Linda Hasenfratz is the CEO of Linamar Corporation. As a Canadian and global leader, Linda was named in Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women International list in 2016 and two years later, was awarded the title of Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year. Her valued leadership since 2002 has grown Linamar from $1.3 billion in revenue to $7.4 billion today. She has brought her future-facing approach to the company, which has helped broaden its scope and keep abreast of trends in different sectors to expand to the right industries at the right times. In this interview, we talk to Linda about her commitment to being bold and how that has driven her success in business and leadership.
Read below for highlights from a Q&A style interview with Linda and Level5.
At Linamar, we essentially have a 100-year plan. We tend to be very long term in our focus. When we think ‘future,’ we are thinking multi-generationally. We ask ourselves, ‘What do we need to do today in order to have a business that is still viable 100 years from now?’ We started asking questions around what’s going to influence markets over the next 100 years. We haven’t predicted everything; we’re not quite that good. We do see some more obvious trends like the growing global population and aging global population, a population that is increasingly urbanizing, and an increasing focus on the environment. All of these factors help influence what markets will be important for Linamar in the future.
1. Transportation – a market in which we are already heavily invested, and we plan to be a major market in the future.
2. Infrastructure – Linamar would replace aging infrastructure and continue to build new infrastructure in already developed countries.
3. Food and Agriculture – we became curious on feeding a growing world – what does that look like?
4. Medical Devices – with a growing need for medical assistance, whether it be diagnostic equipment or medical devices, Linamar has a place to play in this rapidly developing space.
5&6. Water and Power – we wanted to make sure this growing urbanized population has access to clean water and power. There’s greater need for power – we have more and more things that need to be charged. And availability for clean power is going to be a challenge.
We are big believers of diversification; it means all your eggs aren’t in one basket, so it’s risk mitigating. Also, it’s giving you more opportunities to grow your company. At Linamar, we find there’s also a lot of similarities across opportunities. We’re not doing completely different things when we enter new markets – it’s always about manufacturing. We can then leverage that knowledge and purchasing power across different industries. I love diversification, but it is a thoughtful diversification that is critical.
I don’t know what the mistakes are, but I can give advice on what I think should be done. An entrepreneur should set a wide enough scope for their business and set bold enough goals. In my opinion, if you set small goals, you achieve small things, and if you set bold goals, you achieve big things. I think when folks are starting out in business, they set small goals and inch along. If they set bigger goals, it’ll force them to think more broadly. I remember my dad, [who founded Linamar], had a goal of a billion dollars, which forced him to think outside of Canada. I set a goal of 10 billion, which forced me to think globally. Because we have bold goals, we continue to extend the reach of our company.
Linda continues to be bold through her leadership and drive, which pushes her company to achieve greatness. Her big ideas and large goals have enabled her to reach new frontiers. Linda continues to serve as an inspiration to new leaders and entrepreneurs to always push beyond what you believe to be possible.
On May 21st, from 7:00-8:30pm, Level5 Strategy will be hosting its first ever Women Entrepreneurship Speaker Series, “BusinessWomen of Influence” featuring Linda Hasenfratz.