Seed World

To be a Successful Leader, Know the Importance of Cultural Differences

The role of the modern CEO has evolved to encompass a wide range of responsibilities that extend beyond traditional business functions. A CEO is now expected to be a visionary, a crisis manager, an innovator and a leader. Seed World Canada has selected six CEOs for our list of the top boardroom leaders of the year. Here’s the second entry.

Known not just for his strong, confident handshake but also for his dedication to fostering a positive culture within the organization he leads, David Hansen has been an instrumental force in propelling Canterra Seeds to new heights. While many CEOs exhibit a results-driven mindset, what truly sets Hansen apart is his people skills, colleagues say.

Hansen embarked on his journey with Canterra Seeds 14 years ago, and in that time, he has transformed the company in ways that resonate far beyond the bottom line. His boldness and passion have driven the organization to strive for greatness, leading to fruitful partnerships with both local and global entities.

In fact, his global experience began with a six-year stint in Asia. From 2003 to 2008, he lived and worked in China, where he was involved in the cotton industry. This experience was not just a brief visit; he and his family made Beijing their home, and Hansen traveled extensively throughout Asia. This international immersion fundamentally shaped his perspective on leadership.

“One of my most significant takeaways from my time in China was my deep appreciation for culture. I quickly realized that when operating in a foreign country with a rich history like China, understanding the local culture was paramount,” he says. “People’s ideas, work ethic and values are deeply rooted in their cultural heritage.”

His willingness to embrace and respect these differences have set him apart as the CEO of Canterra Seeds, a role he recently handed over to a successor as Hansen prepares to retire at the end of 2023. Hansen knows that what worked in China doesn’t necessarily apply in Canada, a piece of advice he passes on to Canterra’s new CEO.

“Leaders who fail to acknowledge and adapt to cultural nuances often struggle,” he adds.