February 19, 2021 – Toronto-based Pender & Howe Executive Search has been tapped to find a 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 is being 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.
“Advances in artificial intelligence, advanced sensor technologies, hyperspectral imaging and blockchain applications will transform the production, packaging, distribution and marketing of Canada’s agriculture and food products,” said the search firm. “The CEO will lead an organization tasked with supporting the exploration and development of such innovations.” The CEO will be expected to develop relationships across the agri-food ecosystem, foster growth of existing partnerships between private and public organizations, build bridges with the high-tech sector and leverage existing partnerships between CAAIN and the more than 50 organizations currently involved in a range of supported Network projects.
A High-Profile Role
“As the public face of CAAIN, the CEO will occupy a high-profile leadership role with the potential to influence significant outcomes in agri-food prosperity and technology success for Canada,” said the search firm.
The CEO is the operational decision-maker of CAAIN and will develop, guide and communicate its overall vision and strategy, said Pender & Howe Executive Search. Providing leadership and guidance for the work of all other CAAIN employees, the CEO will ensure that CAAIN’s strategic objectives are identified, measured and met.
Responsibilities of the role 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. The CEO must 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. The job further calls for developing and implementing CAAIN business plans by leading the development of goals, implementation tactics, performance measures and monitoring against targets.
Candidates should have a post-graduate degree in agriculture or business; a post-graduate degree in a related discipline is preferred, said the search firm. A minimum of 10 years of progressively responsible experience including at least five years of experience in executive-level roles, including leading and managing diverse groups of staff and financial portfolios, is required. Prospects must also have agriculture, food, or related technology industry experience.
Pender & Howe Executive Search said that experience in public/private partnerships would be an asset. Candidates should also have demonstrated ability to collaborate strategically with stakeholders and other decision-makers while balancing the needs and interests of these diverse groups with a board’s business objectives. The ideal candidate would be a self-starter who is willing to take risks and who can park his/her ego work as a team player.
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