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ARCHIVE: PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE



A Time for Renewal of Leadership

Anne Golden, President and CEO
The Conference Board of Canada
August 1, 2011

Serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Conference Board of Canada is an extraordinary privilege. It is an experience for which I will always be grateful, and leaving will not be easy.

But, in my view, the importance of regular renewal in any organization includes the role of chief executive. After more than 10 years, the time is right for the Conference Board to refresh itself with new leadership. Earlier this summer, I announced that I would step down as President and CEO in June 2012.

I came to the Conference Board in 2001 with a mandate from the board of directors to make broad and far-reaching changes. That mandate has been largely fulfilled.

I was charged with several strategic objectives: overhaul the business model, revitalize the brand of the Conference Board, and enhance the quality of products and services. We shifted the organization from one that depended on membership fees to a fee-for-service organization. We instituted a more rigorous quality review process to ensure that our research met the highest standards. We strengthened and refreshed the Conference Board’s brand, achieving a significantly higher profile for the organization.

By focusing the spotlight on several national issues, we helped move these critical challenges to the centre of public and political debate.

We enhanced leadership development and training at the Niagara Institute. We also reached out to forge partnerships, such as the first university-certified director education program in Canada—The Directors College—with McMaster University. We deepened the relationship with our sister organization in the United States, The Conference Board Inc.

In our research, we built on the Board’s long-standing strength in economic forecasting and placed a greater emphasis on public policy. By focusing the spotlight on several national issues, such as productivity, innovation, regulation, infrastructure, and sustainable cities, we helped move these critical challenges to the centre of public and political debate.

The Conference Board is unique in its ability to combine depth and breadth of knowledge. We launched several multi-year research projects, which paved the way for groundbreaking research on issues of concern to Canada’s leaders. The first of these, The Canada Project, culminated in the three-volume report, Mission Possible: Sustainable Prosperity for Canada. The Canada Project led to CanCompete, whose 25 studies over three years have emphasized changes in strategic direction needed to improve Canada’s competitiveness. As just one example, our International Trade and Investment Centre has brought fresh insights to Canada’s place in the global economy.

I take immense pride in what we have achieved together over the past 10 years, in delivering on our mission of providing leadership for a better Canada.

Recently, we created multi-year programs of research and dialogue along cross-cutting themes. The Centre for the North is developing a vision for sustainable prosperity in Canada’s North. The Centre for Food in Canada is tackling the safety, security, and sustainability of one of our mega-issues—food. In the past year, we launched the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care, which will analyze the sustainability of the Canadian health-care system. Our newest cross-cutting initiative is the Centre for Business Innovation, which is intended to help make major improvements to firm-level business innovation, thereby boosting Canada’s competitiveness.

All of this has been accomplished in the face of tightened corporate and government spending—to say nothing of an economic slowdown in 2001–02 and the recession of 2008–09. Despite these pressures, the organization has consistently improved its financial position over the past 10 years.

I owe this success to a stellar and committed staff, a talented senior executive team, and an exceptional board of directors. I take immense pride in what we have achieved together over the past 10 years, in delivering on our mission of building leadership for a better Canada. Best of all, I have had the cherished opportunity to do worthwhile things with worthwhile people.


Anne Golden Anne Golden
President and CEO
The Conference Board of Canada