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 the podcast The Future Of, where 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, US, and national economies is Todd Hirsch’s primary function as Chief Economist at ATB Financial. Relating the information to audiences in a way that is relatable, valuable, and often humorous is Hirsch’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 pitfalls lurk?

Hirsch relies on images, storytelling, and metaphor to deliver refreshing economic presentations and avoids endless charts, graphs, and text. Being able to speak about the economy without using the typically dull data and graphs, Hirsch 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 Hirsch 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 Hirsch’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 Hirsch 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?

From Re-Opening to Re-Building: Canada’s Post-COVID Economy

It will be a year and a half that none of us will forget. As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease and Canadian businesses start to re-open, it is an ideal time to take stock of our economy. For some, re-opening will be fairly straightforward. Yet, for many companies, re-opening will be hampered with labour shortages and weak consumer demand.

For most of the Canadian economy, re-opening is the easy part. Re-building will take more intent and imagination. What can we do better in a post-COVID world? How can we use this crisis to address labour market inequities? And how will the pandemic permanently affect our notions of work?

In this presentation, Todd Hirsch explores the pitfalls and the possibilities of Canada’s post-COVID economy, and will challenge us to not just re-open, but to re-build.