A conversation with IBM Canada president Dave McCann: It’s all about the people

For IBM Canada‘s new president, Dave McCann, it’s all about the people.

“I’ve always been a very people-focused leader inside the IBM company,” he said in an interview. “And there’s really two very important ingredients to our success. Number one, that’s our clients, and equally so our employees, especially with what all of our clients and our employees have been going through over the last few years as we continue to navigate the uncertainty of this pandemic. And that will be the core and heart of my effort, both as the managing partner for consulting business, and as the president of IBM Canada.”

IBM Canada president Dave McCann | Source: IBM Canada

McCann took over the post on Jan. 17, in addition to his job as managing partner of IBM Consulting Canada, after former president Claude Guay accepted a global role as managing partner, Global Ventures, Ecosystem and Acquisitions.

But he’s unfazed by his extra role.

“It’s totally natural,” he said. “As leader of the IBM consulting business in Canada, a big part of what I’ve been doing has been many of the functions that you would do in parallel with the president’s office. That sort of partnership mentality will continue to be at the forefront of how we operate in Canada, going forward with Frank Attaie, who leads our IBM technology business. In the new IBM model, Frank leading IBM technology, myself leading IBM consulting, together we will be each other’s number one partners, working together with our clients across the country. I think it’ll be extremely natural, and I think it’s something that our clients will also see is very natural.”

Despite being new to the job, he’s already developed a roadmap, which includes maintaining IBM Canada’s growth as well as working with partners to make an impact on society, both around innovation and sustainability, and the environment.

The skills market is a hot topic, he noted, and he’s committed to both growing talent and offering jobs that attract the most talented applicants.

“I very much always focused on building a professional family,” he said. “And what’s at the heart of having a professional family, in my opinion, is having each other’s backs. In creating a culture where people take care of each other, and people help each other, and people have each other’s backs. And I think as you look to the world we’re living in, the time we’re living in, that world, what people are expecting in the marketplace, I think an employer that is truly human and focused on their people, both clients and employees, in a way that’s driving that ‘having your back’ culture, I think that’s really meaningful.”

Technology-wise, McCann has several priority areas: cybersecurity, cloud, data governance, sustainability, and skills gap. But, he said, the foundational technologies that underpin all this are hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI).

“AI is extremely real and being used to solve problems across the country,” he said. “It’s no longer something that customers are talking about or learning about, it’s something that’s very much at the heart of much of what our clients are doing today.”

The data governance business is also flourishing, he noted, as IBM helps customers meet the various governance and data regulations across the country. He’s also focused on driving innovation in the Canadian marketplace, while having a positive effect on the environment. But his bottom line is still the people.

“We run a people-based company,” he said. “Both our clients and our employees, they’re at the heart of our strategy. They’re the first thing we think about when we wake up and work in the morning, and the last thing every night. And if you look at the pandemic, our number one goal is to make sure that we continue to keep that team safe and healthy, and at the same time, grow that team and grow that team in a way that we continue to grow.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner has been interpreting tech for businesses for over 20 years and has worked in the industry as well as writing about it, giving her a unique perspective into the issues companies face. She has both IT credentials and a business degree.

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