The CIO Association of Canada, or CIOCAN, is a self-managed, not-for-profit community of IT leaders whose mission is to facilitate networking, sharing of best practices and executive development, and to drive advocacy on issues facing IT executives and CIOs. The newest chapter is in Ottawa.
Late in 2012, Jim Williams, director of information services at A&W Food Services of Canada and director of membership and chapter development at CIOCAN, initiated exploratory conversations with local IT executives from the network of contacts he had established in the area. He was encouraged by the positive reaction, and became convinced following the success of an initial networking event in February that attracted about 30 participants to an information session hosted at the Royal Mint. It became clear that the National Capital region was ready. The Ottawa Chapter was officially established in May 2013.
Some of the early organizers were invited to form a chapter board. The chapter board members quickly began to network with their colleagues on the national board, as well as with their counterparts in other chapter boards across the country. The support was excellent, not surprising since the network consists of members that are established, successful leaders and experienced IT executives.
The first official event was a networking breakfast in June. The CIO of the government of Canada, Corinne Charette, was the guest speaker. Those who know her were not at all surprised that after a brief introduction, she scanned the room, glanced at her prepared notes, set them aside and proceeded to deliver a compelling message to a mixed crowd of private and public sector IT executives.
She reminded those present that to be successful, they need to earn a seat at the management table. To deliver optimal value they need to be an equal partner in forwarding and supporting enterprise strategies. More directly, and addressing the very principles that brought the chapter together for this inaugural meeting, her message emphasized the importance of networks, relationships, engaging, finding synergies and leveraging efforts, sharing knowledge and experience, all with the objective of driving innovation, effectiveness and efficiency. Be prepared, she said, for more consolidation, more enterprise-level, “ruthless” standardization and more “as-a-service” approaches to commoditizing IT service and solution delivery. Her words were reported, blogged and tweeted extensively.
A recurring feature was introduced at the meeting under the banner “Member Communication & Collaboration,” or “MC squared.” In this segment one or two members take five minutes at the podium for an elevator pitch to introduce any subject of interest to them for exploration off line. At this inaugural event, CIOCAN member Jacques Latour, director of information technology with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, took the podium to further engage members in a discussion regarding the looming challenges with IPV6 readiness.
During the summer “break” the board planned a fall/winter agenda focusing on engaging members and local executives at networking events through February 2014. These events cover contemporary topics of interest to the membership, such as perspectives on large scale transformation with featured guest speaker Benoit Long, senior assistant deputy minister, Transformation, Shared Services Canada. Workplace renewal/workspace evolution and the perspectives of organization CEOs on leadership of successful transformational digital initiatives will be themes addressed at November 2013 and February 2014 networking events.
Member suggestions are always welcome. The “MC squared” segment of our networking events, however, is completely member-driven: at the September meeting, Mazin Abou-Seido, director of finance for the Ottawa chapter and director of IT for Halogen Software, shared valuable insights into enabling a global business.
Note that CIOCAN Ottawa Chapter Breakfast Networking events are free, but available only to CIOCAN members and senior IT executives that qualify for membership. Fall/winter sessions will see the board organizing some member-only tours and knowledge sessions, as well.
Through programming emphasizing learning, competency development and sharing of knowledge and experience across an engaged network of senior IT executives and with other strategic partners, the Ottawa chapter hopes to define a program for members that resembles more a curriculum than a forward agenda, and to position a membership in the association as an efficient, convenient and cost effective addition to the professional development plans of local senior IT leaders and their seconds in command.