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A man who has lead technology strategy for the country’s largest retailer and now a major telecom firm is poised to lead the CIO Association of Canada’s efforts around membership and advocacy.

Gary Davenport, vice-president of IT at Allstream, was announced as president-elect of CIOCAN late last week. He will take over from Andrew Dillane, Group CIO of Randstad Canada, as the third president in the association’s young history.

CIOCAN is a not-for-profit organization that offers a number of networking opportunities for senior IT executives, including monthly meetings and its annual Peer Forum, which was recently held in Vancouver. With more than 250 members, the association has chapters in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Ontario. (IT World Canada is among CIOCAN’s media partners.)

Davenport, who worked for years at the Hudson’s Bay Co. before joining Allstream in 2006, told CIO Canada the association’s board of directors are focused on three goals. These include increasing the value of being a CIOCAN member, improving operations and driving the influence of the association throughout the Canadian IT industry.

“We represent many different sectors, which means we can leverage not only generic knowledge of CIOs but industry knowledge,” he said, adding that the Peer Forum’s theme of “Creating C-level Syngery” is an example of how the role of the CIO is evolving. “The notion of the CIOs being at the table – that’s not as much of an issue from my perspective these days. It’s how do we increase our influence beyond the mechanics of running the business?”

Though CIOCAN has been active in discussions with similar associations outside the country such as Russian CIO, Euro CIO and CIOs in China, Davenport said the group’s emphasis will continue to be on the local market, identifying opportunities to add more chapters.

“Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal would be obvious targets,” he said.

At Allstream, Davenport said he has been concentrating on a major business process improvement initiative that has involved opening a centre of excellence and preparing for a more over-arching business transformation project that will include renovating some of its back-office technology. These on-the-job experiences are what excite him about working with the association, he said.

“My first career was in retail, the second is in telecom. Even though they’re very different, the challenges that CIOs face are absolutely the same,” he said. “The only thing that really changes are the acronyms – you have to figure out what people are talking about.”

Under Dillane, CIOCAN rapidly increased its membership and developed a research program that explored the potential career path of senior IT executives to CEO roles. This, along with the work of founding president Catherine Boivie, offers a strong foundation to build upon, Davenport said.

“I get a lot of energy with dealing with the external world in terms of ideas and new thinking,” he said. “Underneath all this is I really believe in the role overall, and I believe in driving it. I want to give back what I’ve been given.”



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