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Dave Mowat joins Sir Richard Branson on panel at Energy Disruptors

Sir Richard Branson captivated the crowd during day one of Energy Disruptors in Calgary Tuesday. The two-day event, put on in collaboration with ATB, is billed as a gathering for industry thought leaders from every aspect of the energy sector.

Branson’s talk, titled “Capitalizing on Disruption” covered a number of topics including adventure, climate change, entrepreneurship, leadership, listening and giving back.

The founder of the Virgin group of companies and philanthropist warmed up the crowd revealing he’s had 68 near-death experiences or as he calls them—close calls. He followed up with a series of tales about business ideas and the chances he took to make them happen.

Branson’s remarks on leadership aligned with ATB’s commitment to listening.

“A good leader is someone who’s out there with a notebook in their pocket listening to employees and customers. Not just listening and nodding,” he said. “If they don’t write it down, it’s not going to get done.”

Following Branson’s presentation, ATB’s President & CEO Dave Mowat joined him on stage to participate in a panel discussion. Other panelists included Co-founder & Chief Revolutionary of Quiet Revolution LLC Susan Cain and Executive Director of ARC Energy Research Institute Peter Tertzakian.

Energy Disruptors panel

The panel discussed how companies can navigate through disruption and the importance of having a strong and diverse culture.

“One of the best risk management tools for a business is diversity,” said Mowat. “The worst board of directors a bank could have would be made up of 12 bankers.”

As for disruption specific to the energy industry, Branson encouraged those in the sector to get ahead of the changes that are coming.

“Rather than waiting to be disrupted, join in the clean energy revolution,” he said.

Branson explained how Virgin Records was forced to adapt when people stopped buying records. That change in consumer sentiment is what pushed him to invest in mobile technology—an industry in which he became a trailblazer.

For ATB team member Siobhan Owen, hearing Branson speak was monumental. Her parents are from the UK and Branson was a prominent public figure for them. He was an inspiration to her as she grew up.

“I was always fascinated by the business world and the notion of entrepreneurship,” said the Assistant Marketing Manager.

“I’ve read all his books and really find his ideas and his way of thinking to be so unique.”

Owen even asked Mowat to take her first-edition copy of Branson’s autobiography “Losing my Virginity” in hopes of getting Branson’s autograph. Mowat was happy to oblige and so was Branson.

Siobhan Owen shows off autographed book

Energy Disruptors continues Wednesday. Watch for ATB - Blockchain, a panel discussion on local entrepreneurs harnessing the power of blockchain technology.

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