People on the Move: Canadian Chamber chief economist Trevin Stratton to lead Deloitte’s economics advisory practice

Trevin Stratton
Editor's Note

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Little did Trevin Stratton know, as a young scholar, that he was onto something when he chose to focus his academic research on, of all things, economic crises.

“Certainly, I didn’t know that I would be chief economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce during the largest economic downturn since the Depression,” said Stratton, who’s also the senior vice-president of policy for Canada’s largest business association. “Interestingly enough, my thesis was on the Great Depression, too.”

By March 13, 2020, he and his boss, Perrin Beatty, were part of a call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was looking to the Canadian Chamber and Canadian Labour Congress for ideas on how to support businesses as he was preparing to shut down much of the country’s economy in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The global pandemic had begun.

Working at the Canadian Chamber during this time turned out to be “quite the whirlwind” for Stratton, who was closely involved on the economic end.

“Every day, I was receiving thousands of emails from businesses, particularly small businesses, from across the country,” said Stratton. “They were trying to figure out what was going on, trying to figure out what support programs would be there, trying to figure out the restrictions that were being put in place and what that would mean for them.”

The work hours were long and hectic, but understandably so.

“Any difference that I could make to help people’s livelihoods, help save jobs, help save businesses, and, hopefully, help produce a better or brighter future for Canada coming out of this, that was incredibly motivating.”

On Aug. 30, Stratton is joining professional services firm Deloitte as national leader of its economic advisory practice. He also becomes a partner at the firm.

“What really motivates me is having an impact. Opportunities where I’m able to do that is what I find attractive, and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to have that kind of impact with Deloitte,” he said.

The 38-year-old economist was approached by a recruiter for the Ottawa-based job.

“It is such a fascinating position,” he said of his new role. “Obviously, I’m very passionate about economics and economic development, and so being able to lead Deloitte’s economics consulting team, being able to work together with businesses and government, when it comes to economic modelling, policy making; that is right in my wheelhouse.”

Stratton was born in White Rock, B.C. but mostly grew up in Ottawa, where he excelled in school and sports. He also took an interest in the arts, particularly film. He did his undergrad at Carleton University after being awarded a Chancellor’s Scholarship. He went on to earn his master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science and his PhD at the Geneva-based Graduate Institute. Stratton has held appointments as an international scholar at such universities as Yale and was a professor at the American University in Dubai. 

In 2015, Stratton returned to Ottawa, where he founded, led and grew BDO Canada’s national economic development consulting line. His success won him a Forty Under 40 business award.

Stratton next went to the Canadian Chamber, where he became the first person of colour to hold an executive position in the nearly 100-year history of the organization. He’s a regular contributor on economic issues, appearing on national television and providing commentary in newspapers. During his three-plus years at the Chamber, he’s worked closely with Beatty, its president and CEO. 

“Learning from him has been an incredible experience,” said Stratton, who credited the one-time federal health minister with predicting the full significance of the pandemic early on and getting the Canadian Chamber prepared. 

The economy continues to see “interesting changes” due to COVID-19, as well as an acceleration of preexisting trends. That includes the move toward e-commerce, working from home, the digitization of the economy, the rapid pace of innovation, the emergence of new industries, and many businesses looking at enhancing their social impact and reducing their environmental footprint to drive long-term value, said Stratton. 

“I think there are a lot of businesses and governments out there that are really looking at how to navigate the changing landscape. Applying economic thinking to everyday business problems helps to do just that, and I’m excited about providing economic insights that can help organizations grow and thrive within that shifting landscape at Deloitte.”

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People on the Move is a monthly feature highlighting Ottawa-based professionals, managers and executives starting new positions. Want to see your appointment featured? Share your news with caroline@obj.ca.

People on the Move is supported by Boyden, connecting great leaders with great companies in Ottawa, across Canada and worldwide. Explore executive insights, human capital trends and talent solutions here.