CEOs from ten of Canada’s biggest corporations stealthily join the ranks of their own unsuspecting workforce in the anticipated new series Undercover Boss Canada. Each episode features a prominent executive from a Canadian company who goes incognito among their employees. The executive, in disguise, works with their staff who believe they are simply training a new recruit. Each “boss” takes an often emotional journey, discovering the effects their decisions have on others, the perception of the company, and who the unsung heroes of their workforce are. Most importantly, they learn how to apply what they have gained from the experience – both for their company and for themselves.
As the new CEO of the Toronto Zoo, John Tracogna has a lot of beasts to herd. The zoo’s livelihood relies on private investments and grants, but the city threatening a sale following $1 million in budget cuts has donors closing their wallets. Between press fiascos over separated gay penguins and imported giant pandas costing a fortune, John goes undercover to get a sense of employee morale and maintain perspective on what is important – conservation, breeding endangered species and making sure the daily tonne of animal food gets distributed properly.
Paul Goddard has big shoes to fill as recently appointed CEO of Canada's largest and most successful pizza chain, Pizza Pizza. His late father-in-law Michael Overs – who founded the business 45 years ago – turned the brand into a multi-million dollar company. Now Paul has taken over in this highly competitive industry, but his background is in the oil industry and IT – not pizza. Paul goes undercover to get a slice of the action and the frontline information he needs to run the company successfully. From the dough factory floor onto the delivery routes in Edmonton and Toronto, Paul gains a fresh perspective on Pizza Pizza – and the challenges the company faces day-to-day.
As newly appointed Toronto Transit Commission Chair, the pressure is on for Karen Stintz to keep the city’s main public transit artery up to speed. From fare hikes and route cutting to service delays and persistent bad press about employees, Karen is under constant scrutiny. Facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, Stintz and the TTC have rough times ahead. Karen signs up for the ride of her life as she goes undercover in hopes to solve some major public transit issues and repair the TTC's damaged reputation.
Just over 20 years ago, Brian Scudamore had a vision for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Since then, he has revolutionized customer service in the junk removal business, having built the largest junk removal franchise in the world. Brian was once a junk remover himself and knows the ropes, but now he goes undercover to really understand how the franchisees in his business work. With recent motivation to grow his one-day painting service, he needs new ammunition and a better understanding on how to improve customer service and marketing. Getting down and dirty on the job, Brian collects much more than junk – including new inspiration from employees along the way.
Toronto headquartered Cineplex theatres plays host to 70 million guests annually. CEO Ellis Jacob has had wild success in the theatre business, but the digital revolution has left audiences with a myriad of viewing options. As such, Cineplex is well aware they had better take nothing for granted. Ellis goes undercover in theatres serving popcorn and selling tickets in hopes to improve efficiency and innovation in order keep the good times rolling. But how will this media mogul perform on the ground floor away from his spreadsheets and head office corner suite?
With Molson CEO Dave Perkins too recognizable for the job, Chief Legal Officer Kelly Brown goes undercover in the Molson Coors Breweries across Canada. A new mother, Kelly leaves her young daughter at home, traveling from east to west to brave the production line and overnight shifts. Working in a male-dominated industry, Kelly connects with other women in the breweries to see what they face on the job – and she is surprised by what she learns. As well, facing public criticism from beer lovers of Molson’s “industrial” taste, Kelly gets into the hops and testing at the Creemore plant. She also checks if corners are being cut safety-wise. She discovers employee dedication she can raise a glass to, and makes some emotional connections along the way.
Under CEO Stacey Mowbray’s direction, Second Cup is gunning to reverse the losses of the last decade and take on the intense coffee chain competition as Canadians’ cup of choice. The challenge is steering a new course in the franchise system where change can’t be mandated, but rather inspired. With bold competition and an evolving brand, Second Cup needs to make its mark as a company that cares and provides the best cafe experience. Stacey gets brewing with her frontline employees – her most valuable asset – and shows them what this really means.
COO of GoodLife Fitness Jane Riddell enjoys making a difference in people’s lives through fitness. From coast to coast, one in every 45 Canadians is a GoodLife member. Creativity and new programs for member and employee retention are necessary to be competitive in the gym crowd. Without this, profitability could flounder. Jane immerses herself in the gym scene to gain new insight. As an undercover boss, she works as a Zumba instructor trainee, a maintenance worker and salesperson, whose competitive skills may not be up to snuff. Later, when she witnesses employee dedication wavering, she must exercise her covert operation skills.
Michael Sneyd, CEO of Skyline International Development, is new to the company and has been tasked by Skyline’s investors to take business to the next level creating a coast-to-coast hotel group. During one of the most severe downturns the hospitality industry has experienced in decades, Skyline is relying on its employees to provide superior guest experiences in resorts that need updating and investment. Michael knows he also needs to cut costs – and that means getting creative. His goal in going undercover is to engage front line employees and get their ideas up the chain’s fast-growing infrastructure. If all goes to plan, the sky is the limit.
Lisa Lisson, CEO of FedEx Express Canada, knows how to deliver. But as a single mother with a high stress job, she also believes in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. FedEx is consistently listed as one of the top 50 best Canadian employers and Lisa knows to be number one, the FedEx work environment needs to improve. She believes that when employees are engaged, committed and motivated by their leaders and work culture, they are driven to contribute to the company’s well being. Lisa goes undercover to ensure employees have the tools they need to succeed - and that FedEx not only delivers to its customers, but also to its valuable employees.