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Strategies, advice and opinions helping to define and develop the role of IT leaders and their staffs.

CIO Career Advice: Moving Up the Business Ladder

Over the past couple of decades I’ve met many CIOs with aspirations to move out of IT and up the corporate ladder. Some succeeded; many more did not.

Despite the advantage of being an executive with a view across the entire business, it’s simply not an easy task for the CIO to break out of IT. The reasons for this are many: the CIO is a relative newcomer to the executive suite; in many organizations there’s a lack of connectedness between the business and IT; many see IT as a cost centre rather than a strategic tool for innovation and revenue generation; IT has a long history of project failure and underperformance in the eyes of the business; and the list goes on.


CIO Career Advice: Underutilized IT Execs, Get Your Knowledge Working For You

In my recent blog, "CIO Careers: When you’re gone, make sure you’re not forgotten", I wrote about the various ways unemployed CIOs can keep from getting stale-dated and enhance their chances of finding a new and perhaps even better job.

The second blog in my “CIO Career Advice” series speaks not only to unemployed IT execs but also to those with some extra time on their hands (okay, I know they are rarae aves, but they’re out there). Those in either category can enhance their profile, better brand themselves by creating more visibility for their skills, knowledge and ambitions, and perhaps earn some good money in the process by packaging up their specialized knowledge and putting it into the marketplace. Here are a few ways to do this.


Getting started with Big Data (Video)

Roger Moryoussef of Sun Life Financial talks about the company’s entry into the Big Data world and some of the strategies they undertook to help the business gain the greatest value from its data initiatives. Collaboration, clear business objectives, promotion and measurement are some of their key learnings. Sun Life Financial was one of several companies participating in The IT Media Group’s executive Roundtable, “the Economics of Big Data.”


CIO Careers: When you’re gone, make sure you’re not forgotten

Even though the Canadian IT executive community is small, it’s surprising how often CIOs who have been made to walk the plank – often through no fault of their own – sink out of sight with barely a ripple. They may let a few of their close associates know, but the broader IT executive community is none the wiser. By the time they hear about it, it’s several months after the fact.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of very capable ex-CIOs out there who want to continue their careers but who’ve spent too long on the sidelines. They’re now not only unemployed but also stale-dated. If they find a CIO job at all, it will likely be one of considerably less stature than their previous one.


Big Data and Social Media (Video)

As consumers turn more and more to digital channels for purchasing, communicating and researching, savvy companies are finding ways to engage with them digitally through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, through public discussion forums, and through interactivity on their own web sites. But buried in the millions of conversations and comments are potential insights into trends and preferences that some companies are finding by applying Big Data techniques to their analysis.

While relatively few companies have seriously mined social media for such insights, some of the CIOs attending The IT Media Group CIO Roundtable exploring The Economics of Big Data shared some initial experiences that point to the intelligence value social media promises.


Strategic Insights Report: Marketing IT to the Business

All CIOs face similar roadblocks throughout their careers: internal business partners who distrust IT and want as little to do with it as possible; end users who are resistant to new ways of doing things and frustrated at not being able to use their own devices and apps; and senior management who lack a good understanding of technology and are unwilling to invest in key elements of the IT strategy.

These roadblocks differ from one organization to the next, and every CIO has his or her own way of dealing with them. Improperly navigated, any one of them can send the CIO’s career into a skid, so it is imperative that all CIOs stay abreast of techniques that will help them overcome these obstacles.


Why are so many CIOs stumped by social?

In a recent Forbes article, Oracle Corp. Senior VP Communications, Bob Evans, ranked “Lead the Social Revolution: Drive the Social-enabled Enterprise” number two on his list of “The Top Ten Strategic Issues for CIOs in 2013”. 

Evans is right about social being strategically important and he’s right again in asserting that “CIOs who fight this trend will be pushed aside by CMOs and LOB heads who understand social’s potential and know they can’t compete unless that potential is harnessed by the company for competitive advantage”.


Big Data = Big Opportunity for CIOs

As a CIO, by now you’re already smack dab in the middle of the Big Data era. Doesn’t matter what size your company is; doesn’t matter if Big Data has never been considered as part of the IT or business strategy; doesn’t even matter if the words have never crossed the lips of anyone in company. 

As IBM likes to remind us, the world is adding 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. To put it in nice round figures, that’s 2,500,000,000,000,000,000. So for all those whose living depends on their ability to manage information, let me offer a few words of advice around Big Data, borrowed from the LGBT community: “It’s here. It affects your career. Get used to it.”


In search of the future CIO

More than any other C-suite executive, CIOs are given to collective self-examination and tireless speculation on the future of their profession. That’s not surprising given the fact that CIOs are relative C-suite newbies, and in many companies, even in today’s digital world, are still not accorded equal standing with their executive peers.

Since IT managers began morphing into CIOs in the 1990s, the role of the CIO has been a moving target, affected by the rapid pace of technology change, huge shifts to the IT service provider market, varying trends in the corporate view of IT, and increasingly demanding communities of customers and end-users. Little wonder that even some of the best CIOs have had difficulty coming anywhere close to hitting the bull’s eye of this moving target.


IT staffing: How to keep your top performers happy

The good news: According to Robert Half Technology’s most recent quarterly survey, Canadian CIOs plan an increase in IT staffing activity in the fourth quarter of 2012. It’s a sign of growing corporate confidence in the economy and in information technology as a means to take advantage of it.

The bad news: There’s already a shortfall in the skills most in demand. The Outlook for Human Resources in the ICT Labour Market, 2011-2016, a report produced by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) working with the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), predicted that between 2011 and 2016, Canadian employers will need to hire some 106,000 ICT workers—more than 17,000 per year. 


Glass ceiling still tough to crack

Kudos to three leading women IT executives in Canada who were recognized for their outstanding achievements in 2011. In December, Dr. Catherine Aczel Boivie and Susan Doniz were on the Top 100 list of Canada’s most powerful women, released by WXN (Women’s Executive Network), Canada’s leading organization dedicated to the advancement and recognition of women in management, executive, professional and board roles. Two months earlier, Gale Blank, VP & CIO of Wal-Mart Canada Corp, was named one of ten IT executive “2011 Breakaway Leaders” at the Global CIO Executive Summit in South Carolina.


The Changing Relationship Between IT and the Business (video)

John Tolkamp, IT Director at Ainsworth Engineered talks about changes in business and IT that affect how the two interact. His comments were recorded following The IT Media Group Roundtable “Winning Tactics for Hard Times”, in Vancouver, March 27th 2012.


The Elephant in the C-suite

Ever since Nicolas Carr’s famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) article in the May 2003 issue of the Harvard Business Review, “IT Doesn’t Matter”, CIOs have held a mirror up to themselves and their profession, nervously looking for any tell-tale wrinkles that may signal the beginning of their decline.

In the years since Carr’s article, commoditization of IT, cloud computing, Software as a Service and other technologies have become significantly more prevalent, indeed making many aspects of enterprise IT mere table stakes, providing little or nothing in the way of competitive advantage.


CIOs – Defending IT investments

Given the economic uncertainty that still prevails, many CIOs are still asked to manage costs lower than they would like. We asked a group of CIOs what investments and resources they most want to defend when making decisions about cost reduction. The discussion focused on areas that include showing value, quick wins and key people.

Speech therapy for CIOs

In 1987 IDG launched CIO magazine in the U.S. In 1993 the Canadian edition, CIO Canada, was born and I had the privilege of serving as its founding editor; a role that allowed me to stay close to Canada’s IT leaders and, to a great extent, share in their experience. I don’t know if CIO magazine actually coined the title CIO, but certainly the magazine and its sister publications that followed in many other countries were and are advocates for the idea that IT in the enterprise is so important, so strategic, that its most senior representative should be a C-level member of the executive team.


Cracking the alignment nut

Perhaps more than any other C-suite executive, CIOs must constantly confront and resolve issues related to widespread and rapid change. It’s ironic, then, that perhaps the biggest issue they face seems impervious to change. It’s been going on as long as CIOs came into being, and for many in the profession, it’s still the toughest nut to crack.


Creating Great CIO Conversations

As every CIO knows, there are two ways to get really great IT management information. The first is the old fashioned way, by earning it, through trial and error, hard work and (usually) lots of money. The second and altogether more humane and civilized approach is by picking the brain of a peer who has done it the old fashioned way, wears the scars to prove it, and is willing to share that hard-won knowledge and insight in the interest of the CIO community at large.


Tune in Ted for some valuable ideas (video)

Our video “One Million Acts of Innovation”, featuring Ted Maulucci, CIO of condominium developer Tridel Corp. describes ways that CIOs can bring significant value to their company for little or no cost. It may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t – Ted has done it himself.


Managing Big Data (video)

To gain a better understanding of what's happening in the real world, The IT Media Group hosted a roundtable discussion focused on Big Data on February 28th, 2013. Sponsored by Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), the session brought together a dozen CIOs from prominent companies from around the GTA.

See also: Roundtable: The Economics of Big Data

The Big IT Sell: Parts 1, 2 & 3

The full report is now available for download...

Strategic Insights Report: Marketing IT to the Business

Past Attendees

ADP - VP Architecture & Infrastructure

AESO - VP, Information Technology

Agnico Eagle Mines - VP, IT

Agrium - Global Mgr., IT Security

Agrium - Senior Director IT Shared Services

Aimia - SVP & Global CIO

Ainsworth Engineered - Director IT

Air Canada Vacations - Director IT

Alberta Energy Regulator - Director, Office of the CIO

Anthem Properties - VP IS

AON Risk Solutions Canada - Head of IT

Aviva Canada - VP, Architecture & Strategy

Bank of America Merrill Lynch - CTO

BC Ferry Services - VP & CIO

Bell Business Markets - Director, Strategy & Planning

Bell Canada - National Director, Digital Transformation

Bellatrix Exploration - Director, Information Technology

Bentall Kennedy - VP IT

Black Press - CTO

BlackBerry - VP Corporate IT

BMO Financial Group - Head of Services Delivery

Bombardier Aerospace - CISO

Bonavista Petroleum - Head of IT

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP - Global CIO

Bow Valley College - Director, IT Services

Bridgewater Bank - Head of IT

BuildDirect - VP IT

Bulk Barn - Head, IT

Burnco - CIO

Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec - VP, IT Planning, Architecture, Governance, Operations

Calfrac Well Services - Head of IT

Canada Mortgage and Housing - VP, Information & Technology

Canadian Depository for Securities - CIO

Canadian Direct Insurance - CTO

Canadian Payments Association - VP & CIO

Canucks Sports - Head of IT

Capgemini - Service Delivery Director


Cardel Homes - VP MIS

Cargojet - CIO

CCS Corp. - VP IT

CDSPI - Board Director

Centerra Gold - Director IT & Comm

CIBC - Senior Director, Infrastructure Planning & Engineering

CIBC - SVP & CIO, Retail and Business Banking Technology

CIBC Mellon - AVP, Enterprise Architecture

CIBC Mellon - SVP & CIO

Cineplex Entertainment - CTO

City of Brampton - Senior Manager, IT Architecture & Planning

City of Richmond Hill - CIO

City of Toronto - Director of Strategic Planning & Architecture

CN Rail Service - Chief Information Security Officer

Coast Capital Savings - VP Technology

Concordia University - AVP & CIO

Crescent Point Energy - Head of IT

Dairy Farmers of Ontario - Head of IT and Administration

Dale Parizeau Morris Mackenzie - VP, IT

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP - Director, Information Technology

DealerTrack Canada - Director, Technology

Defence Construction Canada - Corporate Manager, IT

Deloitte - Director, Risk Advisory

Dentons - Canada CIO

Devon Energy - Director, Integrated Business Services

Direct Cash - VP IT & Security

Dynamic Tire Corp - CIO

D+H Partnership - VP, Head of Canadian Mortgage Technology

eHealth - EVP, Technology

eHealth Ontario - VP, IT Systems & Services

Encana - Director, InfoSec

Enbridge Inc. - VP, Technology and Information Services

Enerflex - CIO

Enerplus - VP. IS


Equity Financial Trust - VP, IT

Essential Energy Services - Director, IT

Expedia Cruise Ship Centers - VP IS

FGL Sports - VP, Information Technology

Finastra - SVP, Head Technology Managed Services

Fix Auto Canada - COO & SVP - CIO

Freedom Mobile - Head, Customer Applications, Experience, & Strategy

FT Services - CIO

FundServ - CIO

Genus Capital Management - CTO

Genworth Financial Inc. - VP IT

Golder Associates - CTO

Gran Tierra Energy - Director IT

Grant Thornton LLP - CIO

Greenwin Inc - VP, Information Technology

Groupe Dynamite - Director, IT

GSK Canada - IT Director

GTAA - Acting CIO

H&R Block Canada - VP IT

Haventree Bank - VP, Technology

Hewitt Equipment Ltd. - VP & CIO

Hitachi Vantara - GVP & Global CTO

Home Trust Company - CIO

Home Trust Company - CTO

Home Trust Company - VP & CISO

Horizon North Logistics - CIO

IBM Canada - Associate Partner, Payments Industry

Indigo Books and Music - CIO

ivari - SVP & CIO

JP Morgan Chase Canada - Executive Director, Information Risk Management

Keyera Energy - Director, Information Technology

KnowledgeOne - CIO

LaFarge Canada - Director, IT

Landmark Cinemas Canada - VP, IT

LCBO - Director, Applications Systems


Leisureworld Senior Care Corp - VP IS

Lightstream Resources - Head, Information Services

London Drugs - GM IT

Loto-Quebec - Corporate Director, InfoSec

Magna International Inc - VP & Global Leader, IT (CIO)

Manulife - Global Head of Private Markets & Real Estate Technology

March Networks - VP Professional Services & CIO

MaRS Discovery District - Managing Director, Fintech and Commerce

McCain Foods Limited - Manager InfoSec

McInnis Cement - Director of Information Technology

Medical Pharmacies Group - VP, Information Technology

MEG Energy - Manager, Information Technology Solutions & Services

MMM Group - CIO

Montreal Police Service - CIO

Morguard Investments - CIO

Moulding & Millwork - CIO

National Bank of Canada - Information Security Officer

National Capital Commission - Chief, IT infrastructure & Support Services

NHL Players' Association - Head, Security & Technology

Northbridge Financial Corp - CIO

OEC Group Canada - Vice President, Information Technology and Client solutions

Oildex - VP, Architecture & Infrastructure

Olympia Financial Group - CIO

OMERS - EVP, Data & Technology


Ontario Pension Board - CTO

Ontario Trillium Foundation - CIO

Osum Oil Sands Corp - Manager, IS

Ottawa Police Service - CIO

Pacific Western Transportation - CIO

Packers Plus - Global IT Director

Pason Systems - Manager, Digital Communications & Corporate IT

Patient News - CTO

Peel District School Board - CIO

Pengrowth Corp - Director IS

Penn West Exploration - Snr. Manager, IT Operations

Peterson Investment Group - Head of IT

PFB Corp. - CIO

Pizza Pizza - CIO & VP, IT

Precision Drilling - VP, IT

Precision Drilling - Director, IT Infrastructure & Security

PSP Investments - Snr. Director, Internal Audit & Business Infosec

Public Works and Government Services Canada - Director, IT Security Directorate

PwC - Managing Director, Real Estate Technology Advisory

Qantas - Global CIO

Queen's University - Director, Information Technology

RBC Royal Bank - Head of Application Security, Data Protection & Security Consulting

Regal Lifestyle Communities - CIO

Revera Inc. - CIO

Revera Inc. - Security Architect

Ricoh Canada - VP,IT

RioCan Property Services - VP IT

Roche - Head of IT Americas – Operations

Rogers Communications - SVP, Customer Experience IT


Russel Metals - VP,IS

Scotiabank - Head, Systems Architecture & Platform Modernization

Scotiabank - VP - International Systems Technology

Scotiabank - Head, System Architecture & Platform Modernization

Scotiabank - Global Head, GBM Compliance & Transformation

Sears Canada - Divisional VP, Information Technology Services

Secure Energy Services - GM, IT

Shaw - Head, Customer Applications, Experience, & Strategy

Shaw Communications - VP, Technology Operations

Shaw Communications - Director, Risk Management

SMART Technologies - Director, IS Corporate Services

Smartcentres - Director IS, IT

SmartOne Solutions - President & CIO

Societe de Transport de Montreal - Division Head - Security and Compliance

Street Capital Financial - CIO

Sun Life Financial - AVP, Data & Business Intelligence Services

Sun Life Financial - VP Application Ops & Services

Suncor Energy Inc. - Director, Application Portfolio Optimization, I&PM, Business Services

Symcor - CTO, VP Technology Services

Talisman Energy - SVP IT & Business Services

TD Bank - Enterprise Architect

Teknion - SVP, CIO

TELUS - Chief Security Architect

Tervita Corporation - VP, Information Technology

The Hudsons Bay Company - VP Technology

The Hudson's Bay Company - SVP & CIO

The Source - VP, Information Technology

TMX Group - CISO & Global Head of Infrastructure Services

Toromont Industries - VP & CIO

Toronto District School Board - Chief Technology Officer

Toronto Hospital for Sick Children - Director of Technology

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) - Chief Enterprise Architect

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) - CIO

Toyota Canada - National Manager, IS

Transamerica Life Canada - CIO

Trican Well Services Ltd. - Director, Business Information Systems

Tridel Corporation - CIO

Trillium Health Partners - IT Director, Applications & Clinical Informatics

UFA Cooperative - VP & CIO

University of Calgary - Executive Director, Development Services

University of Ottawa - CIO

University of Ottawa - Senior Director IT Services & Infrastructure

University of Toronto - Director, Centre for Management & Technology

University of Waterloo - Director, Technology Entrepreneurship

Vancity - VP Technology & Solutions

Viterra - Director Enterprise Technology

Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company - Director of Innovation Outpost

World Health - Director IT

Wolseley Canada - CIO & COO

Yellow Pages Group - Director - Enterprise Data Management

York Region District School Board - CIO

Leadership Archive