WatSPEED is the University of Waterloo’s professional education and executive training program, designed to help businesses bridge the gap between technology and business strategy.
In Part 1 of our interview with Jean-Paul Mouton, Corporate Development Lead for WatSPEED, we learned about how WatSPEED programs give individuals and organizations the tools they need to navigate the changing business landscape.
In Part 2, we continue our discussion with Jean-Paul, exploring the convening power of WatSPEED – notably between industry, academia and government – in broaching important conversations about tech and workforce trends that are impacting businesses of all sectors in Canada and beyond.
A prime example of this is WatSPEED’s upcoming Tech Horizons Executive Forum, which takes place on November 8 in Toronto and includes an impressive speaker line-up (including special guests from Waterloo, insightful panels and interactive sessions – all designed to empower executives to lead through change.
Don’t worry! If you can’t attend the event, there’s lots of other opportunities to engage with WatSPEED. We’ll cover those, too.
Let’s learn more about the event from Jean-Paul:
Q: The Tech Horizons Executive Forum in November aims to help senior leaders understand emerging technologies impacting their business. What are some of the key trends or topics that will be covered?
MOUTON: Tech Horizons is WatSPEED’s flagship event and it’s a crucial part of how we’re delivering on our mandate to increase the momentum of digital transformation in Canada. A key piece of that puzzle is ensuring that our business and public sector leaders are informed about the state of technology today, as well as trends beyond the immediate horizon.
Senior leaders will learn from their peers and from the University of Waterloo’s globally-leading faculty across diverse subject areas including AI, robotics and automation, cybersecurity and cleantech.
" The agenda also offers deep dives into key strategic questions that business and public sector leaders are called on to answer, such as how to navigate digital transformation, how to think about adopting, creating and promoting innovation and how to lead in times of disruption. "
Corporate Development Lead at WatSPEED
Q: The forum features an impressive lineup, including Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, and Dave McKay, President and CEO of RBC. How were these speakers chosen and what unique perspectives will they offer?
MOUTON: Yes, we’ve got a great lineup of speakers for Tech Horizons! We’ve specifically selected both our speakers and our agenda to reflect the areas of greatest opportunity and threat for the Canadian economy and society and to promote dialogue around strategies for navigating disruption.
Sam is obviously internationally renowned for bringing ChatGPT and DALL·E to the world. His presence at the Forum really underscores the importance of AI in shaping the future of business and society. The arrival of widely available AI technology represents an inflection point in human history. As such, we’ll go beyond the commercial implications to lean into the ethical considerations and potential pitfalls of AI deployment, particularly examining the importance of pursuing a human-centred approach.
Dave McKay, CEO at RBC and Canada’s Outstanding CEO for the Year 2022, will have a fireside chat with University of Waterloo President Vivek Goel where Dave will share invaluable insights into RBC’s transformative journey in the digital age and discuss the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the financial services sector in Canada and beyond. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Dave is also a University of Waterloo Math alumnus!
From there, we’ll explore several critical sectors including robotics and automation, cybersecurity and cleantech. In these panel discussions and breakout sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to engage with global leaders in their field, such as Dr. Michele Mosca who is co-founder of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) and a founding member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Michele will speak to the question of quantum readiness, a notion that will be keeping executives across Canada up at night. We know that quantum computing will break public-key cryptography, which will massively impact operations and infrastructure.
The cleantech panel discussion is another highlight on the agenda, especially since Canada is the only country in the Western hemisphere with a functional end-to-end supply chain for electric vehicles. Building out this sector represents a potential addition of $48B to the Canadian economy annually by 2030, according to Clean Energy Canada.
We’re delighted to have Marissa West, President and Managing Director of GM Canada, and Chris Beiderman, CTO of Li-Cycle, join us as we uncover areas of opportunity associated with this new technology.
Q: What do you hope attendees will take away from this event? Are there any key strategies or tools they’ll be able to start using right away?
MOUTON: There will be a great deal of knowledge mobilized, information shared and conversations started at Tech Horizons. One of the sessions that I think will have the broadest impact is our Technology Collisions active learning session with Joël Blit, Chair of the University of Waterloo’s Council on Innovation Policy and Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).
Joël will lead attendees through exercises designed to empower them with a strategic lens for thinking about the adoption of new innovations within their organizations.
From replacing outdated technologies to reimagining entire business models and merging various technologies to forge new products and services, this session will ignite insightful discussions and provide attendees with a framework for innovation.
Q: How else can companies engage with WatSPEED? Are there any new programs, launches, or events beyond Tech Horizons happening in the next six months?
MOUTON: Of course, top of mind for many professionals and executives right now is ChatGPT and the generative AI revolution more broadly. We have a lot of excellent programming in this subject area, including a range of courses available this fall.
For professionals building natural language processing models and optimizing their performance, our Foundations of Large Language Models: Tools, Techniques, and Applications program is a game changer. It starts on November 14, 2023.
For those who are looking to advance into roles that include machine learning, we have a great new program, Python for Machine Learning: The Essential Starter Kit, which launches on October 30, 2023.
On the other end of the continuum, our executive sprint, ChatGPT and the Large Language Model Revolution, starts November 21, 2023, and is designed for leaders who need to understand what’s required to implement LLM applications in their organizations.
Our Tech Horizons webinar series also continues this fall when we’ll be focusing on a very timely topic: quantum-safe cryptography. On December 13, 2023, Dr. Michele Mosca will join us to highlight the critical need for organizations to develop quantum-ready cybersecurity capabilities or risk catastrophic system failures. Register for free today: “Your Technology Radar: Are You Quantum Ready?”
Leading change from Waterloo
WatSPEED sums up today’s tech and workforce challenges perfectly: adaptation is no longer an option.
The Tech Horizons Executive Forum is one of many ways WatSPEED is advancing the conversation around today’s tech trends and the impact they have on the business world. With carefully curated professional education programs and an urgent focus on workforce development, WatSPEED is helping invent the future of work from its home in Waterloo.
Looking to join a collaborative technical hub? Waterloo may be a great fit for your next expansion.