By Tim Manning
Each year, The Vancouver Board of Trade’s Annual General Meeting is an occasion of renewal. It’s a time to identify new ideas, welcome new board members, populate new committees, and embrace new challenges. And, for the past 128 years, it has served as a wonderful benchmark — normally enlightening and often social — where we also are reminded that yet another year has passed.
I felt so fortunate to accept the Chair’s gavel for 2015-16 at our 128th Annual General Meeting earlier this summer. During that event, I stood before hundreds of our Members atop the shoulders of past Chairs, board directors, staff, and thousands of volunteers who through their dedication and perseverance have made this organization so successful.
It is the tradition of The Vancouver Board of Trade that the incoming chair establishes some high-level priorities for the organization to advance during his or her term. With that in mind, I want to take this opportunity to share with you my three priorities for the coming year: Diversity, Youth, and the launch of a Regional Economic Scorecard.
Leading by example
First and foremost, I was ecstatic to announce at our AGM on June 26 that we have made history this year. In electing our 2015-16 board of directors, TheVancouver Board of Trade has become the only major business organization of our kind in Canada — possibly North America — to have more women on our board of directors than men. We have not only achieved gender balance, we have surpassed it, 19-17. (Read the full press release)
I am similarly delighted that we have elected Alice Chen and Christopher Lythgo to our board. In doing so, we have placed into our senior leadership a 35-year old highly successful women entrepreneur and the volunteer Chair of our Company of Young Professionals program. With the changing face of our membership becoming younger, Alice and Christopher will be bringing a crucial perspective to our conversations, and we are so grateful that they have agreed to serve.
A new membership model
My second significant announcement at this year’s AGM was that, after almost three years of planning, we have begun rolling out a new “tiered” (or value-based) Membership model this summer. This is a major departure from our Membership fee structure of the last few decades, and reflects how we represent all types and sizes of business.
The new Membership fee model is considerably simplified, with lower price points for almost all our Member classifications, and clearly defined benefits at each level. (Read more about our new membership levels)
A new era for advocacy
More visible to the outside world than modernizing our Membership model, we also strive to lead by taking public stances on issues that impact businesses across Greater Vancouver, and thus our communities and the standard of living we aspire to have for our families.
To that end, I am very proud of The Vancouver Board of Trade’s re-emergence as the “go-to” voice of business, and the specific, pivotal leadership roles our team has taken over the past year, including our key role as a founding member of the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition, which spurred us to really start thinking regionally.
Along those lines, I was excited to announce a new agreement with the Conference Board of Canada in 2015-16, to partner on the task of establishing a regional economic scorecard. The significant data collection and research element of that project has already begun this summer, and will involve benchmarking Greater Vancouver against 20 similar regions from around the world, using relevant economic and liveability metrics.
This Regional Economic Scorecard will be the most comprehensive exercise of its kind in B.C.’s history, and the results will be shared as part of our extraordinary programming for The Vancouver Board of Trade’s 2016 Economic Outlook next January.
I am equally as thrilled to advise that two of our most prominent citizens have agreed to co-chair the steering committee for this pivotal exercise: Vancouver Board of Trade Governor and Rix Award winner Carole Taylor, and retired Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Larry Berg.
I mentioned at the beginning of this column that every Chair has his or her priorities when they assume this role for their one-year term.
I am thrilled that my three priorities of diversity, youth and the development of a regional economic scorecard are reflected perfectly in the announcements I have just shared with you, and will be embedded in everything we do this year. It makes it feel almost serendipitous that my year of term coincides with these crucial initiatives and historical changes.
I am really excited that these changes are just ahead of us, and humbled that the efforts of so many before me — including Janet Austin, Elio Luongo, Ken Martin, Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia to name but four — will come to fruition during my year at the helm of The Vancouver Board of Trade.
Let me close by urging you all — Members and “future Members” alike — to be a part of this milestone year and engage with us, fulsomely and often.
Engage with us as we strive to raise our game yet again, all to serve you better and improve our economic and community success. Challenge us to better serve you when you see areas where we might improve. And celebrate with us once we have reached these milestones that a few short years ago seemed unattainable and unworthy of credible discussion. We are ready for these challenges, both within the board ranks, and within the staff ranks.
Thank you for your support over the past few years, and for being such an important part of this journey going forward.
Tim Manning is 2015-16 Chair of The Vancouver Board of Trade. He also serves as Regional Vice-President of Commercial Financial Services at RBC Royal Bank.