M Power Exclusive: The sisters behind TED Vancouver

Janet and Katherine McCartney set to speak at the next M Power event on November 9th.

October 27, 2015

By Tom Gierasimczuk / Photo: Rockwell Group

For the past two years, during a week in March, billions of dollars of net worth has sat, thigh-to-thigh, in a custom-built theatre in the west ballroom of the Vancouver Convention Centre. It’s possibly the largest concentration of wealth on the planet during that time, with attendees such as Al Gore, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin. For all the star power, though, the éminences grises behind this digital Davos are the twins Janet and Katherine McCartney. With a staff of about 55 people (40 full timers, 15 part timers), they run TED’s almost $60-million conference business out of the North Van offices of PDW (Procreation Design Works), the event production company that has worked with TED curator Chris Anderson since 2002.

“TED in Vancouver is more than simply filling hotels and a convention centre,” says Greg Klassen, who as former CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission (now Destination Canada) worked with the sisters to bring TED to town from Long Beach for the first time last year. “It’s about the scientists, engineers, venture capitalists, Hollywood stars, and decision-makers in Vancouver year after year who develop a relationship with our business community.” Everybody wins. Burnaby-based General Fusion Inc. appointed astronaut Mark Kelly to its advisory council after meeting him at TED, and—coincidence or not—Microsoft announced its Vancouver expansion (and 400 projected new jobs) six weeks after the temporary theatre was disassembled last March.

Thanks to the sisters’ negotiating acumen, PDW’s production expertise, and the success of the first Vancouver TED in 2014, the conference is here to stay. Chris Anderson announced earlier this year: “This is our home for the foreseeable future.”

If you would like to hear from the McCartney sisters themselves, register here to attend our free M Power event at Brian Jessel BMW.

M Power Speak Series
Brian Jessel BMW
2311 Boundary Road,
Vancouver
Nov. 9th, 6p.m.-8p.m.

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