The first COPA educational conference took place last week as over 80 members gathered on November 7th and 8th at the Westin Toronto Airport Hotel for two value-packed days of presentations and networking.

The theme of the conference was “Making Waves”, and the sentiment from those that attended was that the conference delivered on providing helpful and thought-provoking insights into key areas that companies need to focus on to be successful over the coming years.

Here are some presentation highlights:


How Will the Fourth Industrial Revolution Impact Canadian Businesses
The conference opened up with an impactful keynote address from Janice Gross Stein, Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management in the Dept. of Political Science at the University of Toronto and a member of the Order of Canada, who insightfully explained the economic power shift and growth of new technologies and big data taking place in the world as we progress through the early stages of the 4th Industrial Revolution.  Professor Stein highlighted the key policy decisions that the Canadian government and our businesses need to address for success in the future.

Building Balance as a Corporate Leader
Former Toronto Raptors Head Coach and Founder of Analytics 4 Coaches, Butch Carter, reflected on his years as a basketball player & coach at the high school, U.S. college and NBA levels as well as his business career in Canada with Carter Group Inc., a world class company out of Oakville, ON that designed, patented, manufactured electronic controllers for automobiles and supplied companies like General Motors.  Mr. Carter spoke of the need to find a balance between work and family and the importance of mentoring and investing in your employees – give them confidence and the opportunity to grow and benefit with the success of the company.  He also discussed the need to be prepared and ‘over-trained’ by well defining business processes and anticipating for good and bad times – do you have back-up plans for when something goes wrong?  Get ahead of the problem.  Butch believes players and workers also need to be held accountable and finally talked about the importance of giving back and his reasons for staying to live and work in Canada.

Monetizing Change: Digital Business Threats & Opportunities in the Office Product Channel
Michael O’Neil, a leading Channel Consultant with the NPD Group, which operate in 20 countries and 60 cities around the world, discussed the key drivers of change and the digital transformation taking place in the office product market.  He also provided some sales stats and growth rates by product categories within the channel and identified where the highest opportunities of growth are likely in the future.

Break-Out Sessions:

Leading a Culture that Innovates!
Lee-Anne McAlear from the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) provided an excellent and interactive presentation on how companies can overcome the resistance to change and instead create an environment of creativity and innovation.

The Office of the Future: New Trends Affecting How We Collaborate at Work
Mike Murphy of Sharp Electronics Canada provided an intriguing presentation in the ways the traditional office space is changing to accommodate newer generations and encourage greater collaboration.

Strategy to Execution: Bridging the Gap
David Barrett, from SEEC and the Schulich School of Business, York University gave a helpful look into why strategic plans often fail and how to effectively execute a strategic plan through 7 key steps.  

Meet 2020 Budgets with a Lean Supply Chain
Mark Thomas from Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) made a strong case for cleaning up the supply chain to increase revenues. A major take-away for participants is that “leaning” can be done in a variety of areas.

Integrating Technologies into Your Business
Marcelo Tamaki, Principal Consultant with Red X Carbon Inc., talked about the dangers of shadow I.T. and highlighted some helpful apps, software, and technology approaches which companies can incorporate into their businesses to make them run more efficiently.

Network Security: 2020 and Solutions
Brad Wilkins of Westcon-Comstor spoke about the way evolution of cyber security threats and the tools and methods available to companies to combat these threats.

Digital Disruption in the Retail and Supply Chain Sectors
Ron Babin from the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) gave a very interesting presentation on the new technologies that are currently, and will be, having a huge impact on our world and businesses.  Questioning whether your company and workforce are prepared for the disruption and able to use these technologies to your advantage. 

Succession Planning: Passing the Baton and Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders
Donna Hammill-Chalk of DHC Executive Coaching spoke about the importance of having a succession plan in place, not just to replace older workers but to ensure your company has the right talent in place and is nurturing future leaders.

Data, Analytics and Insights
Murat Kristal from SEEC and the Schulich School of Business, York University, passed on his expertise in an interactive talk on the importance of data and more importantly how you need to analyze and manage the data effectively to maximize the benefit. He provided some examples of software and approaches that can be utilized to help companies in the process.

Design Thinking to Foster and Accelerate Innovation
Megan Mitchell of Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) brought home the importance of the end-user in the design process; emphasizing that innovation alone is not enough to create successful products.

The Conference then closed with an entertaining and insightful Industry Panel Discussion amongst Stan Dabic, Vice President & General Manager, Grand & Toy; Michelle Micuda, President, Staples Business Advantage; Denis Mathieu, President & CEO (Hamster) Novexco; and Jim Kapogianis, Vice President, Retail Sales, SYNNEX Canada.

COPA Board Member Jennifer Solomon from 3M Canada acted as moderator as she asked the panel a number of questions addressing topics such as who will win the Stanley Cup, what it will take to sustain the Canadian office products industry, biggest challenges facing the industry, selling direct & online shopping, consolidation, and products with the largest growth opportunities.      

Finally, COPA would like to thank the following Partners & Sponsors for their support of the event:

  • Convictional
  • Dahle
  • Kore Design LLC
  • Purolator
  • Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC)
  • Staples Business Advantage
  • SYNNEX Canada

As mentioned, feedback was very positive on the conference and the feeling expressed was that it was an excellent start for the first year with the opportunity to grow and make the event even better in the future! The excitement is already in the air for Making Waves 2020. Don’t miss it!!!

Visit the Making Waves photo gallery to see all our photos.