Just before COVID-19 came and changed everything in our lives, I was involved in a business forum in Melbourne that brought together 150 business leaders from Canada and Australia (called AusCan).

I was moderating a panel made up of some of Australia and Canada’s most successful business leaders and I asked them what role certainty plays in business. I also asked what the impact of government policy, taxes, market trends, natural disasters and global epidemics has on business.

At that time (mid-February) COVID-19 was just some bizarre illness happening in other countries, like China, and was only just beginning to show its face in Australia and Canada. Who knew what was just around the corner?!

Jack Cowin (Hungry Jacks Founder) – the most experienced entrepreneur on the panel – reminded the audience that “the first rule in business is to stay in business”. Who knew just how timely that piece of advice would be to all of us?

AusCan – an Australian and Canadian Economic Leadership Forum – has been held every 18 months for the past 10 years… this year it was Melbourne’s turn to host (from 12-14 February).

It brings together Australian and Canadian business and Government leaders to swap ideas on current issues to drive greater collaboration between the two countries.

I was fortunate to be invited to moderate the Entrepreneurship Panel, which included iconic business leaders like Jack Cowin, the founder of Competitive Foods Australia, who are behind brands like Hungry Jacks.

There were some other icons too – like Jo Horgan, CEO of Mecca Brands (an Australian-owned beauty giant), John Ruffalo – who co-founded The Council Of Canadian Innovators and is the founder of OMERS Venture, and Vicki Saunders whose company SheEO is changing the way the world supports female innovators.

I want to say a special thanks to the organising committee of AusCan for inviting me to take part in the event. Like everyone else who’s been a part of this great forum, I hope the next one in Toronto goes ahead and is a big success.


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