2020 in hindsight: An interview with Navigator Executive Chairman Jaime Watt

Watch the full recorded broadcast above.

2020 was anything but smooth sailing. Attempting to chart a course through the choppy waters of a global pandemic, as well as social upheaval, economic uncertainty, and political division has been extraordinarily difficult for both businesses and individuals alike. 

On Thursday, December 17, we were joined by Jaime Watt, Executive Chairman, Navigator, for an introspective look back on 2020. In this one-on-one discussion, The Ivey Academy’s Mark Healy, MBA ’05, solicited Jaime’s views on the most turbulent, complex, and utterly weird year in recent memory. While the end of this strange and sometimes shocking year may be a relief to some, its impact will linger for many years to come. Jaime provided insights into what we can expect in the future as a result of the tectonic shifts experienced over the past 12 months.

Key webinar content

Core topics

  • Reflecting on the major events of 2020
  • The denigration of faith and trust in political institutions
  • Corporate purpose and the challenge of establishing trust
  • How will 2020 be remembered?
  • The health risks – both physical and mental – and economic risks induced by COVID-19
  • Important stories that didn’t get as much attention as they would have in a normal year
  • A view on economic recovery
  • Balancing the need for caution with an urgency to produce a vaccine
  • Equity issues related to vaccine distribution
  • Nationalism, protectionism, and integrated supply chains
  • The impetus behind the establishment of the Canadian Centre for the Purpose of the Corporation
  • Corporate purpose vs. returning shareholder value
  • Who benefits from corporate purpose?
  • An outlook for 2021
  • Canada’s relationship with the United States

Memorable quotes

“Our research shows that (Canadians) are overwhelmingly concerned with societal issues of fairness and sustainability and they consistently demand that the private sector steps up in these areas.” – Jaime Watt

“COVID-19 exposed precarity and inequality, but these are issues that have been going on for a long time … I think what we’re seeing now is these issues coming together like spaghetti – they’re all going to be intertwined. I think we’ll see this year as a tipping point which kicked a lot of these things that have been moving at a tectonic pace. It will be a year that we have seen that change in a fundamental way.” – Jaime Watt

“I think the truth is – and nobody wants to say the truth – is that (the economic recovery) will take the better part of a year.” – Jaime Watt

“I do think that’s the message of hope that we take at this time of year. As we look into 2021, we have been remarkably resilient. Who would have thought that we could have shut down an economy? Who would have thought that we would have gone home? People said that the government locked us up. The government didn’t lock us up – we chose to stay home. And we chose to stay home because it was something we were willing to do, not for ourselves, but for our community. There was a lot of goodness that came out of the last year – it was hard to see if you were a part of the carnage – but there was a lot of good that came out of it. Of that good was a resiliency and a spirit of generosity that I think makes us Canadians. As Canadians we’re in pretty good shape as we enter 2021.” – Jaime Watt

Additional reading

Canadians Want Capitalism Reformed and Demand that Businesses Step Up on Fairness and Sustainability, the Canadian Centre for the Purpose of the Corporation (CCPC) in partnership with Navigator Ltd.
2020 In Review Fast Facts, CNN Editorial Research
COVID-19 is increasing multiple kinds of inequality. Here’s what we can do about it, World Economic Forum
The 10 most important things I’ve learned about trust over my 100 years, Washington Post


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About The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School
The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School is the home for executive Learning and Development (L&D) in Canada. It is Canada’s only full-service L&D house, blending Financial Times top-ranked university-based executive education with talent assessment, instructional design and strategy, and behaviour change sustainment. 

Rooted in Ivey Business School’s real-world leadership approach, The Ivey Academy is a place where professionals come to get better, to break old habits and establish new ones, to practice, to change, to obtain coaching and support, and to join a powerful peer network. Follow The Ivey Academy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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