Todd Hirsch

Todd Hirsch

Chief Economist, ATB Financial

As Vice President and Chief Economist for ATB Financial, Todd Hirsch spends much of his time delivering dynamic, clear-eyed talks on topics ranging from the economy and creativity, to adaptability and the future of work. For more than 25 years, he has worked as an economist for organizations including the Canada West Foundation and the Bank of Canada.

Hirsch has been recognized as one of Alberta’s most influential people. He’s received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the University of Alberta’s Alumni Honour Award, and an honorary degree from Mount Royal University. He previously taught economics at the University of Calgary and for the Executive Education program at the University of Alberta.

Hirsch is the author of four books. His latest, Spiders in COVID Space: Adapting During and After the Pandemic, was released in March 2021. The book captures the inspiring and compelling stories of businesses and not-for-profits that reinvented themselves during the pandemic.

A strong advocate of the arts and culture, Hirsch serves on the boards of Calgary’s Glenbow Museum and the Alberta Ballet. He is also an advisor to the Dean of the Chiu School of Business at Bow Valley College in Calgary.

Hirsch is also the host of a podcast titled The Future Of. In each episode, he and a guest explore what the future might look like for work, communities, art and culture, leadership, and other compelling topics. Now in its second season, the podcast won a national award in 2021.


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?

COVID-19 and the Economy: What We Can Expect in 2020 and Beyond

There’s been no shortage of commentary and information about the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus is on the health crisis. Yet, just beyond that, an economic crisis is also unfolding. The impact will be significant for businesses, industries, not-for-profits, and individuals in the coming months and years.

The challenge for all of us is the rapid pace at which events are changing. Daily, and sometimes hourly, information shifts and as soon as a forecast is made, it almost immediately becomes outdated.

Drawing on up-to-the-minute information, Todd Hirsch shares insight into our current situation — what we know and don’t know, bright spots in an otherwise bleak time, etc. — to help demystify the economic impact of this crisis and provide some clarity around what we can expect.

This virtual presentation runs between 20-40 minutes with Q&A. Length can be customized depending on client’s needs.