What Do Canadian Startup CEOs Pack?

In the current issue of Air Canada enRoute magazine, you’ll learn about 19 Canadian startups that are changing the world. We asked three of those companies’ CEOs to share their travel essentials.

Our experts

Laura McGee’s company Diversio is revolutionizing diversity in the workplace.

Manmeet Maggu is helping disabled kids walk again with Trexo Robotics.

Rob Niven’s green concrete startup, CarbonCure, is breathing fresh air into the construction industry.

1. The right tech

“I never travel without an iPad,” says Laura. “At Diversio, we built a calculator configured for an iPad that can predict the profit you’d make if you improved diversity at your company. It’s something fun to do with new clients or prospects.” For Manmeet, nothing beats his Sony WH1000XM3 noise-cancelling headphones. “They’re the ultimate tool to cut out the aircraft noise to get some sleep, take calls or listen to an audiobook.”

2. Sources of inspiration

“I love listening to Freakonomics, watching TED Talks and reading the Bill and Melinda Gates blog,” says Rob. “Bill Gates is one of our investors, so I like to stay in touch with his thinking on leadership, the environment and social issues.” Manmeet also loves audiobooks. “My recent favourite is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, an exploration of how ideas and trends can spread like wildfire.”

3. Sleep aids

“I get laughs from every customs agent because my travel pillow is actually a full-size pillow,” says Laura. “I find the extra support amazing for catching some sleep in the window seat.” She adds that learning to sleep well while travelling is a skill that ultimately helped her improve her quality of life and work.

4. Fitness gear

Rob’s New Balance trail runners allow for ridge runs whenever possible. “New Balance shoes also look good enough that I can wear them around the city,” he says. “As a tech CEO in a high-growth company, I’m always trying to balance family life, work and health. Trail running and being outside helps me recharge my batteries and inspires me.” He and Laura have that in common: “I always bring my Rockport slip-ons,” she says. “I have them in three different colours! I love going on four-hour-long walks in new cities.”

5. The perfect travel outfit

“Gone are the days of the CEO suit,” says Manmeet. “I like to travel in my Trexo-branded hoodie and my Levi’s jeans. A cozy and comfortable hoodie is the best piece of clothing for all my travels and meetings.” Laura concurs: “I don’t care how professional the people around me look, I’m flying in my Lululemon Align Pant II,” she says. “It’s also what I wear to work in the hotel room.”

6. Emergency measures

“I always bring a collapsible water bottle to avoid using unnecessary plastic cups and bottles, as well as a Tide to Go stain remover, since I always seem to spill,” says Rob. Laura never fails to withdraw $100 in local currency at the airport upon landing. “I learned that lesson the hard way while trying to pay for a cab on credit in Buenos Aires. There was definitely a language barrier with the driver, and he kicked me out of the cab in the middle of nowhere with all my luggage – and my full-size travel pillow!”

7. Personal talismans

Both Rob and Manmeet have special items that they always travel with. For Rob, it’s a concrete pen by 22 Design Studio. “I found it in Taipei and I use it to sign deals.” For Manmeet, it’s a hard-earned piece of jewellery. “My personal talisman is my iron ring,” he says. “It’s a reminder of our duty to the world as engineers and of Trexo’s duty to its customers.”