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Globe and Mail Events Content

Event summary produced by The Globe and Mail Events team. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

Through the turbulence of the pandemic business and academic leaders are looking for opportunities to rethink traditional approaches in light of new realities. The Globe and Mail hosted a webcast on November 10 to bring executives from a variety of sectors together to discuss strategies to adapt and come back stronger.

The webcast featured Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail; Humera Malik, founder and CEO of Canvass Analytics; Neil Fassina, president of Athabasca University; and Randy Ambrosie, commissioner of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

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Watch the full panel discussion below. Highlights from the conversation appear below the recording.

Below are a few takeaways from the discussion:

1). Retail will never be the same

Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail, a company focused on enhancing consumers’ in-store experiences, said bricks-and-mortar shopping will look different in the post-pandemic era. Consumer interest in e-commerce will remain so retailers have an opportunity to bridge the divide between digital and physical shopping. For example, a customer might call a store associate to browse virtually. When in-person retail returns it will be more experiential, Mr. Asaria said, adding there are numerous ways retailers can create immersive and intentional shopping experiences when malls reopen.

2). Pathways to learning are changing

The pandemic has created an opportunity for postsecondary institutions to expand digital learning and be more purposeful about how they deliver education, said Neil Fassina, president of Athabasca University. We shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity by falling back into traditional, fully place-based curricula when the pandemic recedes, he added. The digital era provides a backdrop for the ‘infinite classroom’, allowing individuals to access education from anywhere, at any time, across both physical and digital platforms, Mr. Fassina said.

3). Creativity can maintain connections

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Live sports were put on hold in the spring due to physical distancing requirements so organizations such as the Canadian Football League (CFL) have gotten creative to stay connected to fans. Randy Ambrosie, commissioner of the CFL said the league has started larger, virtual town halls with fans and coaches. A social media campaign invited fans to assess what kind of coach they would be. The league is using the pause to reset traditional approaches and design new experiences for fans when live sports return – focusing on venues as gathering places for families and friends, and bringing new and diverse fans into the sport, Mr. Ambrosie said.

4). Digital transformation is now an executive priority

Humera Malik, founder and CEO of Canvass Analytics, a software company using artificial intelligence for business analytics, said the pandemic has made digital strategy a corporate imperative. Business leaders must prioritize agility and focus on equipping their workforces to use digital tools such as online collaboration, virtual whiteboarding and video meetings. Digital fatigue will become more of an issue for employees as they continue to work virtually and the lines between home and work blur, Ms. Humera said, adding employers will need to pay more attention to work-life balance.

Watch the full video above.

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