Multiculturalism is Key to Innovation: Can Canada Become the World's Talent Magnet?

Posted by Rob Lewis

Earlier this week Salesforce hosted 5,000 of their users and fans at a mini Dreamforce road show in Canada’s largest city.

The day included a power-packed panel moderated by Salesforces’s Peter Coffee that included some Internet heavyweights—well at least the Canadian head honchos.

The panel consisted of Google Canada Managing Director Chris O’Neill, Facebook Canada Managing Director Jordan Banks, Accenture’s Beth Boettcher, and Salesforce’s own Daniel Debow (a cofounder of Canadian Rypple which was acquired by Salesforce in 2011).

Titled "Innovation in Canada: Putting Canadian Businesses Online," Coffee kicked off the panel asking them what they see as some of the unique strengths and opportunities of the Canadian market. All were in agreement that Canada’s unique multicultural makeup is what it apart from other countries striving to create an "innovation nation."

Facebook’s Banks reminded the audience that one in five Canadians was not born here. And Coffee provided some additional local context, stating that almost 50% of Torontonians don’t have Canada on their birth certificate.

“You get people coming to Canada to make better lives for themselves and that’s really fundamentally one of the reasons why they’re here and with that comes this incredible work ethic that you don’t necessarily find elsewhere,” added Banks.

Expanding on that thought, Banks believes the vast majority of these immigrants have entrepreneurship in their DNA: “they’re merchants, they’re traders, they’re creators. And they bring that to Canada.” And with that they bring a global perspective that forces all Canadians to “think outside the boundaries of Canada which ultimately is where our destiny lies."

Not surprisingly this topic is one that the Managing Directors of the Canadian outposts of Internet giants can agree on.

Google’s O’Neill concurs with Banks but doesn’t stop there. O’Neill’s innovation agenda for Canada requires the flow of immigrant talent to continue. “I would say that immigration policy is an important part of it so we have to, I’d say absolutely must, keep our doors wide open to talent, technical talent from all over the world," he said.

O’Neill points to the Canadian government’s recent efforts to detour immigration-challenged entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley with a highway billboard as a worthy tactic. But he doesn’t stop there.

Canada has “great quality of life, very liveable cities, world class institutions and higher education institutions doing great research in mobile and doing fantastic things in beginning stages of quantum computing,” opined O’Neil. Add to that Canada’s proximity to the largest consumer market and O’Neill believes we should be celebrating Canada and its opportunity to be a world leader.

Saleforce’s Coffee succinctly wrapped up the Canada love before the panel moved on to other topics: “You guys are talking human capital big time here, and not only home grown, but also saying you are going to be the world’s talent magnet—the place where people with energy and initiative come to be successful and that’s a tremendous mat to be rolling out.”

Company:
Google
Website:
http://www.google.com
Location:
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. As a first step to fulfilling that mission, Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed a new approach to online search that took root in a Stanford University dorm room and quickly spread to information seekers around the globe. Google is now widely recognized as the world's largest search engine --... more

Company:
Facebook
Website:
http://www.facebook.com
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet. more

Company:
Salesforce.com
Website:
http://www.salesforce.com
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Salesforce.com is the enterprise cloud computing company that is leading the shift to the Social Enterprise. Our trusted cloud platform and apps—including our flagship CRM solution—help employees collaborate easily and connect with customers like never before. And thanks to the cloud, all of it comes with low cost, low risk, and fast results. Our 100,000+ successful customers tell the story best. more


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Rob Lewis

Rob Lewis

Rob is the President of Techvibes Media and Editor-in-Chief of Techvibes.com.  His diverse background includes stints in International Trade Finance, Web Development, and Enterprise Software and he is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Simon Fraser University. When not running Canada's leading technology media property, Rob can be... more



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