RBC Disruptors

By RBC Thought Leadership

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RBC Disruptors is an ongoing speaker series at RBC, moderated by SVP John Stackhouse, designed to bring leading thinkers into the enterprise to talk about major shifts in the world around us. Featuring thought-provoking sessions on digital technology, changing workplaces and big shifts in consumer behaviour, we aim to stimulate new conversations and ideas.

Episode Date
The Audience Strikes Back
Peoples’ viewing habits are shifting dramatically, with the rise of streaming services and mobile viewing – yet, digital isn’t stopping live entertainment from drawing crowds. Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente – the co-heads of the Toronto International Film Festival joined the 50th episode of RBC Disruptors to speak to the power of audience in an age of digital experience.
Oct 09, 2019
Disrupting Democracy
Technology is transforming the vote. Shuman Ghosemajunder, CTO of Shape Security and former click fraud czar at Google joined us on RBC Disruptors to discuss what technology is doing to democracy, and how technology can fix it.
Sep 18, 2019
In Conversation with Two Next Gen Entrepreneurs
The changing nature of work is keeping millennials and gen Z up at night. In a tech-driven economy, the path to success is no longer clear -- so young people are taking control. On this episode of RBC Disruptors, two young entrepreneurs joined us to explain why they founded their companies—and why others should follow in their footsteps. This episode's guests are Julia Kirouac, Founder & CEO of NudFud, and Braden Ream, Founder & CEO of VoiceFlow.
Sep 03, 2019
Farmer 4.0: The Shift to Automation
Automation is changing the nature of food production. In part two of this mini-series, John Stackhouse visits the dairy operation of Matt and Jaclyn Walker in Muir, Ontario, two food producers that define Farmer 4.0; entrepreneurs experimenting with technology and innovating the business model of farming. With their robotic milking machine, they are able to shift their focus to cultivating data, problem-solving and improving animal health. For more on Farmer 4.0, see rbc.com/farmer4
Aug 27, 2019
Farmer 4.0: Agriculture's Skills Revolution
Agriculture is undergoing a skills revolution. In part one of this mini-series, John Stackhouse discusses the findings of a new RBC report, Farmer 4.0, with Andrew Schrumm, its lead researcher, and how agriculture can thrive in the age of automation. Unfavourable demographics and disruptive technologies in the industry magnify the skills challenge ahead for the 2020s, in which Canada has the opportunity to feed an ever expanding global population. For more on Farmer 4.0, see rbc.com/farmer4
Aug 27, 2019
From Burberry to Apple: A Shift in Retail (July 8, 2019)
There is a shift happening in retail. Angela Ahrendts, former SVP of Retail at Apple and CEO at Burberry joined us on RBC Disruptors to discuss the trends she's seen from her time at two iconic global brands and to share her vision for the future of retail.
Jul 08, 2019
Rewiring the Brain (June 24, 2019)
Technology is disrupting the brain. Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, a physician and brain scientist at Duke University highlighted that 8%-10% of people in North America show signs of a serious addiction to the Internet and gaming - on this special episode we turned our minds inward - Murali shares his perspective and research on how technology is changing the brain and mind.
Jun 24, 2019
AI for Good? (June 6, 2019)
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are moving at a staggering pace but big hurdles remain to dreams like self-driving cars and personalized medicine. What are the risks, opportunities, and timelines? John Stackhouse is joined by the Head of Borealis AI and Chief Scientist Officer at RBC, Foteini Agrafioti, and key experts including Layla el Asri (Microsoft Research), Jean-Francois Gagne (Element AI) and Natalie Cartwright (Finn AI) to discuss the massive potential – and the societal and ethical implications – of artificial intelligence.
Jun 06, 2019
Disrupting the daily RITUAL Event Highlights (April 24, 2019)
When Ritual CEO Ray Reddy was a product manager at Google, he learned a trick from Larry Page: the toothbrush test. If you can use a product twice a day, it will become habit-changing. A ritual. Reddy took this premise and applied it to the last frontier of digitization: the local market. At its core, Ritual is about connecting the physical and digital worlds by monetizing the local, in-person experience. He joined us at the last RBC Disruptors event to share how he’s working to make lines a thing of the past, allowing customers to place orders ahead of time.
Apr 26, 2019
The Future of Shipping Event Highlights (April 3, 2019)
Global shipping ushered in the modern economy — but in 2019, it still has a 19th-century problem: too much paperwork. With growth in global trade contracting, there is tremendous pressure to find efficiencies. At our latest RBC Disruptors, we took our show on the road to Halifax to talk about the future of shipping with Karen Oldfield, who is tasked with making Halifax the most tech-savvy port on the Eastern seaboard, and Todd Scott, who is at the forefront of simplifying global trade with Blockchain technology.
Apr 08, 2019
"Hey Alexa, What's Next for Voice Tech?" Event Highlights (March 28, 2019)
The most common question people ask their voice tech assistant isn't “How's the weather?" Not anymore. Today, it's “Alexa, will you marry me?" With 80,000 skills and growing, marriage is maybe the one thing Alexa can’t do. This year, the smart speaker industry will grow to be worth an estimated $7 billion, and demand could potentially surpass that of smartphones. Al Lindsay, a Canadian voice tech pioneer and Amazon’s VP of Alexa Engine Software joined us at the last RBC Disruptors to share his insights into a voice-first world.
Apr 02, 2019
Willing To Fail: The Disruptive Force of an Entrepreneurial Mindset Event Highlights (Feb. 27, 2019)
Hauling away other people's junk, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? founder Brian Scudamore has seen it all: a mountain of escargot shells, a naked man and $400,000 in cash hidden under the floorboards. A lifelong entrepreneur, he’s also seen what it takes to succeed in business — and how failing is vital to learning how to get things right. At the last RBCDisruptors, Scudamore spoke about being willing to fail and the leadership lessons he’s learned along the way.
Mar 01, 2019
BlackBerry's Big Pivot Event Highlights (Jan. 16, 2019)
John Chen didn't set out to be The Turnaround Guy. He just played to his strengths. He’s had plenty to fix at BlackBerry, the iconic Canadian tech company he took over as executive chairman and CEO in 2013. BlackBerry’s CEO & Executive Chairman says he’s driven to do what others think isn’t possible. He spoke at the last RBC Disruptors about trade tensions between the U.S. and China, the future of mobile devices and how artificial intelligence is changing cybersecurity.
Jan 21, 2019
The Spin Master [Toy] Story Event Highlights (Dec. 4, 2018)
Spin Master was founded in 1994 by three friends fresh out of university. They had early hits with the Earth Buddy and Devil Sticks; but it’s when they started investing heavily in R&D that their toy company took off. Today it’s one of the top five toy companies in the world, with sales exceeding $1.5 billion last year. Ronnen Harary, their Co-Founder and Co-CEO joined us at the last RBC Disruptors to share more of their story, and innovation lessons learned along the way.
Dec 13, 2018
RBC CEO Dave McKay in conversation with PayPal CEO Dan Schulman
Dan Schulman is President & CEO of Paypal, a worldwide online payments system that supports online money transfers and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods like cheques and money orders. He spoke with RBC CEO Dave McKay at the recent RBC Capital Markets Technology, Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference in New York City to discuss how Paypal transformed to a customer champion company, changing their strategy from product to platform.
Nov 28, 2018
Fireside Chat with iNovia’s Patrick Pichette
When it comes to business transformation, Patrick Pichette has seen it all. The former chief financial officer at both Google and Bell Canada has over 25 years of financial and operating expertise and has led world-class companies like McKinsey and Sprint Canada to break through the complexities of hyper growth, and to execute large, transformative programs. This episode is live from RBC’s National Market Leaders Conference.
Nov 13, 2018
Slack: Changing The World With Chat Event Highlights (Oct. 1, 2018)
It's hard to talk about Stewart Butterfield without getting into his unorthodox path to the heights of tech. The Canadian entrepreneur spent his early childhood without electricity, taught himself to code, and studied philosophy at Cambridge before falling into a tech career that’s now pitting him against Microsoft and Google. Butterfield’s biggest business success, Slack, is a corporate communications tool aimed at reducing some of the 269 billion emails sent around the world each day. He joined us at the latest RBC Disruptors.
Oct 19, 2018
Mental Health In The Digital Age Event Highlights (Sept. 26, 2018)
Millions of people have turned to wearables to track their steps, monitor their heart rate and sleeping patterns, and more. For many of us, the fitness tracker is a constant companion. Should tracking our mental health be any different? This was the theme of the latest RBC Disruptors in advance of Mental Illness Awareness Week. This episode's guests are former Olympian and mental health advocate Silken Laumann, Sam Duboc of BEACON and Dan Seider of Stigma.
Oct 02, 2018
Next Gen Entrepreneurs Event Highlights (Aug. 21, 2018)
With traditional career paths in flux, some millennials are choosing entrepreneurship and staking their future on themselves. At a special RBCDisruptors session for RBC's summer interns, three young entrepreneurs explained why they took the plunge—and why others should follow in their footsteps. This episode's guests are Emma Harris, 25, whose company Healthy Pets focused on telemedicine for pets; Emily Bland, 23, who co-founded SucSeed to build hydroponic grow tanks in remote communities; and Daniel D’Souza, 22, who helped found inclusion-training startup Crescendo.
Sep 02, 2018
Netflix's Jessica Neal on Building a Culture of Innovation
Netflix is maybe the biggest disruptor of them all. Ten years ago, the company made most of its money sending DVDs by mail. Now, it’s bigger than Disney—the most valuable media company on earth. Jessica Neal is head of talent at Netflix, and it’s her job to maintain the company’s culture of innovation. This episode is live from the C2 conference in Montreal.
Aug 11, 2018
How to Think Like a Startup 2.0 Event Highlights (July 18, 2018)
It's the secret that drives Silicon Valley’s best: the growth mindset. It’s about failing fast, learning fast, and growing fast. PagerDuty's Jennifer Tejadahas built a growth mindset into her company. She tells us about filling out the CARD: the candour, ambition, resilience and diversity that are common to every great growth company.
Jul 23, 2018
Shopify's Harley Finkelstein on the Future of Tech Talent
Canada’s tech sector needs more swagger. That’s according to Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein, who says part of his company’s runaway success has been the ability to sell itself—to customers and to potential employees. After hiring 200 people from 50 countries over the past two years, Shopify is looking to add thousands more in its Ottawa HQ and around the world. To meet those needs they’ve partnered with Carleton University on a new degree program, are supporting coding camps for kids in elementary and high schools, and are making Canada a destination for international talent.
Jun 29, 2018
Diversity x Inclusion x Innovation Event Highlights (June 20, 2018)
Dax Dasilva says that when building a successful startup, culture is more important than code. He's the founder and CEO of Montreal-based Lightspeed, which has 50,000 customers around the world using its e-commerce platform and nearly $300 million in funding. Yet it wasn't clever coding that powered that success, he says, but an open mind and an inclusive corporate ethos that draws on his background as the son of immigrants and a member of the LGBTQ community. Lightspeed's success comes from a core understanding that diversity fuels innovation.
Jun 23, 2018
Estonia: The World's First Digital Democracy
If you’re looking for the future of digital government, you’ll find it in the unlikeliest place: the tiny European nation of Estonia. The country offers nearly all of its government services online, and Estonians are behind Internet innovations such Skype and Kazaa. Siim Sikkut is the man charged with making sure Estonia stays on the cutting edge, and we sat down with him at C2 in Montreal to talk about what Estonia can teach the rest of the world.
Jun 01, 2018
Cryptocurrency: Future or Folly? Event Highlights (Apr. 26, 2018)
Some say cryptocurrency is the future of money. Others think it’s a house of cards that’s going to come crashing down any minute. We hosted a lively discussion about the future of cryptocurrency at our RBCDisruptors event on April 26, 2018. We heard from an entrepreneur who is bullish on the benefits of cryptocurrencies, a venture capitalist who thinks the hype has grown out of control, and a blockchain researcher who says companies needs to understand crypto’s disruptive potential.
Apr 27, 2018
Canada's Skills Revolution: the Human Touch in Healthcare Automation
Robot doctors are still years away, not least because of their cold hands and stilted bedside manner. Yet the transformational power of technology is nowhere more obvious than in healthcare, where data is reshaping diagnostics, implantable sensors are saving lives, and digital video has opened up new opportunities for virtual care. Our guests, Shirlee Sharkey, CEO of in-home care provider Saint Elizabeth Healthcare, and Felicia Kontopidis, a nurse and clinical practice coach, agree that technology is changing everything—but you can't automate the human touch. Part three of three. To read the skills report, go to www.rbc.com/humanswanted
Mar 31, 2018
Canada’s Skills Revolution: Building the Winery of the Future
As part of our look at the skills revolution in Canada, we headed down to the Niagara Peninsula to see how one of Canada’s largest wine companies is training the next generation. Andrew Peller Estates has a partnership with Brock University, bringing in co-op students and building their skills through on-the-job training. RBCDisruptors producer Peter Henderson sat down with John E. Peller, whose grandfather founded the company, and Emma Garner, one of Peller’s top winemakers, to talk about the winemaker of the future. Part two of three. To read the skills report, go to www.rbc.com/humanswanted
Mar 28, 2018
Canada’s Skills Revolution: Feeding the Future
Canada is facing a quiet crisis, In the coming decade, half of all jobs will be disrupted by technology and automation. That's the conclusion from our new report, Humans Wanted, a year-long study of the future of the Canadian workforce. As part of that study, we visited the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph to hear from its director, Evan Fraser, and two student entrepreneurs, Leah Blechschmidt and Amberley Ruetz, about the future of food. Part one of three. To read the report, go to www.rbc.com/humanswanted
Mar 28, 2018
Scott Galloway on Breaking Up Tech's Big Four
Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon control huge swathes of our online lives. That's why we need to seriously consider breaking them up, according to NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway. In his new book, The Four, Galloway makes the case that these original disruptors have come to form an oligopoly—one that is stifling innovation. He says we need a radical new approach to regulating the big four.
Mar 16, 2018
Freshco's Mandy Rennehan on Women in Trades
There’s a serious skilled trades shortage in Canada. Carpenters, plumbers and electricians are retiring faster than they can be replaced. Here’s an easy answer for the problem: encourage more women to get involved. They make up nearly half the workforce in Canada, but less than five per cent in the trades. RBC CEO David McKay spoke with the founder and CEO of construction company Freshco, Mandy Rennehan, about the skilled trades shortage, getting more women into the building industry, and the importance of soft skills such as networking.
Mar 08, 2018
The NFL's Maryann Turcke on Sports Content in the Mobile Age
The NFL is a TV ratings juggernaut: 19 of the 20 most-viewed broadcasts in U.S. history are Super Bowls. But the league is facing new challenges to its dominance in the age of mobile video, at the same time as America's Game has become a cultural flashpoint. The NFL's head of digital, Maryann Turcke, explains how she dealt with player protests, covered off-the-field controversies, and tried to keep the focus on football during a tumultuous year for the league.
Mar 03, 2018
Mnubo's Frederic Bastien on the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things, the network of connected devices that surrounds our everyday life, creates oceans of data every minute. Montreal-based Mnubo uses that data to help companies transform their business, turning companies that make things like HVAC systems into service providers that sell real-time monitoring and maintenance. Founder Frederic Bastien talks IoT, Montreal's startup scene, and what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur.
Feb 25, 2018
Canada's AI Challenge with RBC CEO David McKay & Integrate.AI CEO Steve Irvine
Is Canada falling behind on artificial intelligence? How can we turn machine learning into successful products? And how do you compete for talent against Facebook and Google? RBC CEO David McKay and Integrate.AI founder Steve Irvine explore the challenges facing Canadian companies big and small when it comes to AI.
Feb 08, 2018
Davos Debrief with RBC CEO David McKay
RBC CEO David McKay talks about some of the crises facing the world: political instability, robots taking jobs, cratering trust in institutions. These were the discussion points at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos this year, along with the fact that world markets seem to be completely shrugging them off—nearly every economy on the globe is growing. John Stackhouse sat down with Dave for a debrief after their trip to Switzerland.
Jan 28, 2018
Sidewalk Labs - RBCDisruptors Event Highlights (Jan. 17, 2018)
Here are some of the highlights from our Jan. 17, 2018 live RBCDisruptors event with Dan Doctoroff.
Jan 26, 2018
Sidewalk Labs' Dan Doctoroff: Quayside and the Future of Cities
Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff talks about the Quayside project and his company's plans to build a test lab for the city of the future.
Jan 17, 2018
MLSE's David Hopkinson on Raptors Uprising and eSports
RBCDisruptors host John Stackhouse sat down with MLSE's David Hopkinson in December to talk about Raptors Uprising and the rise of eSports.
Jan 05, 2018