Ed Kilroy leaves IBM Canada for Symcor

Ed Kilroy will end a relationship with IBM that lasted more than 20 years when he steps down as president of the firm’s Canadian branch to become the CEO of business process outsourcing specialist Symcor Inc..

Staff were told of Kilroy’s departure Tuesday afternoon. He will join Symcor, based in Mississauga, on Jan. 10. Four years ago, Kilroy replaced former IBM Canada Ltd. president and CEO John Wetmore, who was promoted to vice-president of IBM.com, IBM Americas. A North Bay, Ont., native, Kilroy climbed the ranks after joining Big Blue in 1982, including a stint as general manager of its e-commerce software solutions division.

“”In the announcement that was made this afternoon, Mike Daniels, the general manager for IBM Americas, said a replacement will be made shortly,”” said IBM spokesman Mike Quinn.

Kilroy could not be reached for comment at press time.

Robert Turner, Symcor’s senior vice-president of human resources, said the company had contracted recruiting specialist Korn Ferry to find a new leader. Symcor’s last CEO, Paul Currie, left in 2003 to pursue other interests, and Turner said the board of directors took most of last year to determine its long-term direction, while Dennis Maloney, Symcor’s COO, managed daily operations.

“”We were looking, first and foremost, for leadership,”” Turner said. “”We were also looking for someone who would have credibility with existing shareholders, and Ed’s got that.””

Symcor, which is jointly owned by RBC, BMO and TD Bank Financial Serivces, is trying to make its mark in the business process outsourcing (BPO) market, in which corporate enterprises hand over non-core IT-enabled functions to third parties. Last year, for example, RBC said it was using imaging equipment and archiving services from Symcor as part of its move to digital cheque clearing. Symcor also recently announced it has signed a long-term agreement with RBC Financial Group to provide image-based automated teller machine (ATM) deposit processing services across Canada. RBC is a close partner with IBM as well, turning to Big Blue for consulting expertise after a software glitch snarled its IT infrastructure.

Kilroy initially made his mark at IBM by growing its Global Services unit, first in Canada and then in Australia. Turner said Kilroy’s extensive BPO expertise and his experience in running U.S. operations made him the leading candidate.

“”I think he was surprised,”” Turner said. “”We approached him, he didn’t approach us.””

Quinn said IBM’s senior management has not indicated whether the company will appoint a member of its existing team or will look elsewhere.

“”As far back as I can remember, it’s been someone internal,”” he said.

Symcor’s Maloney will stay on in his current role, Turner said, and has already written an e-mail to staff endorsing Kilroy’s appointment. “”Trying to get an Ed Kilroy was a long discussion,”” he said.

Kilroy has been credited with helping revive IBM’s Toronto Software Lab, which nearly closed in the late 1990s until Industry Canada invested $33 million through the federal government’s Technology Partnerships program. The lab has since become the home for a number of high-profile projects, including the development of integration centres for customers running DB2 on SAP, HP, Sun, Peoplesoft or Siebel products. Last month, Kilroy ranked No. 8 on CDN’s annual list of Newsmakers of the Year.

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