Beedie hosts Vision Critical CEO Angus Reid

Sep 20, 2012

Angus Reid (left), founder and CEO of market research and technology firm Vision Critical, being interviewed by CKNW host Bill Good (right).

Angus Reid, founder and CEO of market research and technology firm Vision Critical, and founder and former CEO of Angus Reid Group, a market research supplier that grew into the largest research firm in Canada, today talked about his diverse business career in front of a live audience at the Beedie School of Business.

The interview was part of the Beedie School of Business’ partnership with prominent Vancouver radio station CKNW, which sees SFU’s downtown Vancouver campus play host to “The Chief Executives”, a series of live radio interviews conducted by CKNW host Bill Good, profiling some of the country’s top executives.

Good began the interview by asking Reid what he remembered about his first ever job, which was revealed to have been a janitorial position at Safeway in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1961, where he earned $37.50 a week. “I learned a lot in that job,” said Reid. “I learned about productivity, and how to go about getting people to work faster and more efficiently.”

Reid has come a long way since his days of sweeping floors. After selling his first company, Angus Reid Group, in a $100 million deal in 2000, he took two years out of business. Good asked Reid what drew him back into the business world. “My son, Andrew, kept telling me that the internet was going to change the way the world predicts consumer trends,” he explained. “In 2004 he founded a small company called Vision Critical and I came on board as CEO shortly thereafter – it was a rare instance of a father taking over his son’s company rather than the other way around.”

At a young age, unsure of what career path to follow, Reid opted to take advantage of some career aptitude testing offered to him. It was this testing that started him down the path to research, as he followed the advice and went on to study sociology at university. A career in academia ensued, following which he moved on to help with government research, before finally starting his own business.

Reid admitted, however, that the transition from a career in academia as a sociologist to a career in business did not come easily. “I didn’t have a clue. I thought a balance sheet was something you stand on,” he exclaimed, to a chorus of laughter from the audience.

Reid then touched upon changes which have taken place in research today. He explained that polling has changed to such an extent over the last few years that now anyone can conduct this sort of research, making it hard to know whether statistics are accurate. He also mentioned his disappointment in the media publishing research without any regard for where it comes from or how reliable it may be these days. He spoke of his belief that more vigilance in the media in general with regards to publishing research is a necessity.

Questioned about his thoughts on management and how to maintain a staff of the best people around, Reid shared his philosophy with the audience. “A sense of ownership is critical if you want your people to perform,” he explained. “A lot of CEOs will ask their staff to work hard to make them rich. We steal a lot of these companies’ employees. You have to entice people to work hard for you – at Vision Critical we ask our people to work hard to make themselves rich.”

Throughout the interview, Reid fielded questions from the audience, touching upon the need to be open to opportunities rather than try to define a career path at a young age; how having only a goal of making a lot of money in life is the wrong attitude to take; and detailing some of the schemes he uses to distribute ownership to his staff.

Finally, Reid spoke of the need for CEOs to move with the times and adopt new practices to ensure the productivity of their people. “As a CEO you have to work hard to make staff feel they are part of a team,” he said. “CEOs can’t hide in their big private offices, there has to be a lot of face time. You want people to commit to you over a long period of time. We are living in a more diverse society than ever, and you have to find a way to be consistent with the values of the 21st century.”

The next CEO to be interviewed as part of the Chief Executives Series will be Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hoot Suite.

For more information about the CKNW Chief Executives Series at the Beedie School of Business, visit

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