should be asking before signing up for your digital marketing course. These specifics should help you find the right digital marketing program for you and your career goals and have you completing the course feeling positive and ready to get going in your career. The best thing you can do is research the course thoroughly and ensure it hits these three marks, along with any other goals you want to achieve by taking it. Once you decide on your course, enjoy the process and all the exciting tools you’ll learn in your education. Good luck on the journey!

Darian Kovacs is the Founder of Vancouver based SEO company Jelly Digital Marketing & PR, jellymarketing.ca.

The drastic changes occurring in corporate culture through Covid’s technology boom

Timereaction Co-founder Allan Diamond-in The CBQ

Management is currently scrambling to take a position into innovative technologies thanks to the cultural shift that has reared its ugly head over the past 18 months. The belief of the disruption in employee hiring and retention supported by the work-from-home movement has taken the facility away from corporations. Technology isn’t any longer a “nice to have”, but a requirement, and together with that, the fact that innovation initiatives frequently fail, or the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality hampers their performance.

From an administrative perspective, there could also be a transparent business strategy, but without the organization working in harmony towards a typical goal, the innovative strategy can fail. Success relies on three pillars to succeed; management’s will to speculate the resources, team leaders that evaluate the requirements to fulfil the mandate, and therefore the front-line workers who inevitably are required to utilize the technologies without proof of efficiency improvements.

In order to form an innovative culture, team leaders need to ensure that each one of the employees know that innovation is not an option. It must be woven into the culture of the business, with a transparent understanding within their performance descriptions and procedures, also because the perceived improvements that the innovation will help attain a higher life/work balance. Based on the changing work model, team leaders also are tasked with ensuring that there is not a decrease in productivity.

Innovative companies understand that success is not an on-the-spot result and must have the determination and endurance to adapt as the company evolves from the prevailing state towards the long run state. Failure is not the tip, but part of the educational process to implement further changes and must consider learning as an ongoing experiment.

Innovation is the resulting change in how the organization evolves and does not require changes in how people behave. For organizations to embrace innovation, teams must embrace the way that they interact at the local level, communicate across the created virtual workspace, and operate in a less structured environment.

With technologies that equal the playing field, management, team leaders and frontline employees must develop a sense of trust, eliminate the traditional hierarchy, and permit for a free flow of information across the corporation and celebrate risk and reward.

To compete on an ever-growing global scale, management must make efforts to inspire all levels of the organization to feel free to be creative where their voices are heard. With the scarcity of talented employees, organizations must learn to be lean, using the incredible technological advances we have seen over the past 18 months. Those who embrace this innovative strategy stand on the verge of becoming industry leaders at warp speed.

We now have the flexibility to permit employees to figure in a very reduced stress environment, contributing at every step of the process. Increased visibility across the entire supply chain creates a real-time communicative environment. This independence brings a newfound sense of purpose and community.

While most of the above has focused on the positive, as my subject line indicates, all is not as simple as it has been laid out. There are always individuals who fight change, are comfortable with the status quo, and do their best to sabotage the innovative initiative. My personal experience as founder of Timereaction exposed them to be the insecure employees, the ones that are just skating by, frightened that transparency will expose their inadequacies. This type of sabotage is discreet, whispering at the water cooler, referred to as workplace deviance, can destroy the efforts of months of planning, and engaged employee performance. These deviants may make up a minute percentage of the organization, but their impact cannot be overlooked. Like cornered rats clinging on to self-preservation, they seek out those that question the innovative intentions, and draw them into the dark side.

If such behavior is not detected and surgically removed like a cancer, workplace bullying can distract innovation throughout the organization, often targeting the best employees because they are the most threatening to their position. Of all the workplace environments that I have had the pleasure of participating in change management initiatives, these are the most dangerous of individuals, and the greatest cause of failure.

Allan Diamond is the Co-founder of Timereaction, www.timereaction.com.

Moving through organizational change together

The Outside Systems Change Strategist Tim Merry in The CBQ

Making an organization more equitable and inclusive is a process that goes beyond just agreeing with each other that ‘discrimination is bad’. With racial injustice, and therefore diversity in the workplace, being such a prevalent issue, it makes sense that the steps an organization takes to overcome these problems fall under scrutiny. Instead of putting emphasis on how we are different, there needs to be a focus on the work that brings everyone together. Organizations need to take action and encourage people to work together on a shared issue in order to overcome their differences. 

Through that “doing” we can bring about change, confront biases and stereotypes, and encourage growth and collaboration. If good processes are not followed, people can struggle to find what it takes to make a change. However, the right parameters can establish grounds that allow corporate and organizational cultures to make necessary changes and give people the tools to grow and develop. 

Focus on action to bring behavioural change 

Equipping people with tools and processes they can use is essential to achieving behavioural change. When people work together to overcome challenges, they put aside their differences and get to the task at hand. Being able to equip those within an organization with the knowledge and behavioral practices needed to come together in order to engage in shared work is key. Focusing on shared work will allow vested interests to flourish and ease friction that may have been shadowing them. 

Attitudes, behaviour, and structure are reciprocal 

Making an impactful change towards equity and inclusion doesn’t always start with changing someone’s attitude. While many see this as the first step, it is insufficient on its own for changing people’s behaviour. To make real change you also need to influence organizational leadership and impress the importance of a cultural shift. 

Statistically speaking, businesses get more white and male-dominated the closer to the top we look. This is where you need the change to happen. Changing behaviour comes from personal transformation and transformation within teams and departments. If the racist or biased issue is in the very fabric of the organization then it can be near impossible to change without leadership driving new policies and procedures at all levels of an organization. 

Moving through bias together 

It’s not uncommon for people to feel uncomfortable and judged when faced with addressing their biases. When we feel this way, there are two issues at play. One is the lack of access to information — understanding equity language and concepts in itself is exclusive. People can feel like the beliefs they were raised with are now being punished, simply because they didn’t have access to other points of view. The other is the idealistic way in which the move for change is often presented. When the need for change is presented as dogmatic, it will alienate those who fall into the “wrong” category, which automatically puts their defenses up and makes them want to reinforce their beliefs. 

If people focus on their actions and working together while collaborating with others, then you can change not only their attitudes and beliefs, but their work practices and relationships. To follow through, the focus still needs to be on the organizational structure to support those changes. 

Getting through “White Fragility” is necessary for change 

Issues with diversity and inclusion in the workplace aren’t a one sided issue. “Tackling these issues will require all of us to deal with things that are confronting and painful,” says Tuesday Ryan-Hart, Partner at The Outside, who leads organizations through systemic change

If work is at the center of what you’re doing, then problems become less personal. Instead of making each other the issue, give people a similar issue to focus on together. Shame is a tool of oppression, so remove the shame and get to work! Tuesday explains that “the best way out of guilt and shame is to take action.” So if someone is feeling attacked for being a white person with bias, they can be supported to embrace the discomfort of learning and change, and channel that feeling into working collaboratively with others. Making a lasting change takes a community effort and unwavering leadership and support. 

Don’t tell people, let them find their why 

When someone is intrinsically motivated they are more likely to believe in the changes they are trying to make. In order to help someone find their why you need to help them see the value in change by directing it through their work. Work only gets better when everyone appreciates the people they are working with and understand that they are all working toward something together. 

For those who feel uncomfortable with change, they need to find peace with what has been done in the past, whether by their forebears, their direct ancestors, or even themselves. Then, they can move forward with new knowledge. But acceptance around diversity is a challenging issue, and generally those who think they have the answer are missing something. More than just training, working together for a common goal can empower people and organizations to understand why it’s valuable to embrace change. Then, they will be prepared to take their own steps forward and create lasting, systemic change. 

The Outside brings together constellations of people from disparate teams, organizations, and jurisdictions to solve problems and scale impact. We have the missing piece of the puzzle: a practical understanding of the process and infrastructure of equitable systems change.

Tim Merry & Tuesday Ryan-Hart is the Systems Change Strategist of The Outside, www.findtheoutside.com.

How Brazilian cacao production supports local communities through sustainable farming

rio-de-janeiro-The-Canadian-Business-Quarterly

Canadian businesses are preparing to enter a post-pandemic world where environmental sustainability is of the utmost importance to consumers, paired with an increased desire to experience high-quality food and beverage products, whether that be at home or at a restaurant. Brazil has established processes that prioritize the protection of their native environments, economy and populations. Through inventive and tested policies and practices that lead to responsibly sourced products, Brazil has become an important exporter in the global market. In addition to offering products backed by environmentally sustainable and socially responsible cultivation methods, the fifth largest nation in the world also presents itself as a steadfast food importer as its vast and varied market for gourmet goods is hungrier than ever. 

Cacao and peanuts as examples of sustainable production

One of the products cultivated in the South American country that acts as an archetypal symbol of sustainability in agricultural production is cacao. “Not only does Brazil produce some of the planet’s highest quality cacao bean and chocolate – it also protects nature by doing so,” explains Andrea Mansano, Market Intelligence Coordinator at the Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC), a non-profit organization that has been facilitating trade between the two countries for nearly 50 years. “There are different types of cacaos in Brazil, the seventh largest global producer in volume, presenting a great variety of flavours and characteristics. One of the most sustainable and unique ways to produce cacao in Brazil is the Cabruca system, a method that is as innovative as it is inveterate.” 

The Cabruca system is based on shade planting under the canopy of forest trees. This technique provides ideal conditions for cacao and promotes biodiversity (it’s the agricultural system with the richest native biodiversity in the world). The system which has been used in the Brazilian state of Bahia for 200 years is characterized by the fact that cacao cohabitates in the shade, thriving on 30% sunlight and 70% shade, with other native species. Producers must plant native trees which has led to 400,000 hectares of cattle pastures in the state of Pará having given way to cacao plantation and native forests, and 565,000 hectares of cacao in Bahia with approximately 70% being produced in accordance with the Cabruca system. 

Chocolate made with Brazilian single origin cacao therefore brings with it two crucial characteristics for responsible food production. The first is environmental sustainability, since the Cabruca system is unparalleled when it comes to the preservation of natural resources, as it protects the Atlantic Rainforest. The second characteristic is social responsibility, as, besides having strict laws against child labor and forced labor, Brazilian cacao production system promotes the development in small local vulnerable communities.

The country’s cacao is grown in various biomes, and each produces fruits with unique characteristics, just like grapes produced in different terroirs yields unique notes in wine. Chocolate made with Brazilian cacao is globally revered for its refined taste and unprecedented quality, with cacao produced in Pará featuring more butter (58% where cacao produced in other tropical countries typically contains 52%) and has fat with a higher melting point than other cacaos. Public policies also incentivize cacao cultivation in this Amazonian region that yields such a high-quality product. This, teamed with the fact that Brazil is one of the few self-sufficient countries when it comes to producing ingredients for manufacturing chocolates and candies, has contributed to its global reputation for producing some of the best cacaos in the world, used in chocolates of the highest quality at the hands of not only Brazilian chocolatiers but also those around the world. 

Peanuts are another local product that represent sustainable and responsible production and desirable high quality. Around 90% of peanut cultivation and processing in Brazil takes place in the Mogiana and Paulista regions, in a system that rotates with sugarcane: every five to six years, 10-15% of the crop is reformed and replanted to recover land productivity, incorporate nutrients such as nitrogen into the soil and interrupt cycles of pests and weeds. The Agronomic Institute of Campinas developed four peanut varieties with high oleic content between 2011 and 2015, extending the shelf life of these Brazilian peanuts and making them highly competitive on the global stage. 

Brazil’s unwavering gourmet food market

Brazil and Canada share a long history of close economic relations, both ranking the other among their respective top 10 major investors. With a GDP of $1.445 trillion and with a population of nearly 215 million people, Brazil is one of the largest consumer markets in the world. In fact, the country’s trade relations with Canada have been consistent despite the effect the pandemic has had on global trade – to illustrate this, Brazilian imports from Canada of edible vegetables and certain roots increased by 50% in the fourth quarter of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.

Canadian companies can turn to the largest country in South America as a destination for their high-quality, gourmet food and beverage products. Over 20 million Brazilians,  which represents 10% of the country’s population (over half of Canada’s population) – is hungrier than ever for imported gourmet goods. While increased unemployment during the pandemic resulted in a decrease in expenditure on gourmet food items in many markets, this wasn’t the case in Brazil. Consistent demand for premium products can be found in the aforementioned wide and varied group of financially resilient consumers who are willing to pay more for high-end goods as they seek innovative flavours, single origin products and unique experiences. 

This progressively sophisticated consumer culture creates an unwavering demand for upmarket Canadian food and beverage products that appeal to an appetite for elaborate culinary styles. This market, known in Brazil as the “High Gastronomy” market, includes cheeses from boutique dairies and imported wines. To illustrate this enduring interest, Brazil’s cheese market represented US$ 5.2 billion in retail value in 2020 and is projected to expand to US$ 7.4 billion in 2025. Similar projected growth can be seen in the country’s demand for wines as in 2020 the market size had a volume of 289.8 million litres and is expected to hit 390.8 million litres in 2024.

The hospitality industry in Brazil is also enjoying exciting growth with a rise in popularity in Japanese and other Asian cuisines (especially in São Paulo where there are more than 3,000 restaurants in this category). This expansion has generated an increased demand for imported Canadian seafood including saltwater fish, snow crabs, lobster and scallops, the latter of which has become a frequent feature on the menus of some of the country’s finest restaurants. In fact, Clearwater Seafoods, a Canadian company, has found success in exporting their products to Brazil by making them available to foodservice providers daily and providing support in incorporating the ingredient in restaurant menus.

There exists in Brazil a largely untapped market for other Canadian specialty items including jams, maple syrup, duck meat and foie gras. By connecting Canadian and Brazilian companies, helping them evaluate market trends and navigate bureaucratic procedures, the CCBC is uniquely equipped to help bring sustainable products to Canada and supplying Brazil with unique Canadian food and beverage gourmet products.

Paulo de Castro Reis is the Director of Institutional Relations, Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada, ccbc.org.br. 

Conico Ltd: Polymetallic exploration in Greenland

Conico-Ltd-Executive-Director-Guy-Le-Page-In-The-Canadian-Business-Quarterly

An ASX-listed mineral explorer with assets in three sites across Greenland and Australia, Conico Ltd has recently received exciting news, having seen positive indicative results suggesting the presence of minerals at its Ryberg site.

Listed on the ASX (ASX:CNJ) in 2006, Conico Ltd has recently begun polymetallic exploration at two sites in Greenland. Executive Director Guy Le Page joined the Conico board in March 2006, and is currently assisting with the management of the Greenland exploration activities, which is now in its second field season. Mr Le Page has ten years of experience as a geologist and has spent over twenty years as a resource analyst and Corporate Advisor with RM Capital Group, where he is actively involved in a range of corporate initiatives from mergers and acquisitions, and initial public offerings, to valuations, consulting and corporate advisory roles. Mr Le Page spoke with us recently to explain the background of Conico, the details of its portfolio of projects, and the positive indicative results recently found at the Ryberg project in Greenland.

Multiple projects

Conico has two projects in Greenland, Mestersvig and Ryberg. The project area at the Ryberg site, where the company will be spending the entire of its second field season, is located within the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP), and has two prospects so far, Sortekap and Miki Fjord. 

Additionally, Conico is involved in a domestic project in Mount Thirsty, a cobalt/nickel project located 16km northwest of Norseman, Western Australia, which is a 50/50 joint venture with Barra Resources.

“The company was listed in 2006,” Mr Le Page explains. “It was a spin out from Tasman Resources Ltd, which I’m also on the board of. It had a portfolio of exploration projects in South Australia, and then moved into cobalt and nickel by acquiring the Mount Thirsty project.”

Mount Thirsty is Australia’s most advanced genuine cobalt project, and had a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) completed in 2020.​ The project is close to all necessary infrastructure and in a mining-orientated state. Since the completion of the PFS, cobalt prices have dropped, meaning the project will require a price rise to get it re-incubated.

“More recently, in late 2020, we finished the acquisition of Longland Resources, which had title to the Ryberg project in Greenland, and then subsequently we picked up Mestersvig to the north, so most of our activity has been directed towards Greenland [since then].”

The site at Mestersvig is a lead and zinc historical mine, which produced about 0.5m tonnes of 9% lead and 9% zinc back in the 1950s and early 60s. It is a large license area near the Danish military base, with good access and port facilities.

“We had intended to go and do some work [in Mestersvig] this year,” Mr Le Page says, “but ran out of time unfortunately. The main focus this year is at Ryberg, where we have got two prospects.”

A multi-element project spanning an area of 4,500 km2 area on the east coast of Greenland, Ryberg is an under-explored mineral province with a significant amount of magmatism that has intruded the sulphur-rich sediments of the Kangerlussuaq Basin.

Conico-Ltd-Executive-Director-Guy-Le-Page-in-The-Cabadian-Business-Quarterly-Drilling
This is the first diamond drilling programme that’s ever been undertaken in this part of east Greenland

“We got attracted to the project based on some high-grade nickel, copper, gold, cobalt and palladium assays on the surface,” Mr Le Page says. “They were taken by Longland a few years ago, and some of the sampling we did last year confirmed those results.”

Magmatic sulphides have been seen throughout the licence area, but most activities to date have focused on the Miki and Sortekap Prospects. Drill ready targets for potential disseminated to massive sulphide accumulations have already been identified via a high-resolution electromagnetic survey.

“We’ve had visual indications of mineralization that look encouraging. We haven’t got any assays back yet, but visually, we’re pretty encouraged by what we’ve seen. So a couple of big announcements and plenty of interest from the stock market, which is good.”

The company’s second field season has been in progress for about four weeks on the ground in East Greenland, with three rigs on site and a team working off a ship not far from the project area in Miki Fjord.

“[At] Miki Fjord we got some nickel, copper, platinum, palladium, gold and cobalt assays from the surface rock chipping that we’re following up, and I suspect that’s what we’ve been intercepting in the holes we’ve put down there so far. About 20km away at the Sortekap project, [we’ll have] predominantly gold, nickel and copper by the look of it.”

Conico’s exploration into its Greenland sites are still in the early stages, but the company’s longer-term strategy is already taking shape. The priority for 2021 has been to follow up on the surface rock chips found in Ryberg and see if the results could be replicated through drilling. 

“Miki has been the focus of about eight holes so far, seven of which have hit sulphides, anything from massive sulphide to disseminated, so that’s been pretty encouraging. We’re continuing to drill along a 50km strike length at approximately 1km to 1.5km intervals.”

Another area of focus is the maiden drilling programme at Sortekap. The last hole was finished recently, producing some high-grade magnetite containing disseminated sulphides, predominantly chalcopyrite and pyrrhotite.

“Field season will wrap up in early October this year, so that will conclude a three month drilling programme. There will be a lot of work coming up in October through to May, not only planning an early entry back into Greenland in May, but also analysing all the assays and re-logging core from this years field season.”

The company will be assaying for a large suite of metals, and already knows there are large zones of mineralization, so the excitement is building around seeing the assays to find out more specific information about what is present with good results likely to prompt an expanded programme for the 2022 field season.

Conico-Ltd-CEO-Thomas-In-The-Canadian-Business-Quarterly
CEO Thomas Abraham James is a geologist and founder of Longland Resources currently based in Greenland

Executive team

As the company gathers pace and builds towards more focused activity, the executive team is working primarily in a part-time capacity, the idea being that with some good results in Greenland the people working on a full-time basis will be added to.

“The main driver of the project is [CEO] Thomas Abraham James, who is a geologist and founder of Longland Resources. He’s been based on site in Greenland, managing this programme, so he’s been exceptionally busy managing people, rigs, food, logistics. It’s been a very busy three months, and looks set to continue for the next couple of months.”

The executive team is completed by Mr Le Page and Chairman Greg Solomon, who has practised as a commercial/corporate lawyer in WA for over 25 years. Non-executive members Doug Solomon and James Richardson make up the remainder of the Conico team.

“The next milestone will be to get all the assays back from this field season, because we haven’t been able to ship many samples out yet. We’re trying to ship one lot out at the moment, but we should have all the assays back in November/December this year.”

The potential is there for all to see, and Conico will now be looking to build on the positive indicative results it has seen in the Ryberg region, with potential investors having an eye on results due later in CY 2021.

“Logistics are challenging,” Mr Le Page concludes, “but I think the prize is pretty big. It’s the first diamond drilling programme that’s ever been undertaken in this part of east Greenland, so we’re all pretty excited to see what comes of it.”

With a very promising set of early findings at its Ryberg site, the future looks bright for Conico’s polymetallic exploration in Greenland. Find out more about Conico Ltd by visiting conico.com.au

Effective asset management starts with good assets

PEMAC Former Director Leonard G. Middleton - In the CBQ

From a long career in engineering, project management, maintenance, reliability, and asset management, here are some of my observations and related thoughts. My experience has taught me that there is a very direct link between effective asset acquisition (project selection and execution), and effective asset operation (asset operations and maintenance) in providing value to the organization.

Initial step in improving performance in asset intensive organizations

From the ISO-55000 standard, an asset “has potential or actual value to an organization”, and asset management is “coordinated activity of an organization to realise value from assets.”

From an organizational strategy viewpoint, an organization’s physical assets are the physical embodiment of their actual asset management strategy. Confusion and credibility problems can occur when the clear statements made by those physical assets are in conflict with the organization’s stated asset management strategy.

Assets have a significant impact on revenue derived from Operations and on O&M (Operations and Maintenance) costs for the life of the asset. Once an asset is in physical form, it can be difficult to improve revenues and O&M costs significantly.

Getting it right at the beginning is a much more effective use of limited resources (capital, people, and timeliness of opportunities), than trying to manage the deficiencies from substandard physical assets. In many cases if not done right, the assets remain in the compromised state, as it is often not technically, or economically, or politically feasible to address the deficiencies.

It may not be technically possible to physically change the asset to reduce the deficiencies significantly. Given the required amount of time and money (CAPEX and lost revenue) to implement, it may not be possible to put together a compelling business case for further change. Furthermore, organizations and the individuals who manage them do not like to admit they have made mistakes in the initial project, so the political will to identify errors and make significant changes rarely exists.

To provide the greatest organizational value, assets need to be suited for their intended use. Functional requirements for physical assets should include required quality standards and operating rates, as they impact revenue. Requirements should also include allowances in operations scheduling for scheduled maintenance, and identify and specify requirements for reliability and maintainability, as they affect output, revenue, and maintenance costs.

Importance of physical assets to organization

Changes to physical assets may be made to address a combination of regulatory requirements, strategic objectives, or to improve business performance. Improvements to business performance can include improvements in customer perceived quality of product or service offering (improving marketability or margin). It can also include Economies of Scale with increases to production or service volume resulting in higher profitability, or Economies of Scope with flexibility in volume or customization of service or product offering potentially reducing costs or improving customer service related to variable market volume or offering. Or it may be improvements to financial performance through reducing labour costs, variable costs, or overhead costs.

In asset intensive industries, effectiveness of capital investment is often measured through ROA / RONA (Return On Assets / Return On Net Assets). To increase overall ROA, a new initiative requires greater return than the average organizational ROA, while remaining within the organizational risk tolerance.

For projects, if we visualize the cumulative cash flow versus time during project execution and through the operating phase, it has the traditional project execution “S” curve with the gradual increase in spending as more resources get added and more work gets done, through to a higher “cash burn rate” during execution, then tapering off toward project completion. The project deliverables then get put into service potentially with a gradual ramp up through commissioning, finally going into full rate of operations generating cash based upon revenue generated and the related O&M costs. The slope of the cash flow versus time during the operating phase, is the project return versus time, and is greatly impacted by the project deliverables. Eventually the project break even point will be reached when the money invested in the project deliverables is recovered by the cash flow generated through the operation phase.

When things go wrong with project execution, often the impact is to the budget or the schedule, and it is obvious when the budget or schedule compliance is not met. Hence project managers focus closely to manage both budget and schedule. Depending upon the severity of the non-compliance, it can be a short-term issue in managing cash flow until the project deliverables pay back the investment.

Often the bigger long-term lifecycle issue is project deliverables. If the return versus time related to the deliverables is lower than forecast, then it will delay the project payback and this may not be obvious immediately, but only investigated after some time has passed. This lower return will continue for the duration the assets remain in that suboptimal configuration. Unlike the short-term impact of project budget and schedule non-compliance, this can be a permanent state, as operational or procedural changes can only go so far, and require intense management focus. The magnitude of operational improvements is constrained by the capability of the assets.

A common contradiction in asset management strategy is where an organization is aspiring to be a “world class” operation, but the dominant selection criteria for suppliers and service providers is “low bid”. In that situation, the aspiration is unlikely to be achieved. When making investments, the focus should be on value relative to cost, not just cost alone. Short-term focus on project related costs only and not value, can compromise the level of benefits from the project deliverables, and reduce the ROA.

In one severe case observed, a client made such poor decisions in vendor selection and project execution, that the site never operated above 70% of plant design nameplate. That resulted in an extremely poor operation and a poor return on their investment.

Recommendations for assets to provide more value to organization: Be smart in selecting and investing in physical assets

Use a structured evaluation process and include scoring for key organizational priorities. Strategic objectives, mandatory requirements, risk, and required timing / urgency / dependencies, as well as the financial measures should all be considered. The focus is on reducing subjectivity in selecting investment initiatives, and focusing on organizational values. Where appropriate, focus on increased revenue, as cost reduction can occur during operation, only if the assets are appropriate to their intended use.

Identify all dependencies of initiatives as the benefits are unlikely to be fully achieved without implementing them all. An example is implementing transactional software (ERP, CMMS, etc.) to achieve significant benefits, assuming a change in processes to achieve those benefits, not just automating existing transactional processes which only reduces incremental labour costs. Without the investment in redesigning processes and training in the new processes or software, it is unlikely to achieve the desired benefits on transactional efficiency only, and therefore unlikely to provide the required return on investment.

Identify all resources required for success of initiatives including changes to OPEX and required CAPEX to achieve specified benefits, and the value of in-house resources (quantity and skill) required. Initiatives that use in-house resources should not skew evaluation against those using outside resources. Those in-house resources could provide value to the organization doing other work, if they were not doing project related work.

Perform incremental analysis of initiatives and evaluate changes to potential benefits of incremental increases of the investment. Determine if the additional expenditure will increase the overall ROA of the initiative. For example, a one percent increase in CAPEX may increase the return by a significant amount, and well below the point where diminishing returns come in. Incremental analysis is counter to the common practice of constraining costs to the point where it often reduces the value from the deliverables thereby reducing the resulting ROA. This adverse result may occur through not fully understanding where the benefits come from and what dependencies are required to achieve the full benefit. Often in these situations it is assumed the benefit is achieved without making the full investment. Understand that the law of diminishing returns works at both extremes. As you decrease costs past a point, the value of the benefit you forgo, may be much greater than the money saved.

Involve the end-users in development and evaluation of initiatives to get their knowledge and perspectives in defining the issues that need to be addressed and the development of effective solutions. Their involvement in identifying the issues and potential solutions will improve their buy-in on the chosen solution, which can greatly increase the success of the initiative. This may require additional effort by project and engineering technical resources to effectively communicate with non-technical end-users.

Be smart in project execution

Use the resources needed to effectively execute. Using competent and motivated resources with available time allocated to effectively support the project, are critical for success. A competent project manager capable of managing the critical project execution aspects, including risk, project planning, people management, time management, and adapting to unexpected events, and with sufficient time allocated to manage all their roles, is also critical for project success. It is not unusual for members of the project team to need to manage multiple tasks or projects, but there must be enough time allocated to manage all the required work.

Involve end-users in the project execution team to make better decisions using their different perspectives and increased knowledge base, combined with that of the project team specialists. Similar to the discussion above on selecting initiatives, their involvement also improves buy-in with the end user group who can have much to say about how successful the project was. This too can require additional effort and time from the project technical specialists to effectively communicate with the non-technical people.

Plan well, and watch for and manage deviations from the project plan. Effective project planning is fundamental to good project management, and the capability of the project manager is critical to its success. One of the truisms of project management is “we do not plan to fail, but may fail to properly plan”.

Improve cash flow during Start-up by planning the ramp-up phase effectively. During start-up, it needed the resources prepared and available for use. These include documents (current drawings, manuals, SOPs, maintenance tactics, job plans, BoMs / spare parts lists, etc.), supporting spares and special tools. And have trained competent resources to operate and maintain project deliverables to support optimal ramp-up.

Check how smart the investment was

Evaluate project deliverables, after the assets have been in service for sufficient time for proper performance evaluation. Evaluate the deliverables performance relative to what the project initiative promised. Evaluation should include all actual one-time project related costs, both CAPEX and OPEX during the early operating phase. Sometimes OPEX is used to address project deficiencies that were not resolved during the project phase, and should be included in project costs to determine what the actual investment was as part of evaluation for consistency in evaluation between projects.

Use performance of project deliverables as a critical measure of project success (O&M costs, quality, output, etc.). Weight its performance high within the organization for its long-term value generation and impact on lifecycle costs, relative to shorter-term impact of project budget and schedule compliance. Effective project deliverables can over time offset the impact of the budget and schedule non-compliance. A project with poor project deliverables done on time and on budget, remains a bad project with its negative long-term impact.

Review the structured evaluation process to ensure the priorities are correctly reflected in the scoring, including dependencies. Determine if the right projects are being approved, and that lower priority projects are not approved over higher priority projects. Adjust scoring and weighting systems to improve evaluation process results, as required.

The bottom line is that the organizational culture needs to be embedded with the philosophy that addressing assets at the beginning, will achieve the best performance for the organization. This is especially important at the top of the organization where investment decisions are typically made, but where potential outcomes and how the value is provided may not be fully understood.

Leonard G. Middleton is a Former Director of PEMAC, www.PEMAC.org.

Addressing the myths facing the Canadian charity sector

Harmonia Philanthropy-Lois Graveline-In-The-CBQ

Having hung my hat in the charitable sector for the past 31 years, I have reflected time and time again through conversations with people, that an ongoing and negative perception exists regarding Canada’s charitable sector.  How can it be that the very sector that has protected, nurtured, provided refuge and basic necessities to those most vulnerable since the early 1900’s, be so misunderstood? How is it that the social construct that has demanded the necessity of the 86,000 registered charities and 84,000 not-for-profits across the country, be the very one that considers the fair and appropriate salaries of staff to be less a concern for charities than with the for-profit sector? It’s important to note that I don’t offer these reflections lightly or as a judgement on those who don’t live and breathe all things philanthropic, but rather as impetus to drive important advocacy of the sector forward. 

Even as a ‘seasoned’ fundraising professional, I still find myself astounded by the impact the sector has on the economy as only one measurement of its viability and value within our country and communities. Employing 2.4 million people (approximately 10% of Canada’s full-time workforce) and utilizing the support of 13 million volunteers (equivalent to 2 billion volunteer hours each year), the charitable sector accounts for a whopping 8.5% of Canada’s GDP or $169 billion dollars. Downright impressive isn’t it? 

Yet somehow there are a couple of very disappointing myths that I continue to hear floating around – perhaps as a way for donors to seek transparency and accountability or perhaps as an easier way to rationalize our own philanthropic shortcomings. Either way, I feel responsible to do my part to better inform the donor population one conversation or opportunity at a time.

The first myth I’d like to unpack is that the majority of donor dollars goes towards salaries and operations and not the organizations’ mission

According to CanadaHelps, 90% of donor dollars is directed to charitable activities; 9% is spent on administration and 1% on direct fundraising costs. Additionally, the Charities Directorate of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) closely monitors and guides charities through a rigorous process called a Registered Charity Information Return or T3010. This filing includes the charities’ financial statements and other essential information that holds charities accountable for every dollar spent. This process ensures complete transparency so that donors can feel assured that their generosity is being stewarded properly.  

For instance, CRA would not deem it acceptable for a charity to spend more than 70% on fundraising expenses and would almost assuredly trigger the revocation of its official status. Generally speaking, CRA considers fundraising ratios of 35% or less to be acceptable although most organizations aspire to reach somewhere between 20%-30%, and lower if possible. It is important to acknowledge that a very unfair double-edged sword exists that makes it exceedingly challenging for charities to ensure that donor confidence remains intact. A case in point is the use of professional accountants and auditors who for most organizations, would be financially prohibitive yet at the same time would be ideal to ensure public trust. It’s kind of a ‘no-win’ situation for them.

Myth number two highlights the concern that most charities enjoy large staff complements 

When in fact CanadaHelps confirms that 80% of charities raise less than $500,000 in revenue per year; 91% employ fewer than 10 full-time staff and 58% are run by volunteers. This means that most organizations are, in fact, “small shop” operations, each grappling with the challenge of delivering on their mission with limited resources. From securing skilled staff, to ensuring talented and experienced fundraiser(s) are in place, to scrounging through all clearance bins at Staples for office supplies, to bartering with companies to obtain used office furniture; the task of ensuring that the organization continues to honour its mission with the very modest budgets they have is nothing short of extraordinary. I know this because I lived through the ‘small shop’ reality on more than one occasion throughout my career and it requires a healthy dose of courage to survive when the odds are seemingly always against you. As much as possible, I try to weave this reality into conversations with people in an attempt to share important insight that may very well be the impetus needed for increased donations to the charitable sector. Or at least I like to think so.

Finally, I am very eager to share this last point that I am particularly proud of. I would be willing to place a significant bet on the fact that if you were to poll Canadians on their understanding of where the charitable sector fits within Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), they would either not be aware that it ranks at all within this important economic index, they would likely rank it as being low. I understand why this perception exists as the charitable sector is often thought of as a ‘feel good’ sector. Full of ‘do-gooders’ who ideally volunteer their services/skills so that more money raised goes towards the cause. Am I right?

In fact, the charitable sector ranks as the 3rd largest segment of Canada’s economy – it contributes an impressive 8.5% of our country’s GDP. More than the transportation and agricultural sectors, which on its face seems impossible but nonetheless is the reality. 

I often wonder what society and our local communities would look like if this sector did not exist. What happens to the women who are fleeing domestic violence with children in tow? Or how exactly does life-saving hospital equipment become available when the government’s financial support does not go beyond the bricks and mortar and operational costs? What about all the medical research that is being done every day to advance the treatments and controls for diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis? As a past employee and consummate supporter of Cystic Fibrosis Canada, I have enjoyed a front-row seat to the extraordinary research accomplished that has led to 50 percent of Canadians with cystic fibrosis being expected to live into their early 50s and beyond, and 60 percent of all people with cystic fibrosis in Canada living into adulthood. In the 1960s, most children did not live long enough to attend kindergarten.

As the Honourable Terry M. Mercer put it in his 2019 Report on a roadmap to a stronger Charitable Sector, “the charitable and non-profit sector has suffered from benign neglect for too long.”

There is no doubt that charities play a critical role in communities right across Canada, providing expertise and support to every aspect of our lives, such as healthcare, education, alleviation of poverty and the environment, among many others. The sector equally reigns when it comes to advocacy and important policy changes such as donation incentives; tax credits and vital legislation that ensures the rights of our BIPOC population. Yet somehow there is this disconcerting and persistent assumption that charities should operate on a dime that in any other context (i.e., the transportation sector) would absolutely not fly.  

So, I ask you this: Can we, as responsible and compassionate citizens of this great country afford to perpetuate these myths and misconceptions that have likely impacted our collective power to do great things for those who are in need of our help? You don’t have to look far to reach this same conclusion; your family, your neighbourhood, and perhaps your own experiences are shining examples, beacons of the essentialness of charitable organizations and the volunteer base that supports them. Where would we be without them?  What would happen to our loved ones without them? And what can we do today to help enlighten and enlist the support of others who may very well need this same nudge to enact meaningful change of thought – change of action and finally, change of heart.

Lois Graveline is the Founder & CEO of Harmonia Philanthropy, www.harmoniaphilanthropy.ca.