Thoughts from the CIOs of the Year

The CIO of the Year Awards wrapped up last week, highlighting chief information officers’ accomplishments over the past year. 

The were five awards presented; the winners were:
  • Matt Pedalino, CIO of Harrison Pensa LLP: Next Generation Leader of 2022
  • Mazen Joukhadar, vice president and CIO of Transform Shared Service Organization: 2022 Not-for-Profit CIO of the Year 
  • Mohammad Qureshi, CCIO and associate deputy Minister at the Ontario Government: 2022 Public Sector CIO of the year
  • Rex Lee, CIO of Canadian Tire Corp.: 2022 Private Sector CIO of the year
  • Julie Levesque CIO and executive VP of operations at Banque Nationale du Canada: 2022 Private Sector CIO of the Year
Here is what some of the winners and members of the CIO Association of Canada had to say about their accomplishments and the work that went into them:

Mohammad Qureshi: a team effort

CIO of the Year interview with Mohammad Qureshi.

Within Government Information Technology Ontario (GovTechON), Mohammad Qureshi leads an organization of over 4,000 technologists to power the Government of Ontario’s goal to be the leading digital jurisdiction.

In accepting his award, Qureshi credited a lot of the hard work over the past two years to his team. 

“I feel like the team should really be accepting this award instead of me. They did a lot of hard work, they really hit it out of the ballpark… Doing the work during the pandemic, they really brought their A game,” he said. 

During the pandemic, Qureshi led a team that implemented the development of and stood up several contact centres to support Ontarians. These include “Stop the Spread” hotline, the vaccine booking line and the “Ontario Together” portal.

Going into the post-pandemic era, Qureshi said the next steps are to focus on working with the government on opening back the economy and rebooting Ontario. 

Rex Lee: facing challenges in the pandemic

CIO of the Year interview with Rex Lee.

Rex Lee and his team were responsible for rebuilding the Canadian Tire Retail e-commerce platform so that it could go from handling 5,000 orders per day before the pandemic to 120,000 per day during the height of the pandemic lockdowns.

Two years worth of work was done in just six weeks and resulted in Canadian Tire Corporation e-commerce growth of 30 per cent, reaching C$2 billion last year.

Lee said he and his team did “the impossible” during the height of the pandemic. 

“We had cases where no revenue was coming into the company, stores were shut down, e-commerce couldn’t handle the massive load that it was taking on. Being the face of great people wanting to do great things has been wonderful and I feel very privileged and lucky to get to represent that,” he said.

Lee said one of the bigger challenges he and his team faced this year was trying to find a solution to seamlessly operate the technology the company needed to thrive. 

“The entire company is depending on technology to operate, to be able to pay bills, to keep the lights on, and [if] it’s not working—that’s a huge amount of pressure,” Lee said. “Everybody jumps in, regardless of their official title or official role. Everybody’s united and aligned and we had to solve problems that were ‘unsolvable’, and the teams figured it out.”

Philippe Johnston: back to in-person events

CIO of the Year interview with Philippe Johnston.

Philippe Johnston, chief information officer of the National Research Council and president of the CIO Association of Canada, said after the cessation of in person events due to the pandemic, being able to start them again is a step in the right direction.

“Our secret sauce for the association has been events like we’re doing today [CIO Awards], which is meeting in person and exchanging ideas. And so we haven’t been able to do that in person, so like everybody else, we’ve been doing these virtually.”

However, while the organization was able to adjust and shift into online events, to make it work for the situation, Johnston said they are slowly moving forward.

“We’re really looking forward to having more of these types of things across the country over the next few years. It’s definitely nice to see people again.”

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Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at [email protected]

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