Disruption is the name of the game for business, these days. Hotels are being emptied by Airbnb. Taxis and rental cars sit idle because of Uber. Department stores are being crushed by Amazon. Google has gutted the Yellow Pages. It’s being called the new normal.

And it was enough to bring 900 Calgary business people together, on a weekday evening in March, to discuss business trends and tactics in a LOP economy (a low oil price economy). We gathered under the banner of In It Together, which is becoming Calgary’s rallying force for dealing with a slow economy. There were four of us on a panel to lead the discussions.

Jim Gray, the Calgary oilman who helped make us a world player in oil and gas, sees the new technologies as a positive influence. He figures they give us an opportunity to do things better. We can take advantage of them, he says, by figuring out what our strengths are and then building on those. And when he says that we can do this – that we can pull it off. I believe him.

Mary Moran, of Calgary Economic Development, asserts our city is way more than oil and gas. So we must help others see this fact. She champions our diverse population, our diverse economy and points out the growth of our other, non-energy sectors. They can become the foundation on which we build the future on.

Brookfield Residential’s Trent Edwards had me nodding in agreement when he said, “You cannot make short term decisions because they will impact your ability to achieve your long term goals”. And he stressed that the key to achieving your long term goals, is your people.

I, too, spoke of how much our people matter. I said at BOWEN, we’re standing behind them because that’s what friends and neighbours do for each other. And if that means expanding geographically, then so be it. We’re expanding. Because our staff is more than just a talented group of people. They’re BOWEN’s strategic resource for the future. And we need each other. More than we ever have before.

That, too, is the new normal.


–  Shannon Bowen-Smed, President and CEO, BOWEN