Former colleague remembers Mark Vale

Mark Vale was not only a font of information for industry standards in information management, he was also a key asset in Ontario’s ministry of government services. In 2006, deputy minister of government services, Ron McKerlie, hired Vale as the Ontario government’s first ever CIO.

McKerlie remembers a lot about him, most of all being the fact that, for such a bright guy, he was incredibly down to earth.

Vale, the Ontario government’s first CIO, died on August 12.

“He did a great job in terms of educating people to think about information differently, think about it as you’re creating it and think about what that information would need to do in terms of taking on a life or a death of its own as it flowed forward,” McKerlie said.

McKerlie also said that Vale’s knowledge of social media and instant messaging tools led to initiatives even more important to the government’s growth. Vale helped the government in “thinking about that transfer of knowledge and how knowledge gets created in a way that can be transferred to others easily. That got us into using some of the social media tools that we use (now). OPSpedia was one of those tools that, (while it) wasn’t Mark’s idea, the ideas he created and left us with were developed here, and were the genesis for using OPSpedia, a Wikipedia-type service but unique and inside of our firewalls, where we can create and share knowledge.”

McKerlie said that Vale wanted government employees to stop saving every piece of data that crossed their desks and become more aware of the lifecycle of information. Some information, pertaining to critical business decisions, is worth keeping forever. Other information, which McKerlie said Vale helped them recognize and categorize at its inception, needn’t be saved.

“He did a very similar thing around privacy. He got us to think about a level of privacy – low, medium and high, he kept it simple for us – that should be attached to information as it’s developed and that was incredibly useful. (It shows) his practicalness in everything he did,” McKerlie said.

“I think that will be his biggest legacy; it’s just the culture shift that he started in the organization. Before that, I don’t think people really thought, to be honest, about what they were creating, so everything got saved because you never knew what it was going to be used for, not whether it was important or not. He really helped us sift and sort through the useful from the mundane and think about that when we were creating it. I think that will be a big part of his legacy,” McKerlie said.

McKerlie said “some people had the theory and some people had the practices but he was the one that put it all together.”

On a personal note, McKerlie said “Mark was an easy guy to get to like. He was jovial, he smiled, he used to laugh a lot. He enjoyed life and he brought that joy into the workplace.”