True North Festival blog

Meet the spark that lit the fire around the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Iain Klugman, President & CEO, Communitech

February 19 , 2020 | True North Team

Cambridge Analytica’s least favourite person
We’re so, so excited to announce our first keynote speaker for True North Centre Stage: investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr. Featured in Netflix’s The Great Hack, Cadwalladr is a Pulitzer-nominated reporter and feature writer for The Observer, sister publication to The Guardian, the respected British newspaper. In 2018, she worked alongside The New York Times to break a story that sent shockwaves around the world: that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting company, had illicitly harvested data from millions of Facebook accounts to influence political campaigns, including Donald Trump’s successful 2016 U.S. presidential bid.

The shockwaves that Carole’s article sent around the world were most notably felt in Palo Alto, California as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called before the United States Congress to testify as to his organization’s complicit participation with Cambridge Analytica’s data-mining practices. As a result, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion, the largest penalty ever levied against a tech company - a move that caused their share price to drop by more than $100 billion. 

Carole’s work has been awarded both a Polk Award and Orwell Prize for political journalism. To top that off, she was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for National Reporting in 2019. 

With whispers of interference in the upcoming US Presidential election already starting to surface, True North Centre Stage is where you’ll get the inside scoop on how Carole Cadwalladr broke this story heard round the world (and got the ‘Zuck in a suit!) as well as what we Canadians need to be looking out for when it comes to protecting our private and personal digital data going forward. 

Our rock in a sea of change
It wouldn’t be True North without our favourite host, Talia Sanhewe. Returning for the third year, Sanhewe will bring her wit, insight, humour and charisma to our new stage at Centre in the Square in Downtown Kitchener. Prior to launching her production company, Sanhewe reported for the BBC World Service, CNN International, Forbes Africa Magazine and Oprah Magazine. Talia holds a BA Film & Media Degree from the University of Cape Town and attended the UCLA School of Film & Television.

Wait, who’s that closing keynote speaker?
Conferences, like life, are better with a little mystery. WE know who the True North Centre Stage closing keynote is. BUT, we’re going to keep that news a secret for just a little bit longer. If you’re nice, we’ll give you a hint. Maybe. All we can say is that we set off confetti cannons in the office when we found out - and you likely will too.

Beyond Centre Stage
True North Centre Stage is where we all come together for keynotes with Carole Caldwalldr and our mystery guest (you really thought we’d give you a hint that fast, eh?). And our Communitech Summit speaker lineups are going to be equally awesome: 

Jeff Ward will be speaking at the Tech For Good Summit on Wednesday, Jun. 3. Ward is the CEO of Animikii, an Indigenous digital agency with an expert team across a number of digital spaces, including web design, software development, design, branding and digital communications. 

The Start & Scale Summit examines the skills, labour and culture challenges facing high-growth firms and provides strategies for success. We’ve got leaders from three of Deloitte Technology’s Fast 50 ranking companies on stage with Real Ventures’ Managing Partner, Janet Bannister. Hear from ApplyBoard CEO Martin Basari, Intellijoint CEO Armen Bakirtzian and Auvik CEO Marc Morin to learn how they’ve overcome these challenges and are taking their companies into markets across the world.

Ash Maurya (!!!) is the creator of the highly popular one-page business modelling tool “Lean Canvas.” He’ll be speaking at the Corporate Innovation Summit on how corporations can create impact at scale and maximize the ROI of growth and innovation initiatives.

Data is the new oil AND the new asbestos. It represents both great opportunity and, potentially, great harm. But those who choose to ignore data do so at their own peril. In the Data & Advanced Technologies Summit, KPMG’s Alex Benay will guide us through how to turn data-driven inspirations into action plans. 

Get your pass today!
What makes cities smarter? How are the future of work and learning changing in Waterloo Region and around the world? What does citizenship and democracy look like for humans in a world that eats data for breakfast? What does tech for good really mean?

These are a lot of challenging questions. Come explore how and see how tech can make us happier and healthier (or not) at True North Centre Stage on June 2-3, 2020. 

Your True North Centre Stage pass gets you access to the Tech For Good Summit and the True North Centre Stage keynotes with Carole Caldwalldr and our (still a mystery - nice try tho) closing keynote. 

It’s time responsible corporations became part of global solutions

Conventional and historical wisdom said leaders of big companies like Maple Leaf Foods, which McCain leads, don't just grab the reins of the company Twitter account to express exasperation about world affairs. They particularly don't do so if they're a publicly traded entity. After all, a CEO's duty is to make money for shareholders, not hold forth on politics, critique foreign affairs, or advocate for social change.

But maybe the time has come to suggest that's exactly what responsible CEOs should do...

True North Festival 2020: taking it to the Streets

Innovation. It’s a word so often used that it starts to lose impact.

Here in Waterloo Region, we look at innovation as more than a buzzword. It’s a call-to-action.

Canada’s largest AI competition announced

Communitech is excited to announce the Leaders Prize at True North, in partnership with the Schulich Foundation and Leaders Fund, and the University of Waterloo as the academic partner.

True North Tech for Good Declaration: The Canadian tech industry’s living document

Last May, a group of attendees to the first-ever True North conference created a set of guiding principles that all aspiring organizations can follow to create and use technology for the good of humanity: the Tech for Good Declaration.