What an exciting time to take on a new job! 

Especially at a company like Export Development Canada, and after the kind of year that EDC has had.

When 2018 began, I was working at EDC but in a different role, as Senior Vice-President of Business Development. On paper, my job was to oversee the direction of EDC’s sales force in Canada and around the world. In fact, I saw my role as being about something else: nurturing and strengthening our relationship with the thousands of Canadian companies who we are lucky to call customers—exporters looking for opportunities to grow and succeed around the world.

It was a job I loved, in an organization I was proud to work for. It really couldn’t get any better.

Until it did. 

On February 5, 2019, I was appointed EDC’s new President and CEO. As personally humbling and exciting as that news was, it was only made more so by the tremendous progress this organization had achieved thanks to the vision and leadership of my predecessor, Benoit Daignault. Four years previously, Benoit had launched a transformation aimed at reshaping EDC into a company capable of having more impact.

His goals were clear: to make EDC matter to more Canadian companies, to have more relevance in the marketplace, and to deliver greater value to Canada. I believe 2018 was the year EDC proved its readiness to take on that new and more impactful role.

The single biggest proof of this was in our newfound ability to reach more Canadian companies.

A little over two years ago, we had set a target to almost quadruple the total number of companies we serve by the end of 2020. Now, halfway to that deadline, we have nearly doubled that number thanks to the strong team effort put in by EDC’s 1,500-plus dedicated employees.

A little over two years ago, we had set a target to almost quadruple the total number of companies we serve by the end of 2020. Now, halfway to that deadline, we have nearly doubled that number thanks to the strong team effort put in by EDC’s 1,500-plus dedicated employees.

But that’s just the high-level view of our success.

Dig down and you’ll find an awesome story. We’re not just acquiring more customers; we’re delivering more value to more Canadian exporters, and in new and exciting ways.

Like the way we’re now packaging 75 years’ worth of trade knowledge and expertise and making it accessible to more companies—particularly small and micro-sized businesses—in the form of webinars, in-person events and international matchmaking. Via these and other methods, and through our ongoing collaboration with key trade partners like the Trade Commissioner Service and BDC, we’re building solutions to better serve the needs of companies looking for information and connections to help them get started on the right track. And we’re just getting started!

We’ve also made amazing strides in our digital capabilities. Companies now have more access than ever to our knowledge, trade advice and insurance products, 24 hours a day, through our digital platform. The goal, always, is a customer experience that is simple, relevant and caring. Without a doubt, we have more work to do to make the experience more seamless, but we’re improving every day.

I’m also excited to report that we have more partners joining in the effort to support exporters. In 2018, EDC piloted a solution that was jointly developed with a Canadian commercial bank. Partnering with Banque Nationale, we built a financial tool that the bank could use to unlock more capital for its exportminded clients, with EDC providing an assist in the form of a loan guarantee.

More tailored partnerships like this one, I am pleased to report, are in the wings. Last year we also expanded our human reach. In April, we opened a new office in Sherbrooke, Quebec. A diversified industrial area, the region is home to more than 500 exporters and is less than an hour’s drive from the U.S. border—the definition of a location with high potential for growth. Then, in October, we followed this with the opening of an exciting office in the Kitchener–Waterloo region’s new Catalyst137, a large space occupied by private and public collaborators that is designed for innovation and for helping startups get their product to market quickly. If you haven’t yet visited, do not delay. This is where many of Canada’s next generation of superstars will be born, and EDC’s storefront office is in the heart of it.

While we expanded our reach to help more Canadian companies, we also stepped up to provide stronger support for the companies we’re already serving. Amid the uncertainty of NAFTA renegotiations, EDC provided a rapid-response approach to customer questions and concerns. We filled gaps in understanding with facts and expertise.

And, speaking of the U.S., last year we took our first-ever steps to establishing a permanent U.S. presence, with representations in Chicago and Atlanta, both of which will be in full operation in 2019.

And 2018 wasn’t just about supporting more companies—we delivered value for Canada in other ways as well. We stepped up when our shareholder, the Government of Canada, turned to us for assistance in aid of numerous national interests, including the export-enabling Arctic Gateway, a critical project to connect communities in Canada’s North.

We facilitated nearly $400 million in business for women-owned and women-led businesses, far exceeding the $250 million we had committed to facilitate as part of a Budget 2018 item to support the Government’s broader Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

We also launched our new framework and strategy for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and we signed on to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

Last year was all about making an impact, and in this regard I can’t overlook the tremendous efforts our employees made (once again!) to contribute to our EDC communities in Ottawa, across Canada and around the world, through partnerships with the United Way and CARE Canada, and of course, our amazing June tradition of Community Investment Day. These efforts don’t make headlines, or show up on spreadsheets, but they help make EDC a special place to work (and contribute to our being named, once again, as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers!).

There are two other important launches that took place last year. EDC’s new subsidiary, FinDev Canada, was officially capitalized in February and, the following month, closed its first deal: a proud moment that helped bring to life the new Canadian Development Finance Institution. The second launch was EDC’s new brand, complete with the proud statement “We take on risk, so you canvtake on the world!”

It’s a bold promise, but I have absolutely no doubt that it’s a promise we will keep. Everyone at EDC has cause to be proud of their achievements. But there’s not a person in our organization who doesn’t realize that there’s much more work to be done. As EDC’s new President and CEO, and the first woman to occupy this role in our organization’s history, I am in equal measure humbled and thrilled by this challenge. There is an exciting road ahead.

In 2019, EDC celebrates its 75th year as Canada’s export credit agency. I can think of no better way for the employees of Export Development Canada to mark that anniversary than by continuing to do the job that our brand promises, and that this organization has done so well and for so long…

…helping Canada take on the world.

We facilitated nearly $400 million in business for women-owned and women-led businesses, far exceeding the $250 million we had committed to facilitate as part of a Budget 2018 item to support the Government’s broader Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

We also launched our new framework and strategy for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and we signed on to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

Last year was all about making an impact, and in this regard I can’t overlook the tremendous efforts our employees made (once again!) to contribute to our EDC communities in Ottawa, across Canada and around the world, through partnerships with the United Way and CARE Canada, and of course, our amazing June tradition of Community Investment Day. These efforts don’t make headlines, or show up on spreadsheets, but they help make EDC a special place to work (and contribute to our being named, once again, as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers!).

There are two other important launches that took place last year. EDC’s new subsidiary, FinDev Canada, was officially capitalized in February and, the following month, closed its first deal: a proud moment that helped bring to life the new Canadian Development Finance Institution. The second launch was EDC’s new brand, complete with the proud statement “We take on risk, so you canvtake on the world!”

It’s a bold promise, but I have absolutely no doubt that it’s a promise we will keep. Everyone at EDC has cause to be proud of their achievements. But there’s not a person in our organization who doesn’t realize that there’s much more work to be done. As EDC’s new President and CEO, and the first woman to occupy this role in our organization’s history, I am in equal measure humbled and thrilled by this challenge. There is an exciting road ahead.

In 2019, EDC celebrates its 75th year as Canada’s export credit agency. I can think of no better way for the employees of Export Development Canada to mark that anniversary than by continuing to do the job that our brand promises, and that this organization has done so well and for so long…

…helping Canada take on the world.