Rob Ashe: Brutal Optimism

Digging Deep with Mark Sutcliffe

Jun 17 2022 • 1 hr

For someone who never expected a career in business, Rob Ashe has held a lot of prominent roles. He was CEO of Cognos, general manager of business analytics at IBM, and is currently a board member at Shopify and several other companies. In this episode of Digging Deep, we go back to the beginning, when his family of nine shared a three-bedroom house and he shared a bed with a sibling. Rob shares stories of trying out for the Olympic basketball team and his road to becoming an accidental CEO. And for the first time he shares details of a major health scare on the day he became Cognos CEO, why he's donating to a new hospital in his home of Ottawa, and his entire philosophy about philanthropy. It's a story of authenticity, perseverance, and a little bit of luck.


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