From investor to diplomat: Bruce Heyman, former U.S. ambassador to Canada

BY Yaelle Gang in Canadian Investment Review | February 5, 2019

After over 30 years in the investment world, Bruce Heyman, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, says he never anticipated he would change careers, but when the opportunity came up to become Barack Obama’s ambassador to Canada it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

Heyman says his biggest success as an ambassador was developing the strategic plan for the change of government that took place in Canada in 2015 and implementing the plan that resulted in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau coming to the White House for a state dinner and the reciprocal invitation of former President Barack Obama being invited to speak before parliament, which no U.S. president had done in more than 20 years.

“We were able to create this high level of engagement across our shared border that hadn’t happened in decades,” he said.

Today, Heyman was appointed as the new-co-chair of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute Advisory Board.

Heyman and his wife have also recently co-written a book, which is coming out soon, called the Art of Diplomacy: Strengthening the Canada-U.S. Relationship in Times of Uncertainty.  “The art of diplomacy is something that is in some ways a lost art and especially now where we have even many ambassadorial positions not even being filled by this new administration.”

Heyman highlights that diplomacy is important now more than ever and it’s important for the U.S. to be communicating with other countries in a consistent way. “We’re in a world where the president is making proclamations via tweets and statements that are not fully vetted or thought out and, in some ways, cause feelings to be hurt or misunderstandings in terms of goals of what the United States is trying to achieve in any area,” he says.

Heyman’s advice for investors navigating this uncertain world is to be nimble.

“The real challenge in investing today is how fast things are changing and with the advent of this technological era in which automation and artificial intelligence and biological changes are happening so rapidly . . . companies who are very successful today may find themselves out of business or outmoded very quickly,” he says. “And so the challenge for global investors is to be nimble and be flexible and be able to move with this ever-changing environment.”

He adds that for investors that don’t have the capacity to be nimble, it’s important to be diversified as being concentrated may pose a larger risk in this fast-moving world.

He also cautions that the current economic cycle has been long and is mature, so investors must be prepared for more challenging times for returns in the near term.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman will be speaking at Canadian Investment Review’s Global Investment Conference in April.