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Maryscott Greenwood, Canadian American Business Council CEO: “We stand up to protectionist policies and work to build cooperative approaches to economic recovery”


Foreign business relations affect our daily life, even though we might not realize it – even things like housing mortgage is also affected by the international market conditions. As a result of this, the relationship between countries has a significant effect on businesses that thrive in them. Even though businesses are known for establishing peace at the academic levels, very less attention is given to creating strategies or policies to promote positive synergies. One can easily look for new opportunities beyond the domestic circuit by maintaining good foreign business relations. In recent times, national economies have become borderless and have merged to form the world economy.

Globally there are various entities that mediate between countries and act as a voice to promote cross-border commerce, but Canadian American Business Council stands out from the rest. The Council is a convener, advocate, and trusted voice on bilateral issues. Canadian American Business Council brings together public and private sector leaders to address topical challenges and seize new opportunities in the world’s most prosperous bilateral relationship.

In conversation with Maryscott Greenwood, CEO of Canadian American Business Council

Q. What was the motivation behind starting Canadian American Business Council?

The Council was founded in 1986 during policy debates about the merits of free trade. At the time, the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC heard from nay-sayers on the question of free trade and wondered, “Where were the champions?” The Council was sparked by champions of free trade who believed that Canada and US cooperation on the world stage would yield great benefits on both sides of the border.

Q. Engagement is at the heart of every event, whether it is business or casual. How can you provide better engagement?

We create all kinds of settings, from informal gatherings to diplomatic exchanges, to allow our members to develop deep relationships with each other and with governmental leaders who seek our insights. Whether it’s a dinner in a yurt on the side of a mountain in Montana, an arrival ceremony on the south lawn of the White House, or a dinner conversation with policymakers in Halifax, the Council constantly innovates new interactions for our members.

Q. Tell us about your data accumulation method for improving the experience of the event participants. 

We look at qualitative feedback for all of our activities. Whether it is debriefing on each event to see what went well and what could be improved or convening Board discussions to compare our activities with other organizations, we are continuously improving. As for quantitative metrics, we look at media engagement as one measure of how many people we reach on a quarterly basis.

Q. Have you always been entrepreneurial? What led you to taking that first step and setting up your own business?

Personally, I have always had a creative instinct but lacked the courage to start my own business until recently. The Canadian American Business Council has been housed in a large firm where I worked for 20 years. It wasn’t until we had two decades of experience under our belt that I felt it would be safe to take the leap and create a business. We launched Crestview US in 2019, which provides the secretariat to the Council, and haven’t looked back. The experience of setting up our own shop has been rewarding, even during the recent challenges of the pandemic.

Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Clarity of purpose, fearlessness, and sense of humor. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have clarity of purpose so that you can articulate your differentiators in the marketplace. You have to be fearless because entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily come with a safety net. If your business falters, you have to re-set, dust off, learn from the mistake, and start again. And you have to have a sense of humor because there will be curveballs that come your way. The curveballs can be daunting, or you can face them with enough good humor and common sense that you’re not derailed along the way.

Q. Keeping in mind the social and cultural bondages which generally trim down the freedom, confidence and boldness of women, what steps/programs/policies you would like to suggest for the women who want to be successful like you?

I would say that it’s important to focus on what gives you strength and not worry about the things that scare you. If you enjoy pump-up music – by gosh – crank it up. If you love a hard workout, make time in your life for that workout. Do not assume that your routine has to look like anyone else’s. If you stay focused on whatever or whomever it is that builds you up, you will be doing well. Have rituals that make you happy in order to face the challenges that will inevitably come your way.

Q. What other entrepreneurs do you look up to? Why?

I hope it’s not cliché to say that I look up to Oprah and Taylor Swift. These are two wildly successful entrepreneurs who have not only built their own brands but adapted to changing times and had great success across platforms, markets, and generations.

Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?   

Our newest project is our Canusa Street podcast. It comes on the heels of our insightful roundtable series entitled Corporate Action on Social Justice.

Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?

The CABC is an example of how to engage in authentic, action-oriented dialogue between businesses and governments. We are excited to help shape the next chapter in Canada/US engagement. In particular, we are focused on bilateral cooperation on the development of critical minerals and rare earth – used in everything from solar cells to electric vehicle batteries to consumer and defense goods.

Meet the leaders behind the success of Canadian American Business Council

CABC’s Board chair and Vice Chair together have created a leadership team that is emblematic of great Canada/US cooperation as well as the council’s values of engagement and empowerment. CABC’s Chair, Jenn Sloan is the Vice President for Public Policy/Canada at Mastercard.  The council’s first Vice Chair, Helene Gagnon is the Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President of Stakeholder Relations at CAE. CABC’s Corporate Social Responsibility Lead is Clint Odom, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at T-Mobile.  

“We create all kinds of settings, from informal gatherings to diplomatic exchanges to allow our members to develop deep relationships with each other and with governmental leaders who seek our insights”