We all get here eventually. We start out inspired to do good in whatever it is we do. For me it was journalism, for Alaina it was local and then national government, for others it’s through work or volunteering – however and wherever we think we can make a difference. But, and we all eventually get to this very big ‘but’, we soon realize we alone can’t drive change. It’s going to take an all-of-society push to move us towards a kinder, gentler, more equitable world. Doing that will require a new type of leadership – the kind that brings people together to collectively use their knowledge, experience and energy to influence deep change within the systems we’ve set up to govern and guide our communities.

In today’s Happy to be Here episode we turn our attention to how you begin to step up and out into this new way of leading. Alison Loat and Keith McIntosh are successful practitioners of this form of influential leadership. Both have in their own way followed the path of the Long Hunch, a concept credited to author Steven Johnson and mentioned by Jenelle Sobey back in Episode 4, our data episode. It’s the idea that big new ideas don’t arrive like a lightning bolt of inspiration but are developed over years of observation, experimentation and engagement. It’s the artistic process and scientific method of yore re-imagined for the knowledge age.

Alison’s path started in the world of public policy and brought her to institutional investing and financial markets. Her career began at global management consultancy McKinsey & Company working on health systems but that’s not where she stayed. Just over a decade ago she co-founded the Samara Centre for Democracy, a charity that works to improve the health of Canada’s democracy, which is how we met. During that time she published the bestseller Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak out About Canada’s Failing Democracy. The book is the culmination of a significant research project, which included 80 exit interviews with Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to better understand what is going wrong with government. From there she became the senior managing director of FCLTGlobal (Focusing Capital on the Long Term) where she worked with leading asset owners, asset managers and companies to advance practical approaches to long-term investing. Last year she became the first managing director of sustainable investing and innovation at OPTrust, which invests and manages one of Canada’s largest pension funds and administers the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) Pension Plan and OPTrust Select, a defined benefit plan with over 96,000 members and retirees.

Keith has spent his career looking for opportunities to use technology to drive change in his home province of New Brunswick via his company PQA Testing. Founded in 1997 it conducts software testing, which provides clients with an independent view of software to better understand possible risks and verify software will serve the organization’s needs prior to implementation. He began wanted to help create well-paying technology jobs that could be part of New Brunswick’s shift to a knowledge economy. Then in 2015 he participated in the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, which brings together emerging leaders from business, labour, government, NGOs, education and the cultural sector for a unique two-week experience aimed at broadening their perspectives on work, leadership, their communities and their country. That took him to the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake, which is located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Montreal. He was shocked by the inequity he saw between the two communities and returned to New Brunswick intent on figuring out how he could influence change. His answer was PLATO Testing, the world’s first Indigenous-staffed and led software testing company. Since being launched in 2015, PLATO Testing has trained more than 170 members of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in software testing, making an impact in more than 50 communities across the country, and injecting more than $7 million directly into the Indigenous economy. PLATO Testing’s mission is to develop a network of 1,000 Indigenous software testers in 20 communities through training and employment.


A co-production of the Deep Change Network and Unsettled Media