The University of Calgary took its popular Idea Exchange series to a broader audience at the end of February. Designed to create and strengthen connections and partnerships between UCalgary and the wider community, the events affirmed the important, influential role of our robust network of engaged alumni.
Nuanced analysis in Washington, D.C.
Hosted by President Elizabeth Cannon and the Office of Development and Alumni Engagement, the first stop was the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. UCalgary alumni, friends and donors in the region attended a lively discussion on the relevant and timely topic of the consequences of potential tax reform in the United States. As one of its most important trade partners, Canada has historically been very sensitive and responsive to any changes in the American economic climate.
Guests listened to a nuanced analysis from influential economist Jack Mintz, the President’s Fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. Mintz has written extensive commentary for the Financial Post on the likelihood of President Trump potentially reducing corporate tax burdens, and what that would mean for Canadian government and business practices. He posed the central question, “What does Canada stand to gain or lose if U.S. tax reform leads to a more competitive system south of our border?”
According to Mintz, “If it leads to more growth — given that a significant portion of our economy is dependent on exports to the U.S. — then that can be a benefit to Canadians.” Alternatively, “if the U.S. looks like a better place to operate, then Canada stands to lose business tax advantages that we’ve built up over the past 15 years — that could have a significant impact on the way businesses think about where they’ll put their investments in the future.”
The main presentation was accompanied by a spirited question-and-answer session between Mintz, alumni and community members. The casual format of the event laid the foundation for an exchange of diverse perspectives on tax reform and trade.
Manhattan conversation: psychology of leadership
The following evening, UCalgary alumni and supporters in Manhattan took part in an equally engaging dialogue. They were joined by a group of eight Haskayne School of Business students on tour in New York to connect with alumni in the financial sector. This time, the conversation was co-led by Justin Weinhardt, assistant professor, Haskayne School of Business, and Kent Clark, BComm’86, managing director, co-chief investment officer of alternative investments and manager selection, Goldman Sachs. The two discussed the psychology of leadership in corporate culture and offered alternatives to traditional stereotypes.
How, Weinhardt asked, do certain people get into leadership positions? Is it by being humble or nice? Or by being politically skilful and manipulative? His provocative discussion with Clark explored issues of stress, over-confidence, resilience, mental health and sustainable business practices. Attendees then participated in a thought-provoking question-and-answer period about the traits that make for excellence in leadership.
The Idea Exchange series, which heads to Houston and San Francisco later this month, has sparked important relationships as well as fortified the mutual support of our alumni long past convocation — and far beyond our campus and our city. These most recent trips enabled Cannon to re-connect with local University of Calgary alumni in one-on-one meetings and update them on new research and initiatives at the university.
This Idea Exchange itinerary also included meetings with senior diplomats Ms. Gitane De Silva, Alberta's senior representative to the United States; Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, permanent representative of Canada to the United Nations; and Phyllis Yaffe, consul general of Canada in New York. Guided by the framework of the university’s International Strategy, this trip has strengthened UCalgary’s ties to the United States and opened up opportunities for future collaborations and exchanges.