Todd Millar recently joined TEC Canada as a Chair in Calgary, AB, and kindly took some time out to talk to us about his new role and what he hopes to bring to the TEC experience for his members. More information about Todd and his group – TEC 308 – is available on the TEC Canada website.
Why did you choose to become a TEC Chair?
Based on a very successful business transaction, life has afforded me the luxury of analyzing and deciding what my next step was to be. After meeting with Catherine [Osler, President of TEC Canada], and having a chance to review the overall strategy behind TEC Canada – and more importantly, the role of a Chair – I saw a tremendous fit in terms of what I was trying to accomplish in my next stage in life. This included helping others and providing an opportunity whereby somebody in a current CEO role may be afforded a luxury I was given. If I can participate in somebody’s success as a result of a coaching role, then that for me is just a tremendous fit.
What piece of your experience/expertise do you think will be relevant to your Groups or, more specifically, help your members grow?
First and foremost, I’ve been in their chair. I’ve been a president and a CEO of a large corporation and I know what that feels like. It can be the most rewarding experience and, at other times, it can be the loneliest experience in terms of not having a place to go.
I can relate to some of the issues that they have, are going through or have gone through. As I understand the role of putting the group together, I think that probably the most important ingredient is making sure that all members relate to one another, not the least to say that the chair relates to the group. So I think my first-hand experience of being in their spot is probably the biggest benefit right out of the chute.
I was involved with a transaction that, through a series of acquisitions, ultimately climaxed into an acquisition whereby a private equity firm bought the company I was president of, and the private equity firm asked me to continue as the president and CEO of the organization. We had acquired the company for $1.9 billion and seven months later sold it for $2.6 billion. That was a direct testament to the efforts of the leadership team and all the executive members in the organization. That achievement was the direct result of leadership and working together as a team. So when I think about CEOs inside the world of TEC Canada, clearly I can see how my experience would benefit so many who are presently in an environment where maybe they’re striving to have that ultimate exit or at the very least build a dynamic high performing team that produces results.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Canadian business today?
In today’s economic times, we’re probably in the biggest stranglehold from an economic situation that anyone in business today has experienced. And it doesn’t seem to be easing up. When we think about the challenges inside an economic meltdown on a global level, it demands some very, very creative thinking – regardless of which industry you’re in and how much you believe you are being impacted on an international level. These times are challenging, so Canadian business today need to be thinking on a global front; they need to be thinking about the challenges that are ahead of them relative to the economy and, more than ever, they need to be focusing on their internal skills and what they are actually offering to customers – product or service – to make sure that they’re continuing to be successful.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing business leaders as individuals?
You’ve got upwards of 10,000 baby boomers retiring or turning 65 – fundamentally retiring – every single day in North America. Of course, the individuals replacing the baby boomers inside the workforce today are very different from what the historic workforce has looked like. When I think of leadership today and where CEOs are going in the future, they’re dealing with a completely new individual, a new demographic, a new person that they’ve got to become more in touch with than ever before. I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge for leadership organizations and leadership teams going forward: How do we relate? How do we meet the needs of these new generations? What are we doing to attract the talent and maintain the talent?
How do you keep work-life balance? How do you spend your ‘life’ time?
I probably didn’t do a very good job when I was sitting in the chair of CEO, and that’s probably a common thread amongst many people that are or have been in the CEO or president’s role.
I learned a lot of important lessons as a result of the acquisition of the company I mentioned earlier. And from that day, six years ago, it just became absolutely critical that no matter what I’m engaged in – and my wife would tell you today that I’m just as busy today as I was before – I absolutely have a clear understanding of the most important things in life. I have little tools that I keep to make sure that I stay focused. My mantra is: there are three things that are most important in life; self, family and job. Make sure you always keep them in that order.