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In the Spotlight: Jack Hughes, Business Council of Canada

Jack Hughes headshot | Photo de profil de Jack HughesIt will be two years since Jack Hughes joined the Business Council of Canada (BCC) as Senior Vice President, Planning and Operations, the latest move in a career continuum that has seen him remain active in government, the law, public relations, and public affairs.

Our Regional Managing Partner in Ottawa, Larry Elliot, not only supervised Jack’s work as an articling student and budding lawyer but stayed in touch with Jack as he went on to work for Hill & Knowlton, a global communications firm, and now the BCC. During the spotlight interview, the two looked back on 20 years of professional excellence.

People first, starting with BLG

By his own admission, Jack Hughes is a proud alum. “BLG continues to have a special place in my heart – I look back on my time there as a very important chapter in my career,” he says.

Jack credits BLG with teaching him the importance of compelling communication, something Larry reinforced as being the key to advocacy. Paying attention to detail, being concise, favouring point-first writing: everything counts.

“Advocacy has been an important part of every job I’ve had, and this is something BLG and its disputes department are best known for, not only across Canada but around the world,” explains Jack.

His time at BLG was also a time of building lasting bonds, learning important lessons in leadership, and working with some of Canada’s best lawyers. “I had the honour and privilege of supporting Guy Pratte on the Mulroney-Schreiber inquiry,” he remembered. “Just consider that during my time at BLG two former prime ministers—from two different political parties—said ‘I want and need the best lawyers’ and they both came to our firm. I mean, it doesn't get better than that.”

Gerry Stobo, Barbara McIsaac, Peter Thompson, as well as the late David Scott, Bruce Carr-Harris, and John O’Toole: Jack Hughes cherishes countless stories featuring his initial role models at BLG. He has tried his best to keep up with this network after leaving the firm and sees great value, both socially and professionally, in doing so. He views BLG events, including the webinars the firm organizes, as crucial to maintaining those connections in a constantly evolving post-pandemic environment.

“The continuing legal education work you do is fantastic. BLG is also putting out some incredibly smart thought leadership emerging issues from privacy and data to AI, cybersecurity, self-driving cars, and related liability,” says Jack. All timely topics for a firm that just turned 200 and is more than ever embracing the future of law.

Thought leadership on a global scale

Nowadays, his work at the Business Council of Canada sends Jack’s neurons firing anew. “The BCC’s membership comprises CEOs from many of the leading and largest companies in Canada. They have their own companies to run, of course, but when they come together to think about the big issues of the day – and what's in our country’s best interests – you get invaluable insights from across Canada, from different sectors, from great leaders.”

In addition to managing the BCC’s day-to-day operations, Jack’s position involves strategic planning and thinking ahead. The BCC routinely engages experts from around the world – leading thinkers in a variety of areas, from science and technology to economics and politics – as a way of informing its CEO members’ strategies.

With an eye to the resilience of Canada's major institutions, Jack can identify three risks that are currently on his radar.

“One is geopolitical risk. Virtually all of our members have global operations, and with everything that's happening in the world geopolitical trends are creating significant public policy risks. Another is technology risk, such as the advent of AI which promises to be transformational for businesses in the near future. And the last one is the demographic risk,” he explains, as generational change creates skills gaps and shifting perspectives which are exerting ever-growing pressure on the corporate world to adapt to faster communications and different professional values.

One last anecdote for the road

On the sidelines of the recent Rebuild Ukraine conference, Jack accompanied the BCC’s CEO, Goldy Hyder, to a private meeting with Ambassador Yulia Kovaliv. The Ambassador was finishing a conversation with a Ukrainian company that had come to Canada to identify B2B partners for a new green tech venture.

Ambassador Kovaliv introduced them by saying the company is working with a Canadian law firm, BLG. Goldy Hyder said, “that’s where Jack’s from,” which elicited a warm smile and handshake. “I was proud to have that connection made. Learning I’d been with BLG was all they needed to know,” says Jack.

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