CIO Summit program evolves into ‘Leaders Beyond’

What began as a conference for Canadian CIOs and evolved into a highly respected training and development program for IT executives is rebranding with an expanded focus to other business leadership roles on an international level.

Leaders Beyond, formerly known as the CIO Summit, will be formally launching this month as it accepts registrations for its new, four-day Emerging IT Leader Program in Toronto on Nov. 12-15th. The 10-day IT Executive leadership program, which has been training CIOs for the past decade, will run Jan. 21-25, 2013. Registration is open for those interested.

While the CIO Summit has been described as an MBA-level program for IT managers and directors who wanted to propel their career, the Emerging IT Leader Program is aimed at those in earlier stages or who may come from a more traditional business function. The need for greater education across both line of business departments as well as IT was among the reasons the CIO Summit has morphed into Leaders Beyond, explained Barry Clavir, its co-founder and managing partner.

“The name changes, but the core value of what we do remains the same,” said Clavir. “We’re building an intelligence capability within organizations to understand the relationship between IT and business.”

A key precept of the CIO Summit has been the fact that it is taught not by academics but actual people who work in an IT executive role. That will continue as well, Clavir said, but the Leaders Beyond brand offers far broader scope to build on its success. Future areas of training will include sales leadership, for example, as well as IT-business partnerships.

As part of the transition to Leaders Beyond, Clavir has partnered with Renah Persofsky, executive consultant for new business ventures at CIBC and who has been involved in numerous startup initiatives, including Canada Post’s e-Post and Dexit. She said she was impressed by the CIO Summit’s track record and that it seemed like the kind of organization that has what it takes to grow much larger.

“Because they’ve had so many graduates who have been successful, there’s an ability now to get more people into the program just by word of mouth,” she said. “This has become a clear way of developing the people who are stars at your company.”

Craig Ballance, the longtime CIO Summit instructor who will act as Leaders Beyond’s program director, said executive training is more important for CIOs and their peers than ever before.

“Either through fate or failure, there’s a trend where lots of CIOs and IT leaders who were at the executive table have become either a disappointment or who are fading away from that again,” he said. “We’re seeing an increase to CIOs being re-attached to the COO or CFO reporting structure.”

Over the past nine years, the CIO Summit has worked with schools in Canada such as Ryerson University as partners, and Clavir said this would continue as part of Leaders Beyond’s international expansion. Persofsky said the team has already been in talks with schools in the U.K. and will be looking at the U.S. as well.

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