DEI Advisors Podcast

Mario Hardy, Managing Director, MAP2 Ventures, interviewed by David Kong

December 11, 2023 David Kong
DEI Advisors Podcast
Mario Hardy, Managing Director, MAP2 Ventures, interviewed by David Kong
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Hardy shares his impressive career journey and highlights some factors contributing to his success. We delve into his approach to challenges and lessons learned from his failures. We discuss the importance of risk-taking and the important leadership traits in today’s highly competitive environment. He offers advice on work-life harmony, networking, and personal empowerment.

David Kong:

Greetings. I'm David Kong, the Founder and Principal of DEI Advisors. We're a non profit organization dedicated to self empowerment. Today, we are very happy to welcome Doctor. Mario Hardy. He is the former CEO of the Pacific Asia Tribal Association. And currently, he's involved with several organizations focused on sustainability. Doctor. Hardy, it's a pleasure to welcome you to our show.

Mario Hardy:

Good morning. It's a great pleasure to be here also. Wonderful.

David Kong:

Doctor. Hardy, let's just jump into it. You have a very interesting career journey. I was wondering if you can share some highlights and some of the factors that contributed to your success.

Mario Hardy:

Yeah. I did have a very this. Journey over the last couple decades. And I was born in Canada and started to work for an airline in the US called People Express Airlines who started to fly to Canada and eventually joined Canadian Pacific Airline, which became Canadian International Airlines. And But I guess the most important part of this journey was that I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity from a gentleman named Alastair Patterson who works for Canadian Airlines at the time, who I suppose saw something in me and, offering me an incredible opportunity to join the as part Of the company looking after group sales and looking after charter sales based out of Vancouver. So I moved from Montreal to Vancouver to look after this, to this group. And it's been an incredible journey from there because I've learned so much from this organization. And having done different roles within the airlines over that time. And it was the start of their very long career after that in Kind of airline slash aerospace slash tourism which is where I ended at the Pacific Asia Travel Association. That's

David Kong:

wonderful. You're doing some work on sustainability now. In your opinion, how can the industry improve on sustainability? I

Mario Hardy:

you know, I've been asked this question so many times, and the solutions are all there. They're all available to us. What is lacking is either the finances or the will To make the necessary changes. What the industry needs is it we don't need more reports about what needs to be done. We know what needs to be done. This. We just need to do it. So we need action and tangible and measurable actions that needs to be taken, Such as simple things as well, simple, but, yes, I know they do cost money as implementing of solar panels, renewable energy, Water conservations in hotels and resorts, for example, or reducing food waste in the hotel industry and so on. So as I said, solutions are available. What we need is guidance in terms of how to implement them and how to accelerate the implementation of these solutions so that we can reduce the carbon emissions from the tourism sector generally.

David Kong:

Yeah. Like you said I think just about everyone understands what needs to be done and the importance of it, but we haven't been compelled into action in a big way.

Mario Hardy:

Sell. Yes. Some the motivation. Yeah. Some have been remarkable. I know some hotel properties and other, Airlines also and other stakeholders in the tourism sectors who have done fantastic job of implementing every possible solutions into their business to reduce their carbon emissions. So there are live examples out there of businesses who have succeeded in doing it. What we need is to shout their stories much louder so that others get inspired to do the same. No.

I

David Kong:

agree with you. It is not only good for the environment, it's good for business. It is the right

Mario Hardy:

thing to do. Absolutely. Yeah. There's a great, There's a great return on investment on renewable energy, and the cost has come down so significantly over the recent years that Now it's almost like a no brainer. Yeah.

David Kong:

So true. Now when you were at the Pacific Asia Tribal Association, otherwise known as PADA, SIT. That's a very big and complex organization, lots of stakeholders. How do you manage the diversity and how do you call less the very different ways of thinking about things?

Mario Hardy:

Yeah. That was the likely the greatest challenge of heading such an organization where the diversity of stakeholders is so immense. The Pacific Asia Travel Association this. It's a unique organization where it is both public and private. So you have government members and you also have businesses, Large and small and very small businesses too and across the entire tourism sectors. So meeting the needs of each one of them was certainly a big challenge. But I guess the best thing to do in this instance is to take actions and organized activities that inspires all of them to take action moving forward. So Sustainability and responsible travel was at the center of the organization, and every activities we've organized, We try to demonstrate the success of some businesses or give guidance on how to improve and move forward and in ways that it can, Meet the needs of everyone. Doesn't matter if you're a government or a small or a large business, but each one has to play a part in it. To right?

David Kong:

I've been involved with many diverse organizations, Shins, and it's always difficult to create a vision that's a good fit for everyone and to make sure everyone understands it and also to compel them into action to march on that direction. It's a very difficult thing to do. So kudos to you for having done such a great job at Para. Thank you. Now let's talk about challenges because all of us have faced numerous challenges in our career. And we've not only survived the challenges, but we've in many ways excelled in them. This. I was wondering if you can share some lessons that you've learned and share with us how you generally approach challenges.

Mario Hardy:

To Each situation demands a different response. I think what is really critical is that not to panic. When a challenge is presented to you take your time. Take your time to reflect on it, To think about the different strategies moving forward take a breather as we say, and then and then just Take a little bit of time to think about how you're gonna strategize your new response to that challenge. Some occasions, you do have to respond quite rapidly. That's if, Specifically, when we deal with situations that are affecting climate crisis or climate change such as natural events or human made disasters that affects a certain regions referring specifically in the roles of PATA, for example, where you do have to have some responses initially. But I think it's just taking about thinking about how you're gonna address this challenge, and don't be afraid to consult with colleagues or with experts before you make that decision of what you're gonna do next.

David Kong:

Yeah. Very good advice indeed. Thanks for sharing that. Along with the challenges failures, and some people, in fact, say failures are the mothers of success. Based on your experience, what are some of the lessons that you have learned from failures?

Mario Hardy:

Yeah. I'd say that Early in my career, I was immensely risk averse. aNd, I think that's probably one one thing I regret of not taking much risk. And I know we'll talk about that a bit later. But, essentially, what happened is, When you take the when you're not willing to take the take these risks, it affects your life. It affects how you move forward also. To And essentially through Map2Ventures, we've invested in over thirty businesses globally and some have failed. To but each one there was a lesson in each one of these failures. In each one of these investments that did not work, I've learned something to that process. And hopefully, the businesses who got to that process also learned some lessons Because all of them have restarted and redone to new businesses moving forward. So to You've gotta take this as a way to learn. So the short answer to your questions, be willing to take a risk. You will fail sometime, but take the lessons from these failures and improve in the next, investment or in the next business you're gonna get involved or the next adventures you might get on.

David Kong:

Yeah. Indeed. You mentioned risk taking, which is very difficult for a lot of people. Some people have a high risk profile and some don't. You mentioned that you were risk averse in your earlier days. What are your thoughts on risk taking?

Mario Hardy:

I think you've got to you gotta take some calculated risk as we say. And it all depends on each one of your, individual situations and your ability to tolerate risk in some instances this? As your financial advisers will probably tell you. And but The risk taking is necessary, in my opinion, in order to be able to move forward because you need to learn from these lessons. So I referred to you earlier that I said, I wish I was a little bit less risk averse in my earlier career because I've stayed in certain roles this for an extensive period of time. And in retrospect, that was probably a mistake, to be honest. I should have actually probably taken a leap of faith and move on to either another industry or another business or even within the same organization, put myself out there to move to different roles to gain additional experience much faster. And I look at the younger generations today who are Rarely staying within the same roles or same organization for probably three years, in some cases, probably only two years, and keep moving on from one to another. And I wish I had that courage to be able to do that earlier because I think my career might have been accelerated a bit faster at that stage.

David Kong:

Yeah. So true. Now we live in a very fast changing world, and our business landscape also changes rapidly. What are some of the leadership traits that are important in competing in today's

Mario Hardy:

environment? I think some of the things about leadership is you need to remain agile which is very important, adaptable be able to think fast, and don't be afraid to get out there to, be the first at trying something. Be willing to take these risks as we've mentioned earlier, I think is critical. And but the agility and adaptability is probably critical at this moment more than ever because industries are moving at such a fast pace. Technology is moving at a phenomenal pace, and it's really hard to keep track from time to time. And so remaining agile and adaptable is critical. And, also, jobs and careers are changing much faster than it were before. Now even if I was in my earlier days and did not wanted to take that risk to move in today's environment, I'd be forced to do so Because of the technology key technological changes and AI and others that are actually proving that the world is different. Just think about a couple years ago when we were talking about working remotely and people said, working remotely, really? But today, it's common. People are demanding to work remotely to these days. And in a space of four or five years, our world has changed completely due to various events that happened such as, the pandemic and etcetera.

David Kong:

Yeah. Now you mentioned agility and adaptability as important leadership traits today's fast changing environment. whAt about continuous learning?

Mario Hardy:

I think it's important to stay current. Read a lot. Stay current with, current trends, what's happening around in the world. In your field, but also in other sectors, don't narrow your view only to the industry you're working on By learning about what other sectors are doing also, how they're moving, how they're trending, you can adapt and take some of the knowledge From these sectors and bringing it into yours and then accelerate the pace of change within your own environment take courses. Believe it or not, I still take course university courses today because I'm always curious. I want to learn more. So Cultivate that that feeling of curiosity is really important in anybody at any age. Doesn't matter if you're young or if you're retired or That curiosity needs to be there in order for you to continuously grow and fill in the knowledge gap. If you know you're weak in certain areas, but you need this for your work or your future work, try to fill in the gap. Network with people who can help you to get that knowledge also. Reading and taking courses, this. Obviously, it's great and it's important. But also having that ability to discuss openly with people who had the knowledge you don't gives you a completely different perspective. And so I think it's a mix and match of these different ways of learning That enables you to grow over time.

David Kong:

That's right. There's so many ways that we can learn. And I love that you're still taking university courses.

Mario Hardy:

Yes. Challenging when you have exams to do and and essays to do, which is a bit stressful.

David Kong:

For any company or even for individuals to be successful, we need to continuously innovate and differentiate ourselves. And when you are in a leadership role, you've got to think about cultivating a culture of innovation. So how do you do that? How have you done that in your career?

Mario Hardy:

Yeah. I think it's really important that within, if you're in a leadership position, More so than any other is to cultivate that feeling of trust within the with within your organization and with the people you work. To The trust that it's okay to fail. Give permission to your staff, to the people you're working with, to fail and try new things and try as many times as they can until they get it right. And Unless you're able to give that permission, it's really difficult for people to who may not be willing to take that risk To go and try something new. And so to me, that was the key thing in every organization I worked with over the last couple decades In leadership roles is ensuring on day one, when I joined the organization, I met with my teams to let them know that it was okay to fail, to give them that permission and welcome new ideas. That's

David Kong:

so good. I really like this keyword trust because that gives people permission to take risk and not be afraid to fail. That's really

Mario Hardy:

good. Thanks for sharing that. I worked in one organization in the past where the culture of trust wasn't there. And it was really challenging at the beginning to get people to think differently. And, every time there was a situation or an opportunity, They would come to me for a decision. And I kept telling them, I said, no. You know the answer. And I kept pushing them. I said, You go back to your desk. And when you're ready to share what that the solution is, you come back and see me again. I knew what needed to be done, But that wasn't the issue. The issue is I wanted them to think about it themselves and come up with the ideas. And, it's a this. It was a question of repeating this over an extensive period of time until the point where people realized that it was okay. It was okay to come up with different ideas. And most of the time, they were actually even better than what I thought. They just needed to be adapted a little bit But, essentially, it was mostly good. But it they needed to know that it was okay for them to try something new, and it was okay for them if they actually failed in one of them.

David Kong:

That's really wonderful to hear how you empower your team. Mhmm. That's great. That's wonderful. Now you've worked with a lot of different people and you've obviously learned from them. What are some of the best leadership lessons that you've learned?

Mario Hardy:

I think when I've been fortunate to have had some great mentors over the years and, In every organization that I work with. And I think most of them gave me that sense of, the importance of remaining focus, the importance of having very clear objectives and goals and sticking to them. And then In order to achieve these goals, sometime you have to be the one who removes the roadblocks, who removes the obstacles from the people who you work with in order for them to achieve their own goals and their objectives at the end of the day. And so to me, I've always been, remain very focused. If I take an initiative and I do a project, I know where we need To be at the end or we've discussed it as a group and we've agreed where we want to be is to ensure that we always keep in this in mind. And I say this because in most jobs that I had, you constantly have distractions, unexpected things that happens that comes on each side, left and right and center. And then you're gonna think sometime quickly and say, No. I'm I'm focusing on this because this is where we need to be. So it's a great idea. Let's park it here, and we'll come back to it when we've accomplished our initial goal. And that's the, I think, the most important thing. Also working with young start ups It's often quite the challenge. You work with young minds that are brilliant and have got so many ideas, but they lose track. They lose focus. They start moving in this direction, and say, no. Bring you need to bring it back into the center because that's where we need to be. You can create these new initiatives and products once we deliver the first one we were meant to be delivering. That's to me is the biggest lessons I've learned from the mentors and the people I've worked with in the past is make sure you remain entirely focused on your goals and your objectives. Make sure they're clear that everyone understand what they are also and why you're doing what you're doing. I often find that in leadership roles, leaders often will say that's where we need to be, which is a good start. But I don't explain the road map as to how you're gonna get there and why we're doing certain things and not others, for example. And then it leads other people to go and think about, oh, he must have other, intentions or You have to be clear and don't be afraid of sharing With the people you work with, when things are not doing well. And when things are doing well, celebrate. That's the key to me. And I'd say that these are all the lessons I've learned over the years with the many great people I've worked with.

David Kong:

Quite a few important lessons in there. Having clear goals and giving people the reasons why, I always say why is a really important question to answer because it gives purpose to what people do. And everyone needs a purpose. You're just going through the motion like a robot. Yeah. Very well said. Thank you. Now, Doctor. Hardy, you've always had a very demanding work life. This? And how do you balance that with your personal

Mario Hardy:

life? I that's one area where I've done terribly Bad. I Did not have a really healthy work life balance, to be honest. Work was priority number one and have been for my entire career. And, highly focused. And when I put myself towards something, I'm determined to actually make it a success and focus on that. And this? I'm the type of person who would answer emails within minutes and it doesn't matter which time of the day. But I've always said to the teams and the people I work with, I said, listen, I'm a work alcoholic. I work all the time. I said, I don't expect you to be the same thing. If I send you an email at midnight or a text message at midnight or two in the morning, I don't expect you to answer. I'm sending it because it's in my mind, and I need to get it out. I said you can answer at a reasonable time. If it's really that urgent, I will find another means to communicate with you. But, ninety nine percent of the time, it isn't. It's just because the way it was working. Now the nice thing about Today's email systems and other communication channels is now you have this function of send later. Yes. You can write your you can write your thoughts, And then make sure you send them at some to somebody at eight or nine o'clock in the morning, which is a more reasonable time. Yeah. And so to answer your questions, I didn't have a really healthy work environment. But work, Life balance, as you said, because I'm really focused on this. But, um, I think, it's it is important to achieve this work balance. Not because I didn't have it doesn't mean that you shouldn't. I think it's really important for p o p people to find a way to, break off from work from time to time. So the one thing that did not compromise is holidays. Holidays are sacred for me. They were with my family, with my children. And when I left and all, they I asked people not to disturb me. I said unless it's an absolute emergency and you can't resolve it between yourself, um, I said do call. But I said, otherwise, I don't that's the only part. Holidays are for me and my family only. But I think, as I said, I think it is important for people to find that work balance work life balance better than I did. So for their own health and for their family and also, making sure that you've got you enjoy life a bit more. It's not all only about work.

David Kong:

I'm very happy to hear you say all that because so many people worry about what their bosses think of them. This. And if they send you an email at eleven PM, you feel very compelled to respond to that regardless what he know what he or she had told you. Yeah. So it's great

Mario Hardy:

to I'm not saying that everybody operates that way, to be honest. But certainly from my part, I made it clear because I know that's how I work. People the employees that worked with me before Quite often says it's incredible how quickly you respond to, emails and stuff and any given time of day and night. And I kept repeating the message. It's just the way I am. I said, but I don't expect you to be that way.

David Kong:

That's great that you say that because it's important to let the staff know that work life harmony is important. You pay attention to that, and you consider it, and you're sensitive to that. That's wonderful. Now we've all learned a lot in our careers. And looking back, when you were twenty years old, you wish you had known what?

Mario Hardy:

What I know today. Yeah. Yeah. I it's, to Your life would be so much different if I've known everything I know today when I was younger. And I'm gonna go back to what I repeated several times earlier about this importance of willingness to Take some risk earlier in your career to know when it's the time to move on also which is, important within your to your roles. And then always keep in mind, what is your end game? So the same way that when you have a business organization you work with and you're putting your strategy in your business plan. Try to think of a if you're young today, Try to think of your own business plan and your strategy. So your business plan is where do you want to end up in your career? What do you want to achieve in your career? And start putting and put it in writing so it's easier for you to go back and refer to it as to So if your end goal is to become the CEO of large corporations or the secretary general of to of a an international organization. If that's what your end goal is, then Try start mapping your road map as to how you're gonna get there and what you need to do and learn in order for you to get to that position. You can even put a time frame. So I want to achieve this within the next period. Or If it's not about a position, it might be something else that you want to achieve in your career. You want to be able to make an impact on the world. You want to join an organization where you're gonna make a significant difference to the life of millions of people. That could be your goal. And again, how are you gonna get there at the end of the day? And then my suggestions to a younger Me would have been to do that road map, which I didn't. Anything happened in my life to, Either coincidence or just meeting people at the right time with the right opportune the right approach is presenting itself. But if I had mapped what my journey, it would have been maybe different. It doesn't mean that sometime You can write your journey to be in that direction and something else will happen and will diverge a little bit. So you gotta refocus and say, is that really what you wanna do? Or you go into a different tangent and take something different. I, when I grew up and I and Somebody would have told me that one day a BDC over an international organization, they'd say, hey. I would have laughed. I said, hey. Really? That's what it can happen. It will never happen. Or that I've done so many of the things I've done over the recent years that It was not part of what I was thinking when I was younger. I actually did not even ended up working in an industry that I was studying that I studied in. So this? Life throws things different things at you from time to time and different challenges. So again, Going back to what I always said at the beginning, remain agile and adaptable. So have a goal, have you know, write it down, But remain agile and adaptable because sometimes things might shift a little bit.

David Kong:

Yeah. I find it to be very helpful to have goals. And I like what you said about writing it down because I've written down my goals. I put in my drawer. I look at it every now and then. And somehow, mysteriously, they become true.

Mario Hardy:

And so it's really important to have goals. I read an article, and I can't remember where it was long time ago, maybe fifteen, twenty years ago. And In that article, they were saying that, it's important try to do try something different every thirty days. Try something you would have never tried or would never think of doing before every thirty days, one. Could be multiple, but one one thing which is different. And you know what? I've been practicing this for over twenty years. iNitially, the first few years, it was Con no. Conscious. I was making an effort every month to go and try something different. Now it's became habit without consciousness without realizing, I would go and try something different. And it helps you To be able to remain that agile and that adapt adaptability is actually critical because you're now actually thinking about, Let's go and try something to tune up. I'm fixing an old classic car at the moment. I'm not a mechanic. Don't really know anything about it, but I go and read about it. I watch YouTube videos, and I learn about how to build engines and things like this. Because I can, but also because I want to learn something different. And, we've built a completely sustainability, sustainable home here. But, again, I had to learn about the different technologies that are available there to make my house as most sustainable possible. Again, just trying to learn something different constantly. That's very good advice.

David Kong:

Learn something different. Do something different. That's a key to innovation. That's really well said. Now we're coming to the end of the show. I feel like I can talk to you the whole day, doctor Howdy. Let's have one more piece of advice from you on self empowerment.

Mario Hardy:

Be curious and never stop learning. I think those are the two critical thing. And again, I will put emphasis on this again. Don't limit yourself to the field you're working on. Go and explore other sectors and other industries and other things that have actually nothing to do with your work, Because you realize from time to time that there are elements of this that you can bring it into your work. And I'll give you an example here. Several years ago, I was very fortunate to attend the Singularity University, this executive program in Palo Alto. And I signed up for the program and and today, it's a little bit easier. But this. Years ago, there was a long waiting list, sometime years of waiting list before you can sign up to you can register for this program. And then I went in with the intention of wanting to learn what were the future technologies so that it would help me with my future investment to invest in technologies that are not gonna deliver necessarily solutions today, but maybe in ten or twenty years from now. And but I came out of this program with a million ideas in my mind on how I can actually apply what I've learned in that class Into my day job at the Pacific Asia Tribal Association. And it transformed, uh, the organization and the way I was working because I was taking what I've learned and sharing with my teams, and they were applying it also to different activities we were doing. And so It's one one example out of many that you go into out of your way to learn something which has nothing to do with your work, But then you bring elements to it into it and it makes it different, and new and innovative and creative. And but also it's important that you take this and share it. Don't keep it for yourself. Share it with the people you work with So they can also learn what you've learned and take elements of it and transform their work, and it eventually benefits the entire organization and the goals that you had.

David Kong:

So true. Thanks for sharing that. Regrettably, we're coming to the end of the show. I wanna thank you again, Doctor. Hardy, for taking the time to share your wisdom. Your comments are indeed insightful and most beneficial. Thank you very much. And to our audience that have tuned in, we appreciate your time, and it's wonderful that you're doing something to enrich yourself. And if you like the show, we hope you visit us on our website, beiadvisors dot org. There are plenty of