is in this odd position: She’s the spokesperson for the country’s biggest IT industry trade association who used to be a luddite.
“I was a technophobe,” admits the new chairman of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), which represents IT manufacturers, software companies and consulting firms.
“I was one of those classic people who said I will adopt technology with my last dying breath. I wrote all of my papers longhand in school.
“And while I was working in Japan (in 1994 for an English-language school) they Internet-ified our office and I saw a Yahoo Web page for the first time, and it literally (hit me): ‘That is the future.’ And was determined at that point I was going to work in technology.”
The road to being hungry for a career in technology and getting one was paved with … well, we’ll get to that shortly. It’s a funny story, says Evans.
Today, as CEO and chief strategist for Sequentia Environics, a digital communications consulting company now part of Environics Group, Evans speaks around the world on digital strategy.
Last month she succeeded Doug McCuaig, president of the Canadian division of CGI Group Inc., as the chair of ITAC.
Arguably best known for representing hefty names like IBM Canada, Microsoft Canada, Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, Evans says her term at ITAC will focus on broadening its membership.
“There is a really burgeoning and exciting startup culture that is emerging in Canada, particularly in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. And I would like to see those companies helping contribute to the dialogue on the national IT culture in addition to our more established members. As the entrepreneurial culture in Canada changes, ITAC membership is going to reflect that, and outreach to some of those smaller organizations is going to be a key part of what I’m going to be spending time on.”
In the short term, however, there’s work preparing for October’s World Congress of IT in Montreal, which ITAC is the host.
What worries her is what she calls the “hollowing effect” --- loss of Canadian companies on the verge of critical mass and scale. “We need to make sure we are giving younger, smaller companies that could come up one day to take the places of the RIMs and the Nortels what they need in Canada in order to do that and aren’t constantly being taken out by multinationals – not that that’s always a bad thing, of course. A lot of companies obviously get a lot of momentum from that. But we do have to be conscious of the fact that if we’re going to have a thriving technology industry in the country we do need an ecosystem that’s going to support that.”