June 11, 2021 – Toronto-based Pender & Howe Executive Search recently placed Kerry Wright as the new chief executive officer for CAAIN, the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network in Edmonton, Alberta. The non-profit organization supports the creation of technological solutions for challenges facing Canada’s agri-food sector. The search was spearheaded by managing principals Glenn Lesko and Travis Hann. Canada is currently ranked as the world’s fifth-largest exporter of agricultural commodities and the 11th largest provider of agri-food globally. With the global population projected to rise to 10 billion in 2050, along with accelerated investment in research and innovation, the entire agri-foods sector has the potential for exponential growth.
“Ultimately, what set Kerry apart from some other excellent candidates were her breadth and depth of experience, her belief in the Canadian agri-food sector’s tremendous untapped value, and that CAAIN is poised to unearth and support that potential,” said Laura Kilcrease, chair of CAAIN’s board of directors.
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Ms. Wright joins CAAIN after a lengthy career in the agri-food sector with leadership roles at the Beef Information Centre, the Mallot Creek Group, and, most recently, Champion Petfoods, where she was vice president of technical product development and innovation.
Ms. Wright responsibilities include championing CAAIN’s vision, mission and strategic priorities with persuasive and effective communications to achieve support from internal and external stakeholders and grow the organization’s resource base. She will also work with the non-profit’s board of directors and its committees, ensuring they have appropriate and timely advice, background information and knowledge of CAAIN’s affairs, and issues.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have the opportunity to join the CAAIN family,“ said Ms. Wright. “It’s a privilege to carry on the work begun by Dr. Cornelia Kreplin. The projects we are going to fund will transform Canada’s agri-tech landscape and make our food sector more competitive at home and internationally.”
CAAIN, which was launched in 2019, looks to bring together technology and agri-food companies focused on creating and integrating automated and digitized solutions in Canada’s agri-food sector. The non-profit is driven by agri-food developments in the areas of artificial intelligence, advanced sensor technologies, hyperspectral imaging, and blockchain applications for Canadian agri-food producers.
Pender & Howe Executive Search is a boutique executive search firm with offices in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Edmonton, Vancouver and San Francisco. The firm has more than 30 years of combined experience in leadership advisory and executive search. Pender & Howe focuses on collaborating with governing boards and CEOs in identifying world class executive leaders. It provides leadership solutions that encompass venture capital firms, private equity, new technologies, emerging sectors, as well as board advisory positions. Its clients range from pre-seed startups and VC-backed disrupters to global public companies. Specialties include executive search, CEO search, leadership strategy, succession planning, executive assessment, talent management, executive recruiting, culture transformation, board services and digital transformation.
Mr. Lesko co-leads Pender & Howe’s North American operations. Previously, he built and led the education, life sciences and consumer goods practice for Lock Search Group, Pender & Howe’s sister firm in Western Canada.
Mr. Hann co-leads Pender & Howe’s North American operations. Previously, he built and led the automotive and mobility practice for Lock Search Group. Mr. Hann’s primary focus is partnering with both founders and venture investors on new business initiatives. He leads the business strategy in identifying and attracting senior executives to joining new, revolutionary businesses.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media