The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal invites its five key sponsors to speak on a variety of issues that contribute to the city’ economic momentum.
This interview was conducted with Erik J. Ryan, SNC-Lavalin’s Executive Vice-President, Strategy, Marketing and External Relations.
CCMM: What place do Montréal companies occupy today on the international scene?
Erik J. Ryan (E. J. R.): Internationalization has always been an option for Quebec entrepreneurs. If we go back 20 or 30 years, many entrepreneurs were doing business outside Quebec. However, this process has grown and accelerated due to the digital economy that facilitates the purchase of products and services abroad.
As a result, Montréal companies today play a major role internationally in the export and acquisition community, in all sectors and around the world. It is a solid foundation, but we have the opportunity to do even more, especially medium-sized companies.
CCMM: How can we make the city more attractive in terms of foreign investment and talent?
E. J. R.: I think there are two key aspects to strengthening Montréal's attractiveness for foreign capital.
First, we have to ensure that our companies stand out for the quality of their products and services. To do so, they must be even more competitive, and this must be reflected in the added value they bring or in the lower costs they require.
Secondly, we have to support our companies in their acquisitions and their development of markets abroad. Governments, as well as institutions such as Investissement Québec and banks, can provide the necessary support. The CCMM also offers very useful support to entrepreneurs.
CCMM: How did your company successfully expand internationally? What advice would you give to companies that want to break into foreign markets?
E. J. R.: Creativity, innovation and quality of products and services are essential, but not enough. You need a firm resolve to access foreign markets and conquer them, one at a time.
When you export, you’re active in new business environments and have to learn new ways of working. It’s a mistake to think that things are the same abroad as they are here. To be successful, it is essential to study the target markets, know ways of doing things and network with similar sized companies or companies in a related sector that are already present locally. I recommend that entrepreneurs who want to expand internationally be curious and not be afraid to ask questions.
SNC-Lavalin is present in more than 50 countries on all continents. Within the framework of the internationalization process, we are guided by our values, mission and vision. These basic building blocks set us apart and allow us to adapt well and succeed in new markets.