Sustainability through resilience: The ONE National Conference 2017

Beyond networking opportunities and topics around leadership and innovation, The ONE highlighted the importance of business resilience and adaptability. Learn more about what you missed.

The fourth annual The ONE national conference took place in Ottawa in September of this year. More than 1,300 CPAs from across Canada and around the world came together to engage in thought-provoking discussions on the ongoing and growing impact of sustainability and adaptability issues on businesses, among other topics.

Jointly presented by CPA Canada and CPA Ontario, the conference centered on the theme of "Sustainability Through Resilience – Building the Next 150." The theme reverberated throughout the event's agenda, speakers and sessions, and reached an even larger audience via social media, with 2.3 million impressions generated by the end of the conference.

This year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a special recorded message praising CPAs for their continued work in helping to build a "clean-growth economy that will be sustainable for generations to come."

In addition, there were live presentations from two federal cabinet ministers. The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, spoke extensively about the government's proposed changes to tax planning for private corporations. The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and an FCPA, FCMA himself, talked about job creation through innovation, a topic that tied in to multiple session topics throughout the conference.

A "beautiful crisis"

Perhaps one of the most resonant topics was that of keynote speaker Justin Kingsley, former Government of Canada spokesperson, and current author, strategist, creative director, and storyteller extraordinaire. Kingsley stressed the importance of facing change and challenges as "beautiful crises" that offer opportunities to change each potential crisis or scandal into an opportunity.

These and other ideas were all expanded on in sessions that covered everything from NAFTA and the new trade environment, and big data and AI developments, to innovation in the age of disruption, and risk management of cybersecurity, social, economic and environmental risks.

Fighting fear, understanding connectivity

Shawn Kanungo, innovation leader at Deloitte in Edmonton, presented a keynote on navigating technology disruption. "Fear is killing innovation," stated Kanungo. To determine success, he advised participants to "track the ecosystem, not the growth of individual technologies."

The conference culminated with a call to action from keynote speaker Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and environmental, cultural and human rights advocate. "A human rights-based approach is the best approach to halt climate change." Watt-Cloutier stressed the importance of connecting the local to the global, and looking at how the industries we support and the policies we create are impacting people and the global environment. "It's not about tomorrow, it's about today," she stated. "As the Arctic melts, it's impacting everything. We are all connected."

The connective nature of the urgent issues affecting today's organizations was a common theme in many sessions, highlighting the need for CPAs with next-generation thinking. "The need for adaptation and innovation is on the rise," stated Joy Thomas, president and CEO, CPA Canada, during her welcome address. "Senior leaders in business are facing new levels of complexity. How we respond to this is critical. Next-generation CPAs must be flexible, future-focused and accountable."

"The growing level of change and disruption in the business world makes these topics urgent and highly relevant for our members," adds Janet Treasure, vice-president, Member Development and Support, CPA Canada. "It's the root of our 'sustainability through resilience' theme this year."

A "one-stop shop"

Further session topics included improving financial literacy in your community, the sustainability of globalization, gender diversity, audit and tax issues, financial reporting updates to IFRS and ASPE, doing business with the U.S., and technology trends.

"As a profession, we need to keep abreast of innovations that affect our work. The ONE Conference provides an ideal opportunity to engage with experts across fields experiencing great change," noted Carol Wilding, president and CEO, CPA Ontario.

"The ONE has been and will always be a one-stop-opportunity for our members to connect with CPAs from across various sectors, and to gain valuable knowledge about emerging challenges and opportunities facing the profession," commented Thomas. "The ONE's agenda, no matter the year, no matter the conference location, continually impresses with the with broad range of relevant and timely issues addressed by top-notch speakers and panelists."

Next year, The ONE will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 1 and 2, 2018. Stay tuned for next year's theme and key areas of focus. We look forward to seeing you there.

Editor's note

The next issue of Member News will land in your inbox on November 13, 2017. Enjoy the issue and, as always, let us know what you think!