Charaka Kithulegoda, senior vice-president and chief information officer of ING Direct Canada, was honoured with ComputerWorld Canada’s 2011 IT Leader of the Year Award in the large enterprise category for his work creating a comprehensive mobile platform for the bank.
Kithulegoda spearheaded a series of strategic initiatives to extend mobile functionality to ING clients. Rather than simply focussing on the more-popular iPhone and BlackBerry devices, his team created applications for the PlayBook, Windows Phone 7 and Android smart phones, making it the first bank in Canada – and until recently, the only bank in the world – to support all the major mobile platforms.
Kithulegoda stressed the importance of creating a team whose talents are greater than your own.
“It’s difficult sometimes to not let your ego get caught up in it and encourage your people to challenge you and not feel threatened by it,” Kithulegoda said. “Attracting those people is the biggest challenge.
That sentiment was also resonated with Larry Franks, winner of the IT Leader of the Year Award in the small and medium enterprise category.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned over 30-some years in this business is to hire the best people you can,” Franks said. “It’s always a very good result if you never worry about hiring someone smarter than you.”
Franks was recognized for his work delivering a network of 26,000 smart meters and supporting IT infrastructure for Peterborough Utilities Group, where he is vice-president of technology services.
While the IT Leader of the Year Awards recognize IT professionals who report to highest executive levels, the second annual ComputerWorld Canada IT Leadership Awards also recognized IT managers, mentors and educators.
Eric Swanson, data centre manager with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, received the IT Manager of the Year in the large enterprise category for his work on a data centre and intelligent containment project, which was recognized by the Uptime Institute in May as a world-class innovative approach to increase a data centre’s cooling efficiency. He said leadership can be found anywhere in the ranks of an organization.
“I know we’re focussed a lot on the senior folks and managers and CIOs, but I think one thing that’s really key is we all can exhibit leadership,” he said. “No matter where we are in the organization, we can all do things well and show leadership.”
Kalyan Chakravarthy, director of IT for the Toronto International Film Festival, was honoured as IT Manager of the Year in the SME category in his first stint with a small business, hailing from an enterprise IT background.