Todd Hirsch

Speaker


Todd Hirsch

Chief Economist, ATB Financial

For more than 20 years, Todd Hirsch has been a sought-after economist working for renowned institutions including the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canada West Foundation, and the Bank of Canada. As the Vice President and Chief Economist for ATB Financial, a financial institution that serves 600,000+ clients, he has delivered dynamic, clear-eyed talks on the economy, creativity, and the future of work to organizations across Canada.

Todd is a frequent contributor to many Canadian and global media outlets including CBC, CTV, the Globe and Mail, and the BBC and is the author of three books — Spiders in Space: Successfully Adapting to Unwanted Change, The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline, and Halfway Home: Fifty Years in Fifty Chapters. He previously taught economics at the University of Calgary and is currently a sessional instructor for the Executive Education program at the Alberta School of Business.

Named one of Alberta’s most influential people, Todd recently received the University of Alberta’s Alumni Honour award and an honorary degree from Mount Royal University. Todd has a BA Honours in economics from the University of Alberta and an MA in economics from the University of Calgary.


Canadian and Regional Economies

Keeping up with the global, U.S. and national economies is Todd’s primary function as Chief Economist. Relating the information to audiences in a way that is relatable, valuable, and often humorous is Todd’s expertise.

What are the trends in the global and national economies? What is the future of industries that drive the Canadian and local economies? Where do opportunities lie, and where also do the pitfalls lurk?

Todd relies on images, storytelling, and metaphor to deliver refreshing economic presentations. His PowerPoints are void of charts, graphs, and endless text. Being able to speak about the economy without using the typically dull data and graphs, Todd connects with audiences in ways most economists cannot.

Spiders in Space: Successfully Adapting to Unwanted Change

From small disappointments to heartbreaking tragedies, unwanted change blindsides us and leaves us wondering what to do next. It might be new neighbours constantly blasting loud music late at night; it might be a technological breakthrough that leaves your business in its dust; it might be a heart attack that nearly kills you. Whatever form it takes, unwanted change requires us to adapt to a harsher environment. Like the spiders sent into space by NASA that found ways to spin their webs without the aid of gravity, we have to find ways to overcome the pitfalls that life places in our path.

Drawing on inspiring stories of individuals, organizations, and businesses, Todd speaks to a selection of adaptive traits that can help us not only survive, but thrive, when unwanted change comes our way.

Creativity, Risk-Taking and Embracing Failure

In Todd’s first book, The Boiling Frog Dilemma, he argues that Canada in the 21st century is at risk of falling behind internationally. We need to “up our game” in terms of creativity, innovation, risk taking, entrepreneurialism, cosmopolitanism, community, and re-thinking environmental stewardship — or risk becoming economically irrelevant on the global stage.

Rather than a prescriptive policy book (i.e., what do governments need to do), Todd recommends a series of actions that Canadians need to do for themselves if we are to continue as a prosperous nation in the future. What are the bad habits we need to drop? And what more positive habits and attitudes do we need to embrace?