Meet the team – Greg Keenan
This Trillium Network member is a journalist who covered the auto industry and manufacturing sector for The Globe and Mail for 23 years. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario.
Greg joined the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing on a freelance basis in 2020 and became a permanent member of the team in November, 2021.
What attracted you to the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing?
My career with The Globe and Mail was focused on the automotive, steel and airline industries. Once I retired I still wanted to be involved in writing and research and this role both gives me that opportunity and allows me to promote manufacturing.
What experience do you have in manufacturing and how has this helped you in your current role?
Manufacturing is really interesting. The best part of my job as a reporter was visiting different plants, whether it was a vehicle assembly plant, automotive parts plant or steel mill. I really enjoy seeing how things are made, when you can see the process from beginning to end. I had the opportunity to visit assembly plants in Japan, Austria and France. In Japan they have a phrase “Genchi genbutsu” which means go and see. It suggests that in order to truly understand something one needs to go to the ‘genba’ or ‘real place’ where the work is done. You will learn from it and if there is a problem, it will make it easier to see the solution. It is so simple yet brilliant and certainly something that was useful for me as a journalist.
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
My main goal is to tell more balanced stories with perspective and a positive focus on the importance of manufacturing in Ontario. I believe it’s necessary – and our TrilliumGIS mapping platform supports this– to broaden our reach beyond southern Ontario to convey the important role manufacturing plays in every city and town in the province.
What have the highlights been so far working with the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing?
The highlight for me is being able to see and soak up the energy of a younger generation of people who have great interest and curiosity about provincial manufacturing.
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
I believe in quality. Perhaps following the manufacturing industry for so long has left an indelible mark on me that we need to always produce the very best. In order to do that means evolving and asking questions.
What is your favourite hobby?
I actually have a few that really hold my interest. I love to go to Point Edward and watch the massive 1,000 foot lake freighters go under the Blue Water Bridge. I’m an avid golfer and have taken up woodworking. I’ve got a friend who has a workshop and is teaching me. I’ve gone from being a reporter who watches stuff being made to actually making stuff myself and it has been really rewarding.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I received was something I heard accidentally. The managing editor of the first daily paper I worked at was speaking to a group of students. He told them: “As a reporter, it is not what you know but who you know” and that has been so true for me in my career. The more I talk to others, the more I learn and that is my favourite part of reporting.
Last books I read: I do enjoy reading and recently finished a novel called The Investigator by John Sandford. I’m also reading a book on Irish emigration called The Coffin Ship by Cian T. McMahon . My favourite author is Robert Caro and particularly his series on former U.S. President Lyndon Johnson.
Favourite restaurant: Although we don’t get there as often as we’d like anymore, there is a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant in Toronto called Jerusalem and they make great food!
Favourite band/song: I’m a huge fan of Gordon Lightfoot’s music. I’ve seen him in concert more than 100 times. I worked as an usher at Massey Hall back in the 70s when he was at his height of fame. I’ve taken every possible opportunity since then to see him perform live.
Winter or Summer? Summer
Tea or Coffee? Tea, once a year
Pizza or Sushi? Pizza Bianca ( I don’t like tomatoes)
Ninjas or Pirates? Pirates