“Our board of directors recognized the significant impact Chris has had across our organization and, most critically, in international markets,” said Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global. Malcolm noted that despite the COVID-19 pandemic decreasing foreign direct investment around the world by approximately 40%, the Edmonton Metropolitan Region saw significant attention from international investors and partners. “One of the big challenges we’ve historically had as a region is low awareness levels. As Canada’s 5th largest economy and strongest trade growth, there’s a ton of opportunity here, but we’ve been under the radar. Through Chris’ leadership and vision, our marketing team is quickly changing that.”
Chris first joined Edmonton Global in January 2019 as the first director of marketing and communications and the 7th overall employee. While he was the only employee with responsibility for marketing and communications for his first 18 months with Edmonton Global, Chris has always looked for ways to incorporate a team approach.
“When I first joined Edmonton Global, there was already work being done by Justin Archer and the team at Berlin Communications to stand up the presence of Edmonton Global,” says Chris. “There was also outstanding work being done by Ted Kouri and Tricia Kushniruk at Incite, Chris Steele’s team at Conway, and Sheri Doyle with Digital Owl. Together, we started to build the brand of Edmonton Global and the strategy behind how we would begin positioning the Edmonton Metropolitan Region around the world.”
“Within a few months of starting with us, Chris led a number of transformative initiatives for our organization. He conducted investor research, created a new visual identity for Edmonton Global and launched a new regional narrative. Based on this work, he also built a website from scratch that’s been translated into 7 languages and launched a series of activities and materials out into the world,” added Malcolm. “Chris has kept us moving fast and been very focused on ensuring everything we’re doing connects directly to our purpose – to radically transform and grow the economy of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.”
Moving quickly, was the theme of 2020 where Edmonton Global pivoted to engaging with international investors through webinars. “We didn’t want to have investors sit through a typical zoom meeting to learn about opportunities here,” noted Chris. “We’re building a brand that’s about talent, innovation, and opportunity. We wanted every interaction with us to reflect that.” Edmonton Global’s marketing team added its second member, Sherri Bouslama in the summer of 2020 as a marketing and communications strategist. Together, they worked closely with the creative minds behind Be A Dreamer Films (BAD Films), brothers Moh and Maz Mahfouz, to build a series of engaging webinars targeting international investors.
“We treated our webinars more like mash-ups of documentary films and talk shows,” said Chris. “So much of our time is spent staring at a screen, we wanted to ensure we were delivering highly engaging content that recognized how valuable people’s time and attention is. And besides, who wants to do something boring that can be easily copied by others?”
Those webinars, particularly the session on Diabetes at the turning point and Plant protein fractionation, attracted the attention of many of the world’s biggest investors. “For the protein fractionation webinar alone, we had C-Suite decision-makers from more than 22 countries attend,” said Malcolm. “It’s very challenging to draw in a high-quality audience. With the collaborative approach we’ve had, both within our team and with Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, we’ve seen remarkable success.”
For 2021, the marketing and communications team at Edmonton Global will continue to actively target investors in key markets around the world and build a digital first approach to sharing the Edmonton Metropolitan Region’s story with the world. “There’s still so much to do,” added Chris. “We’ve only just begun to pull together the region’s marketing and communications leaders to help us collectively harmonize and align on the opportunities that exist here. It’s an incredibly exciting time to live in the Edmonton region and it’s an immense privilege to be part of a team that is dedicated to positively impacting our community.”
Immediately before joining Edmonton Global, Chris was the director of communications and community engagement with Athabasca University and prior to that, director of marketing and communications with Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business. He also worked for several years within the City of Edmonton’s Communications Branch where he led a number of projects including Edmonton’s centennial in 2004. He is a past director of St. Albert’s Chamber of Commerce, is past-chair of St. Albert’s Economic Sustainability Advisory Board. He is a member of Invest in Canada’s PanCanadian Marketing Committee, Consider Canada Cities Alliance Communications Committee, and NanoCanada’s International Conference Organizing Committee. On weekends, he leads Marmot Basin’s volunteer ski patrol as a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol.