Corner Office Shifts: WestJet names new exec to lead loyalty efforts

Plus, Balzac's taps a CPG vet as its CEO and Co-operators hires a new CIO.
WESTJET- an Alberta Partnership-WestJet announces Karl Schuster

WestJet creates new loyalty-focused executive role

Karl Shuster has joined WestJet as its first chief loyalty officer.

A new role at the airline, Shuster will be responsible for execution of growing WestJet’s loyalty program, products, services and partnerships. Shuster says that, as the airline moves from “recovery to expansion,” he sees a big opportunity to take WestJet Rewards further, and expects to give members more benefits through new enhancements and investments.

Shuster’s appointment will be effective at some point in early 2022, following the complete of his immigration from Australia, where he has spent the last six years as CEO of Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program. He will also work alongside D’Arcy Monaghan, WestJet’s current VP of loyalty.

At the end of November, WestJet also announced that Harry Taylor had officially assumed his new role of interim president and CEO of the airline. Taylor had previously been announced as the one selected to fill the position of a retiring Ed Sims.

Balzac’s hire CPG veteran as new CEO

Coffee chain Balzac’s Coffee Roasters has hired Christine Cruz-Clarke as its new CEO, effective immediately. She will oversee all company operations, with a focus on growing the brand and driving “continued commercial success.”

Balzac’s operates 17 high-end cafes across Canada. It has also been expanding its presence as a CPG brand, offering its products for sales at major and specality grocers across Canada, as well as through its own ecommerce and subscription platforms.

Cruz-Clarke is joining from TerraCycle, where she was general manager for the recycling company and its Loop program, but also brings 17 years of senior CPG marketing experience from Mars, Hershey and Kraft-Heinz.

She also helps fill a gap left by Diana Olsen, the co-founder and former president of the company, who left late last year to focus on a new venture, clothing brand Inner Beach.

“An executive of Christine’s calibre, her years of relevant experience steering consumer-focused brands, along with her expertise in sustainability, made her a complete standout for this role,” says Arlene Dickinson, general partner of District Ventures Capital, which holds a majority ownership in Balzac’s Coffee Roasters.

Co-operators names replacement for its CIO

Insurance company Co-operators has picked Harry Pickett as its new interim EVP and chief information officer, effective December 6, 2021, for a period of 18 months.

For a term of 18 months, Pickett will be responsible for the overall strategy, planning, development and execution of the insurance brand’s IT function, developing the skills and capabilities of the team to support strategic plans, creating operational efficiencies and competitive differentiation. That is especially vital for the brand at this moment, which is in the midst of a digital transformation initiative.

Pickett has over 30 years of experience from the financial service and retail sectors. He was recently global CIO of investment firm Aimia, and has also had stints Symcor, Manulife, CIBC and BMO.

He fills a role left by previous EVP and CIO Carol Poulsen, who first joined the company in 2011 and is planning to retire at the end of 2021.