Tales of a project management veteran

Consultant Loren Hicks sees himself as a risk-taker who thrives on uncertainty. And he’s had several careers to prove it.

Currently the director general of covert operations at Toronto-based consulting firm Visioneering Partners Inc., Hicks has held such multifarious titles as gunsmith, social worker, forklift driver and university lecturer. His “accidental and opportunistic” foray into IT began in the ’70s when he graduated with a business degree from Montreal’s McGill University MIS program.

“I fell in love with computers somewhere in there,” he remembers. “And then I did my requisite piece of time in a huge organization writing programs of no importance for systems that were meaningless. But I didn’t do that for very long.”

Hicks has spent the past two decades dividing his time between consulting and management, and said the “covert operations” in his title stems from the nature of consulting and project management. Both, he says, are often very tough sells that are largely misunderstood in the industry.

“Companies will pay to have something fixed, but they won’t pay to have it done properly in the first place – and it’s way more expensive to pay to have it fixed,” he said. “When I was a manager, I didn’t use consultants very much. And I regret that. It was the ego thing. But when I look back on it, I could have done a lot more if I had.”