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

Three Resolutions for the Pragmatic CIO

It’s still early enough in the new year to make some resolutions, if you haven’t already done so. Your personal resolutions are your own business, so I’m not going to encourage you to go on a butt-reduction regime – either ciggies or posterior.

As I’ve been closely connected to the CIO community for two decades, I can, however, advise on your workplace resolutions. Here are a few that are guaranteed to make your life as a CIO happier, healthier, or a little less onerous.

Resolution 1: Make Succession Planning a Priority

You know in your heart of hearts that there’s no one inside or outside of the company that can do the job of CIO as well as you. Still, you owe it to the company to prepare it for your departure. Of course, how you prepare it depends on how they’ve treated you over the years.


Key Conversations for IT Executives

2014 was a great year for The IT Media Group – our best ever – and that means it was also a banner year for Canadian IT executives when it came to sharing best practices, expanding personal networks and gaining insights from world-class experts in their field.

A wealth of content came out of our many events across Canada, much of which is available on the ITMG web site in written form in our Events section and video form in our Video section. I highly recommend spending some time in both of these sections, where you will find peer-generated content on a wide variety of topics including: Cloud, Big Data, innovation, security, mobility, governance, BYOD, social media, working with the business, and the list goes on.

As we close the year, allow me to point you to a few conversations from our 2014 events that particularly resonated with us and with the IT executives who attended these sessions. They should give you plenty of food for thought for the coming year.


The Greatest CIO Interview of All Time

Most interesting CIO





He fixed a catastrophic mainframe failure with the pointy end of a rat-tail comb.

He refereed an arm-wrestling contest between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

He was a moustache double for Tom Selleck during season four of Magnum PI.

He correctly texted the Declaration of Independence while running with the bulls at Pamplona.

He is… “The Most Interesting CIO in the World”.

It is doubtful that there is anyone in IT today who is not familiar with the exploits, accomplishments, intrigues and affaires of The Most Interesting CIO in the World. His brash – some would say swashbuckling – approach to IT management, as technology head of three of the world’s leading organizations, is the stuff of legend.


Important CIO conversations for 2014

As changes to enterprise IT tend to be more evolutionary than revolutionary, we don’t expect 2014 to be radically different than last year for CIOs. But there are some areas that we believe will garner more attention, and that CIOs should pay close attention to. Here’s our take on some important CIO conversations for 2014:

The security conversation. The data breach at Target, the U.S.’s third largest retailer, in late November/early December of 2013, resulting in the exposure of up to 40 million customer credit and debit card numbers, will be a wake-up call for C-suite executives across North America and around the world.To date, this is the most visible data breach we’ve seen, and its impact was immediate, resulting in a drop of three to four percent in the number of transactions at Target on the final weekend before Christmas, according to Bloomberg. As well, Target shares fell three percent in the weeks following the breach. And at time of writing, there was talk of a customer class-action suit being launched against Target as well.


Not another poke in the ‘I’ for the CIO

There’s an epidemic of proposals for a change in the CIO title that’s driving me nuts. Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Integration Officer, Chief Interaction Officer and others, all intended to place a different emphasis on the mandate of IT leadership.

I understand that in using different meanings of the ‘I’ in CIO, pundits are using it to make their point that CIOs should now focus on Innovation or Interaction or whatever bandwagon they’ve jumped on. Indeed, there are legitimate arguments to be made for each, but they are all so narrowly focused that they ignore a broad range of IT leadership responsibilities of equal importance.


Message to management: stop snubbing your CIO

I’ve come to know a great many CIOs over the 20-odd years that I’ve been writing content for the IT executive community in Canada. And quite often when I’m on a company’s web site I’ll check the management team section to find out who the CIO is and whether or not it’s someone I know.

And it’s a source of continual amazement to me how often CIOs are left off the management team list. Doesn’t seem to matter what type of business it is – all industries are more or less equal offenders when it comes to snubbing their CIOs. Try doing a straw poll of company web sites yourself and see what I mean. You’ll probably find that around half the companies you visit have an invisible CIO.


Stop poking the CIO in the I

Pity the poor CIO. Seems like every time you turn around, somebody’s trying to poke his or her ‘I’ out.

The once venerable title Chief Information Officer is now passé – no longer suitable, according to the pundits. These days it’s all about innovation; it must be Chief Innovation Officer. Or it’s all about intelligence; it must be Chief Intelligence Officer. I’ve even heard Chief Imagination Officer, which should only be allowed if you work for The Walt Disney Company.

My Concise Oxford Dictionary has 46 pages of I’s, so this could go on forever.

In order to save us a little time, allow me to cut to the chase and offer up the best new titles for CIO that are likely to emerge over the next decade or so. That way we can play with them now, quickly grow tired of them, and get back to good old Chief Information Officer.

For fun, see which of the following titles fits you best.


The lottery plan for IT organizations

If I won the lottery, I would move my entire family to Disney World, permanently. My plan is simple: give away and sell all my worldly possessions, from my socks to my house, and recreate a new life in the happiest place on earth.

I would prepay for decades of a complete vacation package in a Magic Kingdom view resort room, with a connected room for the kids. For transportation, WDW would provide busses, boats, and monorails to any location, all included. For food, the included deluxe dining plan would offer me three meals and two snacks per day in hundreds of locations in the 40+ square mile district. I think the entertainment is obvious, however I would likely get the platinum package with park hopper and waterparks to maximize the number options in any one day. For clothing, well, onsite merchandising is unprecedented.


CIO Careers: The power of personal connection

Career networkingA couple of weeks ago, a CIO and long-time friend of mine sent me an email, letting me know that he’s looking to change jobs after 15 years with the same firm. He knew that I was well connected with the CIO community in Canada and hoped I might be able to help him with his job search.

Good call on his part. As it turned out, I did know of a couple of IT executives on the move and was able to broker a meeting between my friend and one of those departing CIOs. As for the other, his job had already been filled internally.

My friend just emailed to tell me the meeting went great and thanking me for putting him in touch with “an excellent resource and even better person”. Knowing my friend, I’m sure the meeting was mutually beneficial.


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.


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

Avison Young - VP Global Enterprise Architecture & Integration

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


BFL CANADA - Director, Cybersecurity & IT Risk Management

Black Press - CTO

BlackBerry - VP Corporate IT

BMO Financial Group - Director, Technology & Operations Transformation

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 Goose - CTO

Canada Live - VP of Technology

Canada Mortgage and Housing - VP, Information & Technology

Canada Protection Plan - Head of IT

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

CBI Health Group - CIO

CCS Corp. - VP IT

CDSPI - Board Director

Centerra Gold - Director IT & Comm

CI Global Asset Management - VP of Enterprise Infrastructure $amp; Operations

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

Colliers - Head of Technology & Data

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


Equitable Bank - CIO

Equitable Bank - CISO

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

Geotab - Board Member

Golder Associates - CTO

Gran Tierra Energy - Director IT

Grant Thornton LLP - CIO

Grand River Hospital - Director, Data Governance & Analytics

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

HSB Canada - VP IT

IBM Canada - Associate Partner, Payments Industry

Indigo Books and Music - CIO

Interac Corp - Director, Platform Engineering

ivari - SVP & CIO

JP Morgan Chase Canada - Executive Director, Information Risk Management

Keyera Energy - Director, Information Technology

KFC Canada - CTO

KnowledgeOne - CIO

LaFarge Canada - Director, IT

Landmark Cinemas Canada - VP, IT


LCBO - Director, Applications Systems


Leisureworld Senior Care Corp - VP IS

Lifeguard Digital Health - Chief Security & Informatics Officer

Loblaw Companies Ltd - Senior Director, Customer Engagement Technology

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

Metrolinx - EVP & CIO

Minto Group - VP IT

MMM Group - CIO

Montreal Police Service - CIO

Morguard Investments - CIO

Moulding & Millwork - CIO

MullenLowe Group - Global 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

OPTrust - AVP, Enterprise Data Services

Olympia Financial Group - CIO

OMERS - EVP, Data & Technology


OMERS - SVP, Data & Advanced Analytics

Ontario Pension Board - CTO

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan - SVP, Product & Delivery

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

Pythian - CTO

Qantas - Global CIO

Queen's University - Director, Information Technology

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

RBC Royal Bank - VP, Technology Platforms & Risk Management

RBC Royal Bank - Global Cybersecurity VP

Regal Lifestyle Communities - CIO

Revera Inc. - CIO

Revera Inc. - Security Architect

Rheem Manufacturing - CISO & Enterprise 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

Salvation Army Canada - Board Director

SCI Group - CIO

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

Sunco Communication - COO

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 Parking Authority - CIO

Toronto Police Services - CISO

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

Valencia Risk - Managing Director

Vancity - VP Technology & Solutions

Viterra - Director Enterprise Technology

Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company - Director of Innovation Outpost

World Health - Director IT

Wolseley Canada - CIO & COO

WSIB - Board Director

Yellow Pages Group - Director - Enterprise Data Management

York Region District School Board - CIO

York University - Board Director

Leadership Archive