Abusive Leaders, Wounded Workers

“I hate to have to speak to you about this Paul [all names have been changed]… but I feel I have to... I can’t go on like this… Sarah’s bullying is too much for me”. Sarah reports to Paul and is his star performer. “She often humiliates me in team meetings: ‘You’re dropping the ball Jake! You’re letting us all down! Hell, you’re letting me down! Get a grip!’ Paul, it’s reached the point where I can’t sleep at night. I’m stressed out … It’s affecting my home life…”

This is one of the most distressful conversations an employee and executive can have. The extremely competitive work environment of Paul’s company produces executives and managers with high-pressure, often aggressive working-styles. Sarah’s was at the very high end of the spectrum and she alienated many of her co-workers. Jake’s accusation of bullying was very serious, and Paul knew he had to act. The company has a robust workplace harassment policy and Paul immediately launched an investigation plan. After a thorough investigation by HR, Sarah’s interpersonal behaviour was judged abusive and unacceptable. Many of her co-workers were deeply wounded emotionally and psychologically. It would take time and support for them to heal. The company hired coaches to work with the working wounded. I was engaged to coach Sarah.

Abusive leaders, such as Sarah, lack psychological insight into the emotional distress their aggressive behaviour causes co-workers and the disruption it brings upon the organization. They have blinders and are in denial. They don’t realize that their behaviour is unacceptable or abnormal. Their organizations see them as being immune to change and often tolerate/enable their destructive behaviour. For management, executive coaching often represents the last chance these employees have prior to dismissal.

When we look more deeply into their behaviours, we detect that abusive leaders are fundamentally fearful that perceived threats to their competence will jeopardize their professional survival. Their anxiety then escalates, leading to increasingly defensive and aggressive behaviour.

For these leaders, perceived threats include people who may challenge their points of view: bosses, colleagues, staff or outside stakeholders. They regard the perceived 'incompetence' of team members as undermining their own professional competence. Their anxiety leads typically to flight or fight responses. The flight response can manifest itself by withdrawal (e.g., lack of engagement in management meetings). The fight response is exhibited through aggressive behaviour – e.g., demeaning other people’s capabilities, public humiliation and intimidation. The fight behaviour can range from minor to severe. Sarah’s behaviour was at the severe end.

My coaching of clients like Sarah is predicated on the following premise: Attempts at convincing such leaders to change their behaviour will typically fail. Why? Because they lack self-awareness and strongly deny the impact of their behaviours on others. Instead, I have found the following multi-phased approach to be very useful in addressing abusive behaviour.

In the first phase, I conduct a 360 assessment to collect valuable information that will help gauge the impact of the leaders’ negative behaviours on employees, colleagues and relevant stakeholders. This is supplemented by shadow coaching and by my own observations from working with them. When I present these findings to the leaders, they are often unpleasantly surprised to learn that their aggressive behaviours, rather than their competencies and objectives are the main focus of other people. They now see clearly that the negative perceptions of their behaviours are overshadowing their technical competence, and threatening their professional survival. Their anxiety skyrockets.

In the second phase, I find that these leaders are now more open and willing to partner with me to:

  • Identify what behaviours generate people’s negative perceptions of them
  • Determine what can remove these negative perceptions, and prevent their return
  • Identify and stimulate more productive relationships

The last phase of the process requires them to adopt and integrate their new interpersonal patterns of behaviour.

Abusive leaders’ behaviours are a scourge to the wellbeing and productivity of organizations. The emotional distress they cause co-workers and the disruption they bring upon organizations can be truly devastating. Unfortunately, all too often, they are identified and acted upon only when much of the harm has already been done.

Generating effective, lasting change to abusive leaders’ behaviours is not easy, fast, nor assured. I have been quite successful in coaching a number of abusive leaders using the approach described above, but not all.



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The Private/Public Management Divide

Some of my executive clients share that they are attracted to government by the desire to improve service to the Canadian public in a more cost efficient way. They appreciate not being chained to quarterly results, allowing for more considered long term goal setting. They complain, however, about their difficulties in transitioning from the private sector to the public sector. They are challenged by what they perceive as the inadequacies and ineffectiveness of public administration. Some have argued that government should adopt standard business practices. One client related that it took him a full year to transition from the private enterprise to his new public sector position. He had been hired chiefly due to his business expertise as a results-oriented executive. Once on the job, however, he found the corporate public sector culture averse to his management style. He concluded that he was failing. It took time and considerable self-awareness for him to understand that he would have to adapt his leadership approach to be successful in his new reality. Having worked in both the private and public sectors, I understand the challenges these executives face and the frustrations they feel.

My experience coaching these clients has led me to reflect on the nature of leadership in the private sector and government. Leadership is unquestionably challenging in any environment. At the macro level, there are similarities in management practices between the two sectors. Both are comprised of organizations with diverse sizes, budgets and missions. And, their leaders have similar tasks, including:

 Strategic planning and succession planning  Managing and motivating employees  Ensuring their own leadership competencies remain at peak levels of efficiency  Maintaining/improving organizational operations and performance  Leading organisational change  Balancing multiple and often shifting priorities, and  Influencing stakeholders

Private sector organizations operate in a corporate or entrepreneurial environment. They are market-driven, with particular emphasis on economic efficiency. Their primary focus is on optimising profits and shareholder value. While the size, dollar value, and complexity of many federal and provincial government departments and agencies exceed those of numerous private sector companies, their objectives cannot be measured in the same manner. Public sector goals are not as straightforward and there is rarely a clear profit and loss bottom line. In Canada, government departments and agencies generally focus on regulatory implementation of legislation, managing government programs, and on providing direct and indirect services to multicultural and geographically dispersed stakeholders. Their success is measured by the efficacy of their service to the public.

Thus, not surprisingly, there are significant differences in management practices between the private sector and government. Two key areas should be highlighted: compensation (including financial incentives to motivate executives) and managing employees. Private sector companies rely heavily on financial incentives and perks to attract and keep high performing executives (e.g. often large bonuses, stock options, company vehicles, expense accounts). The federal government, for its part, offers a system of performance pay, based on “at-risk” remuneration and bonuses, designed to attract qualified managers. While typically entry-level executive salaries are comparable to those offered in the private sector, the salary gap widens appreciably as executives climb the corporate ladder. In some cases, executive government salaries are lower than those of their direct reports (Kathryn May, “PS executives want pay raises and a review of how they are paid”, iPOLITICS. April 26, 2018). Such scenarios are demoralizing for government executives.

Private sector and government leaders manage employees under different circumstances. Government employees are generally well-paid. One study estimates that they earn a 7% to 10% wage premium in Canada over their private sector counterparts; perhaps more when their defined benefit pension plan is included (Charles Lamman and al., “Comparing Government and Private Sector Compensation in Canada”, Fraser Institute Bulletin, December 2016). Government managers also have less discretion in addressing underperforming employees due to protections enshrined in collective agreements. Many government executives lament the complexity and time it requires to hold these employees to account, including removing them when appropriate. Private sector leaders do not face this problem - at least not to the same degree.

There are similarities, differences and critical nuances between private sector and government management practices. The real private/public management divide, however, resides less in the nature of their leadership approaches than in how executives strive to meet their objectives in very different contexts. My role as an executive coach is to assist my clients identify and understand the leadership challenges specific to their role and corporate culture, and to develop the proactive techniques they require to succeed.



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Corporate Consciousness – A Key to Success

As I have previously written, organizations need to develop new ways of adapting to prosper in our complex, volatile and hyper-connected world. (See my August 27, 2017 article Surviving or Thriving? Prospering Through Purpose.) They need to foster greater corporate consciousness based on a deep understanding of their core personal and professional values. This is the essential first step towards defining their purpose, which in turn will guide the refinement of their corporate culture. This process will greatly improve their prospects of thriving over the long term.

Leaders of such organizations are purposeful. They assess risks beyond the narrow imperative of robust quarterly earnings. Profits, of course, are of the utmost importance for the success of their businesses; however, profits alone cannot be their sole goal. It is crucial how money is made. The novelist, D. G. Roberts said it well: “If we can’t respect the way we earn it, money has no value. If we can’t use it to make life better for our families and loved ones, money has no purpose.” (Shantaram, 2004) Purposeful leaders realize that business is about creating meaningful, lasting worth for their stakeholders: shareholders, team members, vendors, customers, and society which can – in turn – lead to a vibrant and harmonious circle of consciousness, purpose and prosperity.

Corporate Consciouness Circle.png

Corporate stakeholders complement each other. This leads to the creation of even greater value. Indeed, research indicates that there is a positive correlation between this type of corporate culture and long term profitability. Respected companies such as Google, Costco, Tata, Royal Bank of Canada, Unilever and Ecolab have all shown that this way of doing business leads to multifaceted success over time, including higher profits.

For some of these companies, consciousness manifests itself as social responsibility (Toms and Starbucks). For others, it is excellence (Berkshire Hathaway), and for still others it is innovation and discovery (Apple, Netflix and Virgin). They align their vision, mission, strategies and goals with their overarching values, and they execute corporate plans accordingly.

Embracing corporate consciousness and purposeful leadership is a choice that principled leaders make to achieve something greater than themselves and the companies they lead. Purpose inspires leaders to believe that their vision of the future is worthwhile and attainable. And, it inspires others to reach for their dreams too. It calls for great vision, authenticity, courage and resolve. Conscious and purposeful leaders look beyond short term self-interest and they let go of old management paradigms. Supported by like-minded management teams, they inspire their stakeholders by example to build a more coherent and prosperous enterprise. These leaders are ethical corporate stewards focused on building a meaningful, sustainable future both within and beyond their organizations. By fashioning a vibrant circle of sustainable value creation among all of their stakeholders, purposeful CEOs create the extraordinary. (See my September 6, 2016, article CEOs and Stakeholders’ Value Creation.)

At the Bonar Institute, we are committed to help our clients foster corporate consciousness and define their purpose. We work with them to optimize their performance by championing a reality greater than themselves and the companies they lead.



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Leadership and the Law

As an executive coach, mentor and management consultant, I work with leaders who are required to manage complex legal and regulatory issues on a daily basis. In my experience, clients who have acquired a solid understanding of their legal responsibilities as managers - or owners – are more effective in leading their organizations. On the other hand, I have seen too often costs to organizations resulting from their leaders not knowing the legal issues they are facing, the pertinent legal questions to ask and not consulting their internal legal team, or outside counsel, in a timely fashion. For instance, there are many legal risks that should be factored into management’s decision-making when entering into contractual negotiations with vendors, joint venture partners and acquisition targets. There is an ever expanding array of liability issues associated with human resources management, environmental regulations and intellectual property issues.

In a recent article on the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law Global Professional Master of Laws program (GPLLM), I found a very timely perspective on this important subject. (Globe and Mail, May 3, 2018) This program is a 12-month executive-style Masters of Laws which marries U of T’s deserved reputation for academic rigour with pragmatic real-world expertise. What intrigued me was that the GPLLM program is aimed at executives and managers in the private, public or non-profit sectors, as well as practicing lawyers. Of the 85 students in the class of 2018, 63% are new to law; and 48% are women while 52% are men. The students of the class of 2018 have on average 12 years of work experience.

So, what attracts busy leaders to invest their scarce time and money in this program? The pace of change we are experiencing is unparalleled in human history. Today’s leaders recognize the need to draw on a broad range of knowledge to keep atop of current and future challenges. Our volatile and complex economy creates risks that senior executives and leaders must effectively manage and resolve. (See my August 27, 2017, article Surviving or Thriving? Prospering Through Purpose.) According to Ed Iacobucci, Dean of the Faculty of Law, the GPLLM aims to “reshape the way leaders think. The law has an impact on a large portion of issues in the business world, yet executive education doesn’t offer that lens. The capacity to look at complexity, recognize the nuance and apply legal reasoning to come up with the best answer to a difficult problem is invaluable.” (“University of Toronto program helps executives master the law”, Globe and Mail, May 3, 2018)

Founded in 2011, the GPLLM has four concentrations: Business Law; Canadian Law in a Global Context; Innovation, Law and Technology; and the Law of Leadership. The curriculum is carefully designed to balance leaders’ challenging professional commitments with intensive study and professional development in individual and group setting. Students are exposed to the legal issues and problems that are most timely and relevant. They acquire the transformative skills and knowledge that will inform their responses to the wide-ranging challenges full of nuance of our rapidly changing global economy.

For many students, the program offers new perspectives and opportunities. Howard Shearer for example, CEO of Hitachi Canada and an Engineer by training, has worked 35 years in the tech sector. He feels the legal background he acquired at GPLLM has added a vital element to his tool kit. He says he now has a “deeper understanding of the challenges his legal team faces”. This has “opened the door to more productive discussions in the boardroom particularly regarding risk management.” (“University of Toronto program helps executives master the law”, Globe and Mail, May 3, 2018)

In my experience, the most successful leaders understand that they must not only develop new ways of doing business to thrive; they are also stewards of the communities they serve. This is exemplified by another GPLLM graduate. Kevin Vuong was named by Corporate Knights magazine one of Canada’s “Top 30 Under 30" for his work in helping to foster more resilient and livable communities. He is a community leader, city-builder, university lecturer and military officer using social innovation to build healthier, complete communities. (See his LinkedIn profile.) He is currently running for public office in the 2018 Toronto Municipal Election.

Increasingly, leaders recognize that legal literacy is a major benefit to their career development and to their organizations. To the best of my knowledge, the type of training offered at the GPLLM is unique in Canada. I would expect other institutions will want to offer comparable programs in future.

For more on the GPLLM, see http://connect.law.utoronto.ca/gpllm-law-of-leadership/



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The Power of an Impactful Value Story

You can if you believe you can, and then others will believe you can.

— Adapted from Virgil

An old friend asked me recently how many of my coaching clients can tell their value story convincingly? I asked him what precisely he meant by value story. He responded that in his experience as a corporate executive, impactful value stories have a powerful influence on people’s decisions and behaviours: “Facts tell, but stories sell!” Presenting the competitive benefits of a product or service is necessary, but not sufficient.

Many of my clients do indeed tell their organizations’ value stories persuasively. Others, however, are less adept. Effective value stories are essential in following situations:

  • CEO’s who must 'sell' their vision to their boards, investors and other stakeholders;
  • senior managers who need the collaboration of colleagues from other departments to finish a pressing initiative, and
  • marketing and sales teams that must induce new customers to buy their products and services, while retaining existing ones.

My clients say that their customers expect them to quickly grasp the issues and values that are both important, and in alignment, with their own. These customers want to be convinced that my clients will be able to help them achieve their goals successfully. Customers want to believe in them, in their track record and in their values, which mirror their own. Customers want to be certain that they will be worth the investment of their time, attention and money.

Good is the enemy of memorable! My most successful clients understand that it is not enough to be good at what they do, they must be unforgettable! When they tell an authentic, impactful and unique story of who they are and what they stand for, they connect with customers at an emotional level. When they are positive, affable and vibrant, they attract customers. Prospective customers are more apt to like them, to believe in them, and to trust them. They are disposed to do business with them – if not now, then later.

A well-told value story is an indispensable tool in effectively marketing products and services. For example, Tesla loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Yet it still entices investors and fosters customer loyalty with the promise of reinventing and dominating the automotive market with the world’s safest and most ecologically friendly battery-powered vehicles. Tesla’s real value is its story. However, crafting an impactful value story is a daunting task for many. It takes courage. It starts with having a firm understanding of what our own values are, as well as, what customers want and what they value enough to pay for.

This is all the more complex in our uncertain, volatile and hyper-connected 24/7 world, where we are all struggling to keep pace with seemingly unlimited options and on-demand everything. Amid these challenges, most successful organizations recognize that they must develop new ways of coping, adapting and doing business to thrive. They don’t ignore old assets and strengths. Rather, they endeavour to create and foster new ones based on a deep understanding of their genuine values, which reflect and guide the organizations that they serve. This helps shape purpose and direction for their organization in achieving its ultimate business goal.

Purpose-driven companies recognize that business is about creating lasting worth for all their stakeholders: shareholders, team members, vendors, customers, society and the environment. They are focused on creating a meaningful, sustainable future both within and beyond their organizations. (See my February 19, 2017, article, Economic Sustainability & the Environment.) Organizations prosper through purpose and sharing their powerful value stories with their customers and other stakeholders. When we align our value story with those of our customers we demonstrate a keen understanding of their issues, values and overarching purpose. They believe we will help them to be successful. (See my August 27, 2017, article Surviving or Thriving? Prospering Through Purpose.)

At the Bonar Institute, we have stated our purpose. We are committed to helping our clients discover theirs. We empower them to optimize their performance by embracing a reality greater than themselves and the companies they lead. This is the genesis of creating a powerful and impactful value story.



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Government: The Forgotten Collaborator

by James de Gaspé Bonar, Ph.D., CEC, ACC and John D. Bonar, Retired Trade Commissioner

Many of our executive coaching clients report feeling overwhelmed due to the daunting challenges of dizzying technological change coupled with instant dissemination of vast amounts of information -- and increasingly, disinformation -- in our hyper-connected world. The current rate, magnitude and complexity of change we are experiencing are unparalleled in human history. The business paradigms that worked well in the past no longer apply, leaving many executives uncertain and adrift.

The increasingly complex challenges of the volatile and uncertain global economy raise their stress levels even further. Protectionism is on the rise in the US, in parts of Europe and elsewhere. The relevance of vitally-important institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund is now challenged by their largest member. This is seriously undermining the safeguards of free and fair systems of global trade and investment. The prospects of major and destabilizing trade wars are imminent and expanding. Add, the alarmingly destructive impact of climate change and many fear we are at a tipping point of no return…

Though weakened, multilateralism is still alive, as the following three examples show:

  • the initiative to create the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP);
  • the ongoing negotiations to modernize NAFTA, and
  • the successful conclusion in 2017 of the Canada – E.U. Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

These key initiatives have demonstrated how national governments can successfully collaborate in lowering or even eliminating barriers to international commerce, thus benefitting all participant nations. And, the Paris Agreement of April 2016 marked a turning point in the battle against climate change. For the first time in history, world leaders united to legally ratify action against increases of greenhouse gas emissions through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, full implementation remains a challenge. The sole exception to this breakthrough agreement is the United States, which intends to withdraw from the Accord.

Excellent business opportunities still exist in foreign markets; though many executives are not fully aware of the wide variety of helpful programs governments directly offer to businesses. These include, in particular, export advisory expertise, as well as contracting, insurance and financing services. In many ways, government is truly the forgotten, yet invaluable collaborator in the success of business in global markets.

In Canada, for instance, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) assists companies to exploit new export opportunities, invest in foreign markets and find foreign R&D partners. TCS, which was created in 1894, has trade commissioners located in offices across Canada and in over 100 locations around the world. For American exporters the U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. U.S. Commercial Service has trade officers in over 100 U.S. cities and more than 75 countries where they assist companies to begin exporting and/or exploiting sales opportunities in new global markets.

Export Development Canada (EDC) is considered by many as the premier export credit agency in the world. Its products and services include a wide range of trade credit insurance programs, in addition to export financing for Canadian exporters and their foreign customers. In the United States, the Export – Import Bank (EXIM) provides American businesses with an array of trade financing solutions – including export credit insurance, working capital guarantees, and guarantees of commercial loans to foreign buyers – to promote the exports of U.S. goods and services.

The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) offers collaborative project development and foreign contracting expertise to assist exporters in securing contracts with foreign government buyers. As prime contractor, CCC signs and manages contracts with foreign governments on behalf of Canadian suppliers. The CCC has two core program portfolios: Defense and Security and Infrastructure Projects. The Defense and Security Programs with the U.S. on behalf of Canadian exporters have evolved as the primary role for the corporation.

These government entities promote the sale of billions of dollars of goods and services for businesses every year. The current global business environment is exceptionally challenging and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future. Those businesses that work collaboratively with their governments, however, are far more likely to obtain long term success than those that do not.



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Between Jobs? Now What?

I was speaking recently with a former colleague who is between jobs. He is an experienced and highly respected senior executive who is struggling to know what to do next. He shared that he wasn’t particularly happy in his previous job, and that he wants his next opportunity to have purpose and meaning. He emphasized that it would have to be in keeping with his values.

This conversation brought to mind the agonizing between-job experience of one of my coaching clients who I will call Sandy. He explained that following the loss of his well-paid and prestigious corporate job, he had benefitted from some excellent career transition coaching provided by his employer. It prepared him well to find another good job. A year later, however, he found himself again between jobs. Thus, began a deeply frustrating, three-year-plus odyssey to find yet another, comparable position.

However, the longer he was out of work, the less particular Sandy became. He did all the 'right' things: extensive networking, volunteer work, strict budgeting to make his severance last as long as possible, branching out to do management consulting... He sought career transition coaching (once again) now at his own expense. It seemed that everything that had served him well in the past no longer did now. He felt as though he was hitting his head repeatedly against a brick wall; leaving him feeling bloodied and isolated, but no further ahead. With his finances rapidly depleting, his mounting frustration turned to depression.

Sandy felt that at that point, he was nearing the breaking point emotionally and financially. He was willing to do anything to reduce his pain. He decided this dark night had to end NOW! This was not some desperate cry for help or even worse. No; born out of the intensity of his pain, Sandy somehow found the inner strength to decisively start letting go of now-obsolete values and priorities that were blocking his new path forward. He no longer defined success solely by power, prestige and money. He was now seeking something more meaningful.

While profound change is rarely instantaneous, something major had undeniably shifted for Sandy. He began to feel a new, growing sense of purpose deep within himself. Over the next few months, he met some like-minded people and was recruited for two promising opportunities. This is when we started to work together. Sandy wanted to ensure that his new position would be a good fit with his evolving values and priorities. He didn’t want to re-enter the dark night he was just leaving.

My coaching with Sandy focussed on helping him become more aware of his intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual needs - without encroaching on the domain of psychotherapy, of course. We worked on identifying and letting go of previously ineffective approaches. He discovered the values that are now important to him personally and professionally. He acquired the insights, skills, knowledge and decisiveness needed to urgently move forward.

The overarching lessons he learned from our deep coaching sessions were the following:

  • To be successful, positive and happy, we have to have a goal and a purpose that are higher than ourselves and the organizations we work for;
  • In transforming ourselves, we can transform our surroundings, as well.

Between Jobs? Now What? For many executives this is one of the most important questions they will ever have to answer. Their response will have far-reaching consequences on their lives. This profound cross-road is where I come in. I recognize that each one of my clients is unique with specific talents, challenges and needs. Through deep coaching I assist them to discover their genuine personal and professional values, and to embrace their unique talents. (See my June 18th, 2017, post: Deep Coaching: No One Size Fits All.) This powerful and rewarding process enables them to acquire the self-knowledge and awareness to become both the person and the leader they aspire to be.



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The Greening Economy: Private Sector/Government Collaboration

By James de Gaspé Bonar Ph.D., CEC, ACC and Paul Bisson MBA, MHD, Ph.D. candidate

We have been reflecting on the threats and opportunities the environment poses to economic sustainability. Many have noted the economy is increasingly removed from nature and natural processes. Our natural resources are being consumed at an unsustainable rate. The Earth’s ecosystems cannot survive relentless growth in economic production and consumption. The environmental impact of unbridled economic production and global consumption is well-known (see James Bonar’s February 19, 2017 article, Economic Sustainability & the Environment). The related problems of waste and contaminants, however, are complex, often contentious, and in need of urgent solutions.

One prominent example is plastics: Plastics are undoubtedly one of the great inventions of the 20th Century. They provide the world with lightweight, useful and durable products and packaging. It is projected that the production of plastics will exceed 700 million tons annually by 2050. The bad news: Most plastic packaging products are used only once. One third of our plastic ends up in the natural environment, where it remains for centuries (New Plastics Economy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, January 19, 2016). Some 8 million tons of plastic leak from land into the world’s oceans every year (Jambeck et al, Science Magazine, Feb. 2015). This has a dire, cumulative effect on our habitat: Some species of whales, for example, are near extinction due to pollution caused by dumping toxic plastic waste into the oceans.

Successful companies and forward-looking governments understand the threat to the environment of unbridled production, consumption and waste. They also see the opportunity to reinvent a greener and more sustainable economy for generations to come.

Plastics can be produced to be either non-bio-degradable or bio-degradable. Fortunately, bio-degradable plastics are increasingly used in industry to help reduce the harmful effects of non-bio-degradable plastics. Paul Bisson has been actively involved in a most promising venture between various levels of government in Canada and a UK-based bio-degradation technology company -- Polymateria -- based in London. Its mission is to help combat the global crisis of plastic pollution through scientific innovation and excellence. While there are a number of competitors in the ‘green plastic’ space, most are wedded to a specific technology – e.g., bio-plastics, oxo-bio-degradable plastics. Different applications require different technologies, however. The competitive advantage of Polymateria's is that it offers clients a ‘total solution’; it both assists its clients to determine the best technology and then develop formulae for their particular situations.

In order to expand its North American operations, Polymateria considered setting up a production plant in the United States. It explored various sites, but found little state and federal support for bio-degradable technology. It then mandated Paul Bisson to examine Canadian government incentive programs and help identify appropriate sites.

As a seasoned corporate executive and management consultant, Paul has extensive experience in securing private sector/government partnerships. Ultimately, Polymateria chose the National Capital Region (NCR), comprising the cities of Gatineau, Québec and Ottawa, Ontario. The NCR offers the necessary government support, skilled work force, and scalable infrastructure to serve the entire continental market. Moreover, production costs in Canada are very competitive. The mayors of both cities as well as the Minister of the Federal Department of the Environment and Climate Change have enthusiastically welcomed the arrival of the British green tech firm. The first phase of Polymateria’s operations in Canada will be up and running in the latter part of 2018. The total production for the first year is already pre-sold. The plant has the capabilities to expand to 10 phases within the next three to five years, creating some 800 highly skilled direct and indirect jobs. Growth prospects are strong, with the global bio-plastics market expected to reach US $43.8 B by 2020 (Ankush Nikam, “Bio-plastics Market Expected to Grow at CAGR of 28.8% During 2014 – 2020”, LANEWS.org, December 28, 2017).

This example of private sector/government collaboration illustrates the opportunity for communities to develop an innovative and technologically compelling economy that is green, profitable and sustainable. Paul Bisson and James de Gaspé Bonar are committed to assisting green companies to tackle the financing and leadership challenges required to achieve long-term success.



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