Chris Albinson, C100’s Co-Founder, will take the reins as CEO at Waterloo-based Communitech starting May 17th. We are thrilled to see the leadership that Chris will bring to Communitech and how he will continue to help Canada “Own the Podium” in the world’s innovation economy. Congratulations Chris!
“There is no question. Communitech and the Waterloo Region are the cornerstone of the Canadian innovation community and the perfect place to create a new Own The Podium plan — one tailored to support Canada in becoming the dominant player in global innovation”, shared Albinson in his latest post discussing the announcement.
Albinson sat down with the C100 to discuss what this opportunity means to him.
What does repatriating back to Canada mean to you?
It’s been something I’m thinking about for a long time. During the pandemic, I returned home to Ontario. Being back home for as long as we were sheltering in place during the pandemic, proved to be a reminder of all the things we loved about Canada. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be.
Two years ago, I wrote about Canada having an opportunity to be a global hub for innovation. Silicon Valley isn’t a “fixed” thing. We saw a mass exodus of the tech center move from Boston to Silicon Valley in the early 1990s and now, it’s moving again. The question is, where is it moving to? I believe Canada is set up to be the next global tech hub.
This pandemic proved that barriers we used to think about are not as big as we thought they were, especially in terms of geographic location and building companies from the Yukon, to Saskatoon to St. John’s. I think Canadians want to build companies not only that can be globally successful but also are tech for good.
It was exciting for me to mentor Harley [Finkelstein] and Tobi [Lütke] (President, and CEO of Shopify, respectively) in the early days. Being a champion and supporter of founders is very exciting to me and success would be about finding ways to build the next 15 Shopifys in Canada.
What are you most looking forward to in this new chapter as CEO at Communitech?
Iain Klugman built an amazing organization and the foundation of the house is incredibly strong; the culture, mission, ethos, and passion for helping Canadian founders. I was asked recently, ‘what are you going to come in and shake up?’, but the answer is: nothing. It’s a great organization in a great place (Waterloo being, in my opinion, the fountainhead of innovation for Canada) and I’m looking to accelerate what they’ve built.
Role of global Canadians in Canada’s innovation economy?
When Own the Podium was put together for Canada to win more gold medals than any other country, half the hockey players happened to have been working in the United States and it wasn’t a problem for any of us. Half of the other athletes competing in other events were amateur athletes at Universities and Colleges around the world, but they came together to prove that Canada belongs at the top of the podium.
That is what it will take for our collective success as a country. Bringing together the best of the best, no matter where they are, and we will all be better for that. Let’s find the Luc Levesques, and pull them out of Facebook to come to Shopify [story reference]. Does it matter where they are living? No. Does it matter that Andrew MacDonald (SVP, Mobility and Business Operations at Uber) and Nilam Ganenthiran (President at Instacart) run global businesses from Toronto? No. It matters that there is a strong team and culture behind a company. What matters is that global leaders are working together to make success happen.
Article written by Lauren Howe, C100. Please provide any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.