CEO Dialogue, Mairead Lavery – February 2022

Export Development Canada (EDC) is dedicated to helping Canadian companies of all sizes succeed on the world stage, providing the necessary tools – trade knowledge, financial solutions, equity, insurance, and connections – for business growth.

Mairead Lavery, CEO of EDC, is a passionate promoter of Canada’s exporters and determined to see EDC help thousands more Canadian companies grow and succeed internationally. In the February 2022 edition of OG100’s CEO Dialogue, Mairead shared her perspective on what the pandemic has taught us, how global market trends will affect Canada’s economy, and how the increasing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards will play out.


We must resist the tendency to go “back to normal”, because the pandemic has taught us so much. During a crisis, you don’t have time for perfection: you need to let the business flow differently and give teams the autonomy to make and execute decisions. We need to apply our lessons learned, with the CEO leading and modelling the change. Now, we are all dealing with how we can get our teams to work differently. Most teams from service companies are working from home, some of whom have never met in-person. As we return to work, we have an opportunity to change our cultures. The office will need to be redefined and serve as a hub for customers and employees to build meaningful engagements and team innovation.


EDC’s teams monitor the economies and politics of the 190 markets they work in, with only a handful of restricted markets. Geo-political risks and threats are not just physical, we must also consider trade and cyber warfare. At the same time, trade relationships can sometimes transcend, and help support, diplomatic objectives. Moving forward, EDC will pivot strongly towards Asian markets with a focus on infrastructure, agriculture, and clean tech industries. Canada has great strength and capability in the clean tech industry. One of our greatest growth opportunities lies in leveraging automation and technology to reduce emissions and improve environmental footprint. Overall, Canada has the fundamentals – education and immigration – that create an environment where companies can grow and develop on a global scale. Additionally, known for our strong values and great products, Canada’s brand works in our favour around the world.


While inflation dominates business news today, ESG was making headlines a few months ago as many large, global players made net zero pledges. This will ultimately change the way we all work. EDC’s net zero commitment in 2021 didn’t come lightly. While the EDC operational footprint is low, as a financier and insurer to companies of all sizes, in all industries, this pledge will require in-depth reviews of all clients’ emissions. Many companies will find that their customers or suppliers will require increased reporting and compliance. Large companies with greater resources will eventually get there, but small and mid-size businesses will need strong partners and a strong understanding of their supply chains to comply with the necessary standards. The companies that can prove they are on the pathway to complying or exceeding regulations will become preferred suppliers and customers.