CPP Investments tenure:
I joined CPP Investments in 2014 and spent four years as an Associate in the Quantitative Equity Team out of the Toronto office.
Founding the CPP Investments Blockchain Group with Victor Li from Total Portfolio Management. Over time, it was incredible to see the group evolve from two of us in a boardroom to more than 100 people showing up to discuss blockchain and its relevance for investors. I interacted with people across the organization I would have never met otherwise.
Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer/Architect at the Toronto-based startup Grain Discovery, an online trading platform for physical agricultural commodities that interfaces with a blockchain-based traceability system to allow for farm-to-fork tracking. Advances in technology and digitization of the supply chain will allow for the ‘de-commoditization’ of agriculture, with crops grown to cater for consumer demands for traceability, sustainability and transparency commanding a marketplace premium. Our big idea is that changes in consumer attitudes will drive massive transformations over the coming decades in how the agricultural industry functions worldwide.
It’s all in the family:
My CPP Investments tenure kickstarted Grain Discovery because its where I met my co-founders, Rory O’Sullivan and Peter Vincent. Rory worked in agriculture commodities, and Peter in energy trading. With our combined backgrounds and understanding of the need for tech adoption in agriculture, we were able to recognize an industry-disrupting opportunity.
Little-known food fact:
How incredibly opaque the food supply chain is. Chances are nobody knows exactly where the food on your dinner plate tonight came from! As a case in point: a few years ago, when there was a contamination in the romaine lettuce supply chain, it made more economic sense to destroy all the romaine lettuce in North America then try to trace the problem.
Can’t stop reading about:
I’ve recently been reading Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To; possibly a disturbing book for a pension plan. The Social Conquest of Earth has also influenced my thinking a lot in recent years, along with Principles.
People aren’t paying enough attention to:
Decentralized Finance. People are working on reimagining finance from scratch on blockchain. Smart contracts covering much of the functionality of a bank already exist. You can borrow, loan out money, or get paid interest without the need for a third-party intermediary. The VC world has only just started to pay attention.
Finish closing our fundraiser. We are happy to say that some very famous and accomplished people have invested to date. I want to continue to explore angel investing opportunities at the frontier of science and technology. I also want to reconnect with old colleagues.
Favourite Guiding Principle and why:
Integrity: it’s the cornerstone of any lasting success. Without integrity, you won’t inspire partnership and high performance won’t last by itself.