Eight company- and shareholder-elected members make up the Calian Group Ltd. Board of Directors. The board contributes to the strategy and governance of Calian. This “Meet the Board Blog Series” profiles each board member.
Name: Ronald Richardson
Titles: Corporate Director and Member of the Board of Directors, Calian Group Ltd.
Year Joined the Board: February 2021
Ronald Richardson Linkedin Profile
Q: Tell us a bit about your career history, Ronald.
RR: I am a lifelong learner, passionate about advancing our world, and my career path reflects this: it has been technology-focused and non-traditional. After graduating from the University of Waterloo in 2007 with a Bachelor of Software Engineering, Honours Co-op, with Distinction, I held positions with various companies including Barclays Capital (strategic modelling and rates trading), Intel (design engineering), Husky Injection Molding Systems (production systems engineering) and SlipStream Data (software architecture). These roles gave me a solid foundation in software, engineering and technology.
I then decided to venture out on my own. I co-founded Benbria Corporation with investor partners that included Wesley Clover, Verizon Ventures, BDC and IAF/MaRS. Our first product was an emergency notification software system, and we subsequently brought to market both a hardware product and software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. We sold to Fortune 1000 companies and drove millions in revenue. I learned all about sales, team leadership and finding product-market-fit—all critical business skills. I worked very hard, travelled a lot and enjoyed it thoroughly!
In 2016, while still playing an active role at Benbria, I began my journey as a private investor through the Capital Angel Network, the largest group of angel investors in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Today I support a private fund of more than 50 founding teams and their companies, some of which I am involved with as a board member or in an advisory capacity. In parallel, I obtained my DEP certification as a corporate director with the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D). I find it very rewarding to be at the forefront, working with leadership of growth companies.
In a nutshell, I am a corporate director and private investor, holding professional, governance and investment positions in the technology, energy, space and not-for-profit sectors.
Q: What is the single highlight of your career thus far?
RR: I have accomplished so many interesting things in my career, it is difficult to select just one. If I had to pick, it would be the BlazeCast Emergency Notification product that I had a major hand in developing and bringing to market. It is a software platform used to communicate during crisis situations and active threats. Its objective is to keep campuses, students and organizations safe. We sold it to universities and businesses across Canada and around the world. The technology was used to inform and create situational awareness for thousands of people during crisis situations, ultimately avoiding them further harm. When you take a step back and think about it, you realize that this product is very meaningful and impactful. It has saved people’s lives. I am very proud of my role in its successful deployment. Ironically, it is very aligned to what Calian does: help the world communicate, innovate, learn and lead safe and healthy lives!
Q: What led you to join the Calian board?
RR: I joined the board for a combination of reasons. I am well-networked here in Ottawa and very open to new opportunities to learn, grow and contribute. When I was approached by Calian it seemed a natural fit. First, I have accumulated a lot of board experience over the years and could provide a fresh perspective, given my relatively young age. The Calian team also valued my strong technology background as it spans embedded firmware and driver design at Intel, financial trading models at Barclays Capital and growth-technology business leadership at a B2B enterprise SaaS company. Finally, Calian’s corporate culture, prudent management style and capital allocation strategy is very similar to how my family business at James Richardson & Sons, Limited has been run for more than six generations. And that speaks volumes to me.
Q: What is your greatest contribution to the Calian board?
RR: I have not been on the Calian board for a long time, however, I believe I have already made valuable contributions, not only through shared insights from my technology experience but also on other pertinent issues. For example, last year I proposed a seemingly small but meaningful change to our employee incentive plan that made it more favorable to employees and better aligned with shareholders’ interests. My suggestion was to reward team performance in all above-average outcomes, not just some. It was a minor adjustment to what was already proposed but little things can make a big difference. It was nice to see the board and management accept and action this recommendation. It just goes to show how small actions can have a meaningful impact for employees.
Q: If you were chatting with a new investor, what is the #1 thing you would tell them about Calian?
RR: Calian is an exciting company. It is increasingly relevant on the world stage and is a continuing Canadian success story. First, its areas of business are exciting, including space and satellite systems, the energy transition, autonomous vehicles, NATO, AR/VR, cyber security and health, all of which are critical and in a time of growing need. Second, the ambition to become a billion-dollar company through proven organic and M&A growth strategies is exciting. And third, perhaps most importantly against other growth-tech investments, Calian makes money! Exceptional people, a best-in-class management team, a solid strategy and a track record of success, all driving profitable growth—can I say exciting one more time? It is a pleasure for me to be involved and I am very excited for the future of Calian.
Have you read the previous articles published in this blog series?
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