The U.S.-Canada War for Marijuana Talent


2019-06-04 08:01:00


Canada has blasted out of the gate in the legal cannabis industry, with revenues expected to surpass $7 billion this year according to some reports. Just a single Canadian marijuana corporation,Aurora Cannabis ,sold 9 metric tons in the last quarter alone. Since Canadian law made cannabis legal last fall, there’s been an opportunity for explosive growth. And although U.S. federal law still bans marijuana, numerous states are legalizing it, sparking what CNBC says “looks like the fastest-growing job market in the country.” This doesn’t only set the stage for broad competition between the United States and Canada in the pot industry. It’s also setting up a race for talent in executive suites on both sides of the border. I’m seeing this in action already as president of an executive search firm in Toronto. Because marijuana has always been sold on the black market, the people with the most knowledge of the business have, by and large, not exactly been top-notch executives with experience running public corporations or large private companies. Now, however, everything is changing. The industry is quickly being taken over by legal, established corporations -- a transformation buoyed by a sudden infusion of cash from investors and stockholders. With so many stakeholders, including regulators, to answer to, these corporations are facing a host of expectations. They’re establishing boards to oversee their operations. And, sensibly, those boards are demanding that leaders with experience running billion-dollar operations take over. As EY noted, most LPs (licensed producers) “are highly entrepreneurial, which is to be expected, but they will need to quickly organize talent and apply the formality, rigor, and a lens for governance that established organizations do.” Just one of the many challenges these companies face is to “compete with other established adjacent industries — such as tobacco, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and consumer products — which are likely to have an interest in entering the market for recreational cannabis. These companies have strong ties to capital, possess mature infrastructure, brand recognition, and the knowledge of operating in a highly regulated environment.” So the search is on for CEOs and other executives to fill out pot’s new C-suites. These men and women are being lured away from pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals; greenhouse growers; generic drug manufacturers; biotech companies; consumer packaged goods companies; and more. It’s the latest twist in the ongoing competition between the U.S. and Canada for talent, and just Phase 1 in the battle for “big pot”. The possibility that the United States will legalize pot federally is on the horizon, with a bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing to strike down the federal ban and let each state decide. If such a bill becomes law, there will be no federal impediments to pot sales. It’ll be fertile ground for the emerging industry. When that happens, then the talent war will really heat up. U.S. marijuana firms will be looking to poach executives from Canadian companies -- executives who, by then, will have had enough time in the industry to see the challenges, opportunities, and avoidable mistakes, making them invaluable to emerging U.S. cannabis players. Of course, this competition isn’t limited to just two countries. With more governments legalizing weed for medical use, Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics predict worldwide spending on legal cannabis will reach $57 billion by 2027. So nations from Germany to Mexico can be expected to create new corporations -- and, in the process, look for C-suite talent with marijuana industry experience. Guess where they’ll look first? North America. We’re also likely to see a surge in competition among investment banks for people with expertise in the pot sector. Legal Cannabis has been a boon to Canadian investment banks, particularly among boutique firms. And the Canadian arms of certain U.S. advisory shops have been actively involved in some of the industry’s largest transactions, such as Greenhill advising Canopy in its $3.4 billion deal for Acreage Holdings. As the United States takes further steps toward legalization, I expect U.S. banks to start looking to pluck Canada-based investment bankers with a specialty in cannabis, who are quickly distinguishing themselves as experts in this emerging sector. All this is just the beginning. As marijuana legalization changes the landscape, all sorts of new talent pipelines are sure to sprout up. Already, more colleges and universities are launching cannabis courses -- quite possibly laying the groundwork to help develop pot CEOs of the future.
据一些报道,加拿大已经在合法大麻行业大行其道,今年的收入预计将超过70亿美元。只有一个加拿大大麻公司,奥罗拉(Aurora) Cannabis,仅上一季度就售出了9吨。 自从去年秋天加拿大法律将大麻合法化以来,有一个爆炸性增长的机会。尽管美国联邦法律仍然禁止大麻,但许多州正在将大麻合法化,这引发了 CNBC 所说的“美国增长最快的就业市场”。 这不仅为美国和加拿大在大麻产业的广泛竞争奠定了基础。它还在边境两边的高管套房中展开人才争夺战。我认为这已经是多伦多一家猎头公司的总裁了。 由于大麻一直在黑市上出售,所以对该行业最了解的人大体上并不是拥有管理上市公司或大型私人公司经验的一流高管。然而,现在一切都在变化。这一行业正迅速被合法、成熟的公司所取代,这一转变得益于投资者和股东突然注入的现金。 由于包括监管机构在内的众多利益相关者需要回答,这些公司面临着大量的期望。他们正在建立董事会来监督他们的运作。而且,明智的是,这些董事会要求有管理数十亿美元业务经验的领导人接手。 正如安永指出的那样,大多数有限责任公司(特许生产商)“具有高度的创业精神,这是可以预期的,但它们需要迅速组织人才,并应用正式、严格和成熟组织所做的治理视角。”这些公司面临的众多挑战之一,就是“与烟草、制药、酒精和消费品等其他老牌相邻行业展开竞争,这些行业可能有意进入休闲大麻市场。这些公司与资本有着密切的联系,拥有成熟的基础设施、品牌知名度,以及在高度监管的环境下运营的知识。” 因此,寻找首席执行官和其他高管来填写候选人的新 C-Suites 。这些男人和女人被引诱远离药品和营养药品;温室种植者;非专利药品制造商;生物技术公司;消费品公司;等等。 这是美国和加拿大在人才方面正在进行的竞争中的最新一次转折 “大锅”争夺战的第一阶段。美国将在联邦范围内实现大麻合法化的可能性即将出现,两党议员组成的小组正努力推翻联邦禁令,并让每个州做出决定。如果这样的法案成为法律,将不会有联邦障碍的大麻销售。这将是新兴产业的沃土。 当这种情况发生时,人才争夺战将真正升温。美国大麻公司将寻求从加拿大公司挖走高管,这些高管届时将有足够的时间在该行业看到挑战、机遇和可避免的错误,使他们对新兴的美国大麻公司非常宝贵。 当然,这种竞争并不局限于两个国家。随着更多政府将大麻合法化用于医疗用途, Arcview Market Research 和 BDS Analytics 预计,到2027年,全球合法大麻支出将达到570亿美元。因此,从德国到墨西哥等国家有望创建新的企业,并在此过程中寻找具有大麻行业经验的 C 级人才。客人们会先看看哪里?北美。 我们还可能看到投资银行之间对罐区专业人才的竞争激增。法律大麻对加拿大投资银行尤其是精品公司来说是一大利好。一些美国咨询公司的加拿大分支积极参与了该行业一些最大的交易,比如格林希尔( Greenhill )为 Canopy 以34亿美元收购 Acreage Holdings 提供咨询服务。随着美国采取进一步的合法化措施,我预计美国的银行将开始寻找总部位于加拿大、专门从事大麻业务的投资银行家,他们将很快成为这个新兴行业的专家。 所有这些只是开始。随着大麻合法化的改变,各种新的人才管道肯定会涌现。已经有更多的学院和大学开始开设大麻课程,很可能为培养未来的大麻 CEO 奠定基础。