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Canada’s geographic proximity to the United States of America is deceptive. Long-distance observers might assume a close relationship based on an easy flow of goods, services and people, but they would be mistaken. Mobility is restricted, and exports from Canada to the USA may be high at 80 percent of total revenue but the resulting vulnerability to fluctuations in the dollar is a major concern. This means that Canada must continue its own process of economic development and transformation, using its natural resources and talented people to do so.
Canada has distinguishing national characteristics that give it a strong, independent identity. Despite the fact that 90 percent of Canadians live within 300km of the southern border of the USA, close observers argue that Canadians seem more European’ than American.’
Canadians embrace cultural diversity and are renowned for their openness, warmth and collaborative nature. “A general win-win attitude pervades the population and, in the business community, creates executives who are natural motivators and team builders,” says Sussannah Kelly, Managing Director at Boyden in Toronto. “These people are good at nurturing both individuals and large groups.”
As a country, Canada’s commercial expertise and understanding of global issues align it with different populations and industries. The financial services market links Canadians to executives in New York and London; its mineral base resonates with the industries in Chile, Switzerland and Argentina; Alberta’s oil and gas resources connect it to Houston; and climate change concerns match those of Nordic populations.
Canada is known as a branch country’ where US corporate headquarters groom high flyers. “CEOs-in-waiting are sent to Canada to gain experience across the corporate spectrum, rather than having to learn piecemeal as a regional head in the USA,” says Rod Malcolm, from Boyden Toronto.
However, the challenge for Canadian branches of large multinationals is to secure a greater strategic role within their companies’ global networks. “We advise our clients headquartered in the United States to focus on candidates who can create sustained value and thereby claim a stronger role in the company,” says Malcolm.
The potential of Alberta in the west makes it the country’s fastest-growing economic region. The development of its oil sands demands exceptional levels of investment and environmental obligation, inspiring world class technological innovation. Royal Dutch Shell is considering storing emissions underground, using technology still in its infancy. Calgary’s business center offers a business-friendly tax structure and low operating costs an attractive environment in which to set up an oil and gas company. “You only have to look at Calgary’s serial oil entrepreneurs’ to understand the kind of talent we have here people who combine skills in innovation, structured finance, strategic growth and environmental responsibility,” says Brent Shervey, Managing Director at Boyden in Calgary.
Toronto, the biggest city in the Ontario region, frequents the list of most livable’ cities in the world. The lifestyle in Canada affordable real estate, healthcare provision and excellent education institutions makes it a smoother run for clients repatriating Canadians and attracting US citizens. And opportunities are very good — Ontario is the heart of manufacturing and Toronto is Canada’s financial center.
Boyden’s team in Toronto brings to life the country’s affinities with other markets, teaming with offices across the network. “Multinationals are well served by Boyden’s expanded team in Canada, with a depth of experience gained from working extensively with investment bankers and board committees, particularly in Toronto,” comments Sussannah Kelly.