A recipe for rising to the top

Cream is the preferred base for curry aficionados because once it’s heated, the oil separates, and it is better able to absorb the curry paste.In the cooking scenario, heat is the catalyst to produce a perfect curry. But is heat an effective ingredient in creating an IT leader?
No doubt the winners of Computing Canada’s IT Leadership Awards (see profiles beginning on page 18) have endured many heated moments throughout their their careers. But these seasoned professionals have all managed to walk through the fire and come out the other side — more than once.
Take Ben Grebinski, CC’s IT Executive of the Year. When he took over as superintendent of technology for the Regina Catholic Schools, he inherited a mish-mash of disparate systems that made it difficult for students to experience the power of technology. Grebinski rolled up his sleeves, assembled a team and proceeded with an extreme makeover of the district’s technology infrastructure. The result was a state-of-the-art environment with standardized hardware and software, along with tiered help-desks, secure remote access and a new student information system.
Janet Irwin, CC’s IT Manager of the Year, knows a thing or two about fighting fires. When she led her team in a project to digitize a paper-based system at Ontario’s Ministry of Health, she had to walk across the hot coals of four departments to come up with a workflow system to serve everyone. It’s clear Irwin has won the respect of her team: Since she joined the ministry in 1987, she’s had only one employee leave.
Susan Dineen doesn’t dwell on the hot spots of her career. Instead, CC’s IT Mentor of the Year focuses her attention on encouraging IT professionals to reach their potential, which Dineen says is a different journey for every person. She offers mentoring to next-generation IT and telecom protégés because she believes it’s important to give back to the industry that has given her a successful career.
Greg Brownless felt some heat when he tried to sell his former company, Vita-Tech Canada Inc., on a CRM system. But CC’s IT Champion of the Year’s persistence paid off when he secured buy-in from the executive team, a critical component for project success, says Brownless.
By their very natures, IT projects are hot potatoes, with obstacles such as scope creep and hidden agendas often causing project failure. CC’s Project Team of the Year, led by RBC Financial’s Dennis McPeak and Stephen Caldwell, was well-prepared for all of it when they undertook the amalgamation of all of its subsidiaries general ledgers into one product.
Stephen Ibaraki is the kind of person who runs directly into the fire, knowing there will be some good coming from the experience. During the course of his career as consultant, mentor, teacher and writer, CC’s Lifetime Achievement honoree often worked 20 hours a day, seven days a week to advance the agenda of Canada’s high-tech industry.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Computing Canada’s IT Leaders of 2005. Please write to us at ccedit@itbusiness.ca.
Happy holidays, and all that jazz.

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