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Thoughts from the Allard Chair, Part 1

Thoughts from the Allard Chair, Part 1

Posted on: March 21, 2014
Author: Staff

Dave Mowat, ATB Financial President & CEO, is the recipient of the MacEwan University School of Business Charles Allard Chair for 2014. Which means he gets to go back to school to learn from future business leaders and teach them some of the things he has picked up along the way.

In early March, Dave spent a chunk of one morning talking to BCom students, as well as those studying for diplomas and certificates in human resources management, insurance and public relations.

Here's some of what he left behind.

  • On the easiest thing there is: "The easiest thing is to see what's wrong. It's harder to see what's right. And it's harder still, actually, the hardest thing, to make it right. There's not a lot of things in the world that are just pure dumb things. They may appear that way, at first. But once you start thinking about why something is the way it is, there are a lot of reasons, not all good, but a lot of reasons. So, that's why your best ideas have to be solutions."
  • On thinking versus doing: "Figure it out. Consult the best thinking and learning. Then duct-tape it together and then scale it from there."
  • On a sustainable business: "Knowing why you do what you do is not the same as knowing how you do what you do. And knowing the why is what makes your mission sustainable."
  • On technology and value propositions: "The whole issue of knowing who is your customer is already the issue. Technology and access are going to change things fundamentally. I'm not convinced we are creating a new value proposition as much as altering the way it is delivered. Trust. Trust can be tough. Businesses will run on loyalty, but creating that in the new world will be the challenge."
  • On what drives Dave crazy: "We tick boxes. Have to do that…did that! Tick that off. That drives me crazy. The task isn't to complete a list of things to do, but to make sure things are understood."
  • On time management: "You do have to compartmentalize things to some extent, but, let's be honest: there are all kinds of people reading time management books to get time management skills for jobs they don't really like."
  • On advice Dave wishes he had gotten earlier in life: "We see things, situation, conditions, problems and victories as very permanent. But they're not. They're just temporary permanent fixtures in your life. I wish I had re-examined that issue of 'permanence' earlier."
  • On entering the job market: "An employer is looking at what you did with your skills and your formal learning. You will never go wrong with leadership. Find ways, set personal goals for yourself that takes what you have learned and apply it in even a small way that shows your interest and potential in leadership."

Read Thoughts from the Allard Chair, Part 2