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A look back at the Redbrick Leaders Summit
Sep 17, 2023
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Our second annual Leaders Summit was an action-packed success. All of our executives, managers, and leaders across our portfolio flew into Victoria for three days of cross-collaboration and leadership talks.

What is the Redbrick Leaders Summit?

After two years of remote connections and a lack of in-person events, our Leaders Summit started as a way for us to reconnect across our companies.

For three days in August, we gather all the leaders across Redbrick and our portfolio at our headquarters in Victoria. Whether that’s company executives, managers, or anyone who’s demonstrated leadership, we all get together to reflect on our skills and explore new ways of thinking.

"Every year, we come together as a group, surrounded by nature, to reflect on our journey, envision the future, and equip ourselves with the insights and tools necessary to lead in an ever-evolving landscape."

Tobyn Sowden

We’re big believers that relationships are the foundation of our best ideas. The key ingredient in our recipe for success is that we work with great people (and we have a great time while we do it).

And while we can make magic happen while collaborating remotely, there’s something about an in-person connection that you just can’t beat. Whether that’s operating a tandem kayak for the first time with a team member you’ve only met on Zoom, or getting coffee with someone in your position at a different company in our portfolio.

We don’t need our everyday to be in-person, but bringing all our leaders together once a year is an opportunity to blow off some steam, celebrate our progress, and set us up for another successful year.

For this year’s summit, we chose the theme Evolve. In light of AI rapidly changing the landscape of the software industry, it’s a good time to look toward the future and learn about how we can welcome change as a business, as a team, and as individual leaders.

How do we evolve as leaders?

Over our three-day summit, we kicked off every morning with speaker presentations. We heard from a line-up of people that included everyone from founders and tech experts to professors and medical researchers.

Following through on bold ambitions

Manjit Minhas, a long-standing judge on Dragon’s Den talked us through her journey building a Canadian liquor empire. At nineteen, Manjit co-founded Minhas Breweries—becoming the youngest brewery owner in the world.

Her presentation encouraged young leaders to find mentorship and pursue opportunities fearlessly. For our more seasoned leaders, Manjit’s words of wisdom were, “everything can be negotiated.” Manjit said learning to negotiate was crucial to every part of a business and that, “you don’t get what you deserve in life, you get what you negotiate.”

Building meta-skills

Dane Jensen, an instructor at Smith School of Business and CEO of Third Factor, introduced us to meta-skills.

Skills allow us to execute. Meta-skills like empathy, resilience, creativity, and self-awareness allow us to evolve.

As tech companies face increasingly rapid change and job descriptions become more fluid, meta-skills are the key to embracing evolution. He talked us through how to pinpoint our weaknesses and how to build on them, and laid out a framework for six key meta-skills: self-awareness, empathy, flexibility, creativity, learning capacity, and resilience.

Taking burnout seriously

Parneet Pal is a Harvard-trained physician working at the intersection of business, lifestyle medicine, and behavior change. Her presentation drew parallels between the climate crisis and cellular inflammation in our own bodies. Parneet’s presentation was an eye-opener: burnout, diet, sleep hygiene, and neglecting self-care all negatively impact our ability to lead.

The inflammation caused by mitochondrial dysfunction—a product of the burnout lifestyle—influences our decision-making, making us impulsive and stuck in old patterns of thinking. To be better leaders, we need to take care of ourselves first (and it’s safe to say the mitochondria jokes will be a permanent fixture in the office).,464,3024,2501&q=75&fit=clip&auto=format

Learning to evolve as a business

Two speakers really drew focus to our industry and how we operate as a business. We heard from Barry Cross, a professor at Queen’s University Smith School of Business. Talking to us about efficiency and lean, evolving as leaders looks like logical problem-solving and providing sustainable value to customers.

Justin Reilly, CEO of Wavelo and former Head of Product at Verizon, addressed the elephant in the tech industry: AI. He stressed the importance of proper data architecture and how easy it should be for your business to check in on those key metrics.

"Full automation may be possible in the future but, for now, most of your value will come from augmentation—helping your human workforce become more efficient. Make augmentation your core strategy. "

Justin Reilly

With insight into everything from customer experience to partnership discussions, Justin really broadened our horizons on just how much AI could impact us. Our biggest takeaway? The best time to start exploring AI is now.

Company show & tell

The shop-talk went beyond our speaker series. Each year, we host a company “show and tell” where our portfolio businesses all prepare a presentation on what they’ve been up to over the last year followed by a Q&A period.

We’ve found a lot of value in this exercise as a parent company, it gives everyone the opportunity to pick the brains of our leaders, share strategies for what worked (and what didn’t)—and everyone feels up to date with what’s happening across our portfolio.

What starts out as a quick question or an off-topic discussion ends up becoming a new opportunity for collaboration.

"At Redbrick, we believe in the power of collaboration and continuous learning. Our Leaders Summit is not just an event; it's our commitment to fostering leadership, nurturing innovation, and building a community that thrives on shared knowledge and mutual growth."

Tobyn Sowden

…And as a team (the fun stuff)

It wouldn’t be a Redbrick get-together if we didn’t balance work with play. The summit started strong with a boat tour in the sun from Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf, followed by a private dinner in the courtyard at Fort Commons. Every dish was farm-to-table and inspired by a sustainable approach to produce and protein.

Day two had Redbrickers kayaking and paddleboarding from Oak Bay marina to Willows Beach. Our guides offered us some history about the local landscape and introduced us to all kinds of sea life from baby seals to bull kelp.

Meanwhile, anyone who wanted to keep two feet on solid ground was playing beach games in the sun and watching our teams paddle out. The day was rounded off with a happy hour for the entire Shared Services team to get a chance to meet colleagues from across all the portfolio companies.

Our final summit day was spent at the Power to Be headquarters where Dane Jensen and Parneet Pal delivered their presentations on-location in a sunny indoor-outdoor gathering space. After a walking tour of the lakeside property, we set up for a Vancouver Island-inspired painting workshop in the forest.

See you next year, Redbrickers!

What a way to kick off the last quarter of the year. Lots of good food, great memories, and even better people—a huge thank you to everyone who made this week happen! It takes months of planning and all hands on deck to make this happen.

Thank you to all our team members and speakers who traveled across continents to be here in Victoria, as well as our local partners who played a part in bringing these memorable experiences to life.

We can’t wait for you to see what next year has in store, we already have big plans in the works. Head to our Instagram page to see more photos and videos of the Leaders Summit action.