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Lessons In Leadership: Interview with CEO Global Network Member Pino Di Ioia, Owner & CEO, BeaverTails Canada Inc.

June 26th, 2017

Founded in 1978; BeaverTails operates through its franchise and food service partners in over 100 locations across North America as well as in Korea, Japan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. An iconic Canadian premium brand based in Montreal; BeaverTails’ offerings include frozen treats, poutine, signature beverages, Beaver Bites and Beaver Dogs in addition to their classic BeaverTails pastry.

What is one characteristic that you think every leader should possess?

VISION. Leaders bring their team to a more valuable level and a clear vision describes that level.

What is the one biggest mistake you think a leader can make?

Not delegating enough or delegating tasks as opposed to vision. I believe leaders should teach their team to fish and then let team members gather the fish.

What are the core values of BeaverTails? How do you ensure your franchising and licensing partners reflect these values within their operations?

Our core value as a brand is indulgence. We buck the health trend and unapologetically offer guests a chance to treat themselves. As a team our core value is fierceness. We built an acronym that calls on our team members to be:

Fierce – have an energetic and passionate energy to get things done
Intentional – use systems and processes to organize work systematically
Expedient – go about work in a practical organized, and systemized way
Resourceful – finish the job in an efficient and simple way
Common sense – use a logical approach to solve goals
Educated – think critically and complete complex tasks

Are there any unique challenges to running a successful family business?

We have been a family business for a long time and generally focus on mutual respect. Of course there are challenges, but we let each other concentrate on what we each do best. It helps enormously that we have diverse interests (accounting, marketing, and development).

What was your greatest challenge in transitioning from a successful franchisee to CEO of BeaverTails?

For me the transition was easy because I tend to focus on the big picture and vision, whereas franchisees are more tacticians who are/should be execution oriented. If anything, I may have been too empathetic, recalling as franchisor the challenges I had as an operator. Although this was helpful at times; ultimately the franchisor is called on to make difficult decisions that should not be influenced by emotions from the field.

What advice would you give someone starting a company for the first time?

Be curious. Don’t see what is not possible, wonder instead how many opportunities exist in every situation.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing business leaders today?

Short sightedness. This is especially true with public companies but also true with smaller companies. We build for the short term and fail to invest for the long term. Design is a favourite example of mine. Businesses should be investing more in design that tells a better brand story and provides a better user experience (regardless of product category), yet companies generally underspend in this area because it is viewed as a challenge to short-term profits.

What is the best business book that you have read and why?

Blue Ocean Strategy. It communicates a beautifully simple notion that we need to differentiate our products until we remove as many competitive pressures as possible. It is a very strong way to build a viable business.

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