By: Matt Penstone
“Most of the leading companies today realize that they don’t exist for profit alone; that they must exist in harmony with the community.”
It’s a philosophy promoted by Algonquin President Kent MacDonald as he delivered a keynote address to a crowd of 100-plus members of the Ottawa business community.
The event, called “Eggs and Icons” took place on Nov. 8 and was hosted at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Ottawa.
It allowed small and medium business owners from the Ottawa area, Chamber of Commerce members and graduates of Algonquin College to network and discuss the need for sustainability.
The event came just two days after Algonquin College hosted the fifth annual Canadian corporate social responsibility conference.
“Ninety-one per cent of Canadians are expecting businesses to not only conduct their business in a profitable way, but how will they be working with our community to ensure that it remains sustainable,”
said MacDonald. “And not just environmentally sustainable, economically and socially sustainable.”
There were two main topics highlighted during the conference: the need for businesses to lead the way towards sustainability and the importance of small businesses have on our economy.
Along with that it allowed MacDonald to promote Algonquin College as a school that offers the type of cutting edge training that industries are looking for.
“Small and medium enterprise group need to drive our economy that’s been demonstrated,” said MacDonald.
“So when we can get this many business leaders in one room and they afford me the opportunity to speak about Algonquin College today and where we’re going in the future and how we need to be continuing to work with industry to have that relationship; it’s a win-win.
“It’s a win for us because it allows me to speak about our faculty and staff and students and our programming,” said MacDonald.
“It’s a win for them though to become better acquainted with the type of education and training we can provide them.”
Among the people in attendance was Algonquin alumni Dave Hale.
Hale is a graduate of the college’s business marketing program and runs a company called Soshal Group.
The company is entering its third year of operations and currently employs 15 people.
The company does digital marketing and their clientele includes Algonquin College.
“I really think that in order to achieve sustainability it is not actually going to be led by businesses it’s going to be led by people who happen to work for businesses,” said Hale.
“I think that mentality shift needs to take place in order for sustainability in a corporate structure to actually happen.”
Hale offered advice for young professionals that he has learned from his personal experiences as a business owner.
“Young entrepreneurs… feel they have setbacks, they have a lot of disadvantages compared to if they had
20 years experience,” said Hale.
“I don’t think that’s true in the day that we live today. Maybe my partners and I are anomalies, we’re in an industry where the younger you are the more you know. I think a lot of businesses need millennials and need young professionals to continue to innovate.”
Following MacDonald’s speech faculty from the college were on site to accept a platinum level LEED certification for the recently constructed ACCE building.
The certification was given for the building’s energy consumption and efficiency and its sustainable design.