"Canada needs more external capital": Jennifer Jackson, Capital One Canada

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Jennifer R. Jackson, President of Capital One Canada, leads their Canadian business with a transformational leadership style and a passion for building diverse and inclusive teams

1.     When you reflect upon your career path, is there a defining moment that influenced where you are today? 

… all the major turning points that influenced where I am today occurred when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

While a single defining moment doesn’t stand out, all the major turning points that influenced where I am today occurred when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Although an engineer by training, I transitioned to management consulting early in my career. During that time, I worked in different industries and across various international markets. I pivoted sharply again when I joined Capital One’s credit card business with no experience in lending products or financial services. I was impressed with the company’s data driven approach to business, and believed that my quantitative skills and strategy background would serve me well as entered an entirely new field. Fortunately, pushing myself and my openness to learn from everyone around me helped me thrive in that new environment. 

 

Learning and gaining fresh perspectives continues to be crucial to my success. My current role leading our Canadian business allows me to see financial services in a different country and cultural context. This has pushed me in yet another new direction which I’m sure will influence where I’ll be tomorrow. 

 Canada has an incredible wealth of talented students and scientists at its universities

2.     Canada’s tech ecosystem is vibrant and rapidly expanding. Looking back, which factors in your view have driven this expansion? What do you think can be done to accelerate this further? 

Canada has been an innovator and leader in the AI space for many years. MaRS Discovery District is an example of Canada-backed focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. Leaders across Canada have embraced the important role of technology in the economic growth of the country. They have played an active role in the growth and expansion of talent within the tech ecosystem. Canada has an incredible wealth of talented students and scientists at its universities and most are sought after by leading technology companies across the globe. 

#DreamGlobal… leaders and companies can’t achieve great things if they box themselves in instead of expanding their horizons.

3.     Canadian Dream Summit aspires to a Canada where everyone is able to pursue and achieve their greatest ambitions. Three principles guide us: #VisionToReality, #CollaborateLocal, #DreamGlobal. Which one of these resonates the most with your work? 

#DreamGlobal is one that resonates the most because I believe that leaders and companies can’t achieve great things if they box themselves in instead of expanding their horizons. I’ve worked in several different countries, and the learning, insight, and cultural differences help bring valuable perspectives and solutions.

 Canada needs more external capital coming in to fund and, more importantly, drive the scaling-up of firms.

4.     If you had three wishes for Canada’s tech ecosystem in 2019, what would they be and who would they impact? 

1. Continued aggressive investment in start-ups:Canada needs more external capital coming in to fund and, more importantly, drive the scaling-up of firms. Canada needs to grow more "unicorns" (e.g., >$1B market cap), too. While start-ups are becoming more common in Canada, very few (e.g., Blackberry, Shopify) ever achieved that status before being acquired or leveling off in growth, which is critical to compete with markets like China and the U.S.

2. Prepare the next generation of leaders in technology: With Canada's growth of technology talent, we also need to concentrate on the development of a next generation of senior level technology leaders who can help the tech ecosystem expand even further in the global marketplace.

3. Expand our presence in the global tech marketplace as a leader and source of incredible engineering talent: We need to be a premier destination location for major technology innovators that will also spawn additional investments in education, research and major international technology conferences held in Canada

5.   What do you see as a significant area of untapped opportunity for Canadian tech? 

Canada needs more diverse representation in technology talent. While Canada has a diverse culture, we continue to experience low representation of that diversity in tech. Teams with diverse representation are better in so many ways when building customer products and services. We need to help develop a better representation set of technologists, engineers, scientists and mathematicians, in order for us to stay ahead of the pace of change in today’s world.

Canada needs more diverse representation in technology talent…. in order for us to stay ahead of the pace of change in today’s world.

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Jennifer R. Jackson will be speaking at Canadian Dream Summit on February 19th in Toronto. To reserve a ticket, click here.