Nine Canadian IT leaders have been selected as finalists in four categories in the CIO of the Year awards.

The awards program recognizes Canadian technology leaders who have demonstrated business and technological vision, entrepreneurship, a capacity to drive transformation and an ability to drive value. The awards are presented by CanadianCIO in partnership with the CIO Association of Canada (CIOCAN).

“We were impressed by the quality of the nominations from across Canada,” said Gary Davenport, a judge and CIOCAN’s past president. “It shines a light on the fact that CIOs are playing a critical business role in the success of their organizations.”

The finalists were selected from nominations solicited over the past 90 days. They were scrutinized by an independent panel of judges.  The awards will be presented during ITWC’s Digital Transformation Week conference on July 16 during a session dedicated to the CIO perspective.

Introducing the finalists

Here are the finalists in each of the four categories:

Private sector:

  • Jamshid Rezaei, CIO, Mitel. The secret to Rezaei’s success is his ability to turn “more” into “less.” He transformed the company’s operations by consolidating a myriad of systems into single platforms now used by all employees around the world.
  • Pierre Bonin, Vice-President & CIO, Videotron. In the past year, Bonin successfully implemented two new customer services after convincing his company to choose disruption over incremental change. In a short time, this has produced a better customer experience, higher revenues, fewer call centre calls and simpler business processes.
  • Marco Trecroce, CIO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. As the first ever CIO for the Four Seasons, Trecroce has taken the hotel chain’s IT from the dinosaur age to a “Digital Genius” ranking by Gartner in the past 10 years. During this time, the IT team delivered more than 110 global projects, improving guest satisfaction scores on the digital experience from three to 81 per cent.

Public Sector:

  • Kalyan Chakravarthy, CIO, Region of Durham. After joining the region as CIO, Chakravarthy quickly developed a new five-year road map, Digital Durham 2023. In just 18 months, he has fully moved the region from legacy systems to Office 365 and Windows 10, and led several innovative projects. This has already saved the region hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours.
  • Samantha Liscio, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, WSIB. Over the last 18 months, Liscio has led a transformation to build a robust technology infrastructure and a client-focused operating model. This made it possible for the WSIB to seamlessly move 4000 employees from 16 offices to working from home within a week after the COVID lockdown.

Non-Profit Sector:

  • Ricardo Basnayake, Board Director, MNS Malton Neighbourhood Services. Basnayake had the foresight to champion cloud and remote working strategies in his organization. As a result, the number of remote workers grew from 2 to over 100, and they didn’t miss a beat in delivering valuable community services when the pandemic hit.
  • Thomas Wardman, Vice President, Digital Transformation & CIO, The Royal Conservatory of Music. Over the last two years, Wardman has led a bottom-up technology transformation of this 135-year-old organization. His initiatives have saved costs, while boosting revenue and musical creativity.

Next Generation Leader:

  • Noman, Ahmed, Director of Technology, PACE Technical. Ahmed is a trail blazer for an IT service provider that supports over 70 small and medium-sized businesses.  His ideas to revamp the company’s processes and cyber security strategy led to a 98.95 per cent customer satisfaction rating over the last year.
  • Ivan Yao, Manager, Program Effectiveness, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Known for having a unique combination of leadership, business and technical skills, Yao led the team that digitized workplace safety in just 80 days. On top of all that, his team says he’s funny.

The Judges:

The members of the esteemed judging panel are:

  • Jim Love, CIO, ITWC
  • Gary Davenport, Past President, CIOCAN
  • Mark Bryant, CIO, PCL Construction
  • Johanne Duhaime, Vice President – Information and Communications Technologies at Hydro-Québec
  • Philippe Johnston, Director General, Digital Services Directorate, Transport Canada
  • Helen Knight, Principal, Helen Knight Consulting
  • Humza Teherany, CIO and Chief Digital Officer, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
  • Shari Wallace, CIO, City of Burnaby

Celebrating the winners

Finalists have been asked to provide letters of recommendation attesting to their accomplishments. The judges will select the winners based on the original nomination submission and the letters.

The CIO of the Year Awards will be presented at a special virtual reception held as part of ITWC’s Digital Transformation Week 2020.  Each of the winners will receive entry into the CanadianCIO Hall of Fame.

“It’s more important than ever before to celebrate the incredible IT leadership we have in Canada,” said Jim Love, ITWC CIO. “These men and women have seen us through some monumental challenges and are now taking centre stage in the management of their organizations.”