Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views about the leadership and management issues. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

It's a question that comes up a lot: How can a company be, or claim to be, a Canadian leader when it's owned by a foreign corporation? In the beer business, it affects how people perceive our products, how they assess our views on public policy, what they believe to be our motives, and even how some of them wish to see us treated by government and regulatory authorities.

In my experience, when leveraged effectively, foreign ownership can be downright positive.

Story continues below advertisement

I am reminded of an article that I read that reflected on the early 1990s, when the United States was facing an influx of foreign manufacturers in the auto industry. Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor, Rhodes Scholar, and professor at Harvard and Berkeley, published an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled "Who Is Us?" Mr. Reich concluded that: "But today, the competitiveness of American-owned corporations is no longer the same as American competitiveness. Indeed, American ownership of the corporation is profoundly less relevant to America's economic future than the skills, training, and knowledge commanded by American workers – workers who are increasingly employed within the United States by foreign-owned corporations."

For the sake of argument, let's apply Mr. Reich's position to Canada today. It would read something like this: "Canadian ownership of the corporation is profoundly less relevant to Canada's economic future than the skills, training and knowledge commanded by Canadian workers. So, who is us? The answer is the Canadian work force, the Canadian people, but not particularly the Canadian corporation."

At Labatt, it has been nearly two decades since we were acquired by Belgian-based international brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev. While we know that our roots are Canadian (in London, Ont., to be exact), my colleagues and I have concluded that being part of a global enterprise has allowed us to continue to be leaders, not only in brewing in Canada, but in product and marketing innovation as well as in corporate responsibility. The lesson here is that skills, knowledge and lessons don't have passports or nationalities, and that we should look far and wide for new ways to improve everything we do and how we do it.

Our parent firm Anheuser-Busch InBev knows how to succeed in local markets – let local managers and brands do what they know best, and share product and production innovations and improvements that have been proven elsewhere.

In annual events, employees from Labatt and our sister companies around the world gather to share, compare and compete with our best ideas on how to improve efficiency, reduce water and energy consumption, promote moderation, give back to the communities where we do business, and motivate and reward our employees.

I'm proud of the leadership Labatt has demonstrated in winning many of these internal competitions, but I feel the greatest value we take home each year comes from the insight we gain from other members of the family. Certainly in our industry, and in others, success requires a combination of global expertise and local knowledge. AB InBev knows that it's good business for Labatt to stay Canadian because we know our home market intimately. We have to demonstrate that we can adapt global lessons into Canadian advantages.

The reality is that Labatt has and always will be a Canadian company and a Canadian success story. Being Canadian comes from within. Our beer is made with Canadian raw materials by Canadian employees who belong to Canadian unions (some unionized since 1907) and work in breweries in six Canadian cities. Virtually all our revenue is from Canada, we pay above-average wages and salaries, we invest hundreds of millions of dollars into our facilities and communities, and we contribute more than $1-billion every year to Canadian tax coffers.

Story continues below advertisement

We've learned that to be a good corporate leader, it is essential to embrace opportunities to improve wherever they exist, whether that be in Canada or on the other side of the world. In many ways, our story is that of a one-man, small-town Ontario dream evolving into a national icon thanks to an ever widening learning aperture that progressed from local to provincial to national perspectives and finally, to a welcoming global view of the opportunities and lessons that the world offers. It's a lesson and an approach that Canadian companies, from startups to established firms, would benefit from experiencing.

Charlie Angelakos (@c_angelakos) is vice-president of corporate affairs for Labatt Breweries of Canada.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies