In a turbulent year dominated by an unprecedented health crisis, top-ranking chief executives across Canada have taken decisive action to protect their staff, support their customers, and — in the most hard-hit industries — keep their businesses alive.

“The dreams, plans, and hard work of so many have been undermined by the global pandemic,” said David McKay, CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada, who observed how devastating this past year has been for so many families and businesses: “The sudden loss of loved ones. The loss of jobs and small businesses. Missing out on the valuable experiences of a normal school year.”

When Covid-19 hit, McKay acted quickly, temporarily closing hundreds of RBC branches and enabling nearly 90 percent of employees — more than 75,000 across 36 countries — to work from home. The CEO was rewarded for his response to the pandemic by buy-side analysts, money managers, and sell-side researchers at securities firms and financial institutions, who ranked McKay first among chief executives in the financial institution sector in Institutional Investor’s sophomore All-Canada Executive Team. 

Elsewhere, the sudden drop in customers as people retrenched indoors forced what Air Canada chief Calin Rovinescu described as “the most painful decision of my career”: laying off half of the airline’s workforce. “Given the disappearance of more than 90 percent of our business, we regrettably had to retrench and downsize,” he said.

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