While much of the IT industry focuses on next-generation talent and the expectations of so-called Millenials, the former chief information and technology officer of York Region has launched a social media effort on LinkedIn that aims to give a voice to more seasoned technology executives.
Earlier this year Louis Shallal, who recently launched his own consulting company called 3 Shallal Strategic Services, created the Senior CIO Network (Post Freedom 55). The LinkedIn Group has already attracted more than 50 members across the public and private sector, including several from his colleagues in the municipal sector.
In an e-mail to CIO Canada, Shallal said the emphasis of the group was around networking, mentoring and volunteering. “There has been much written about the role of the CIOs but interestingly enough not much written by those who wear the shirt that says, ‘Freedom 55 allowed me to survive the CIO journey,’” he said. “Many of these take away with them to their retirement the valuable lessons from the past, from battles fought, and don’t have the opportunity to share their stories.”
Though the group is aimed at those who, as Shallal says, “refuse to hang their medals,” membership is open to young CIOs who want more interaction with their “grey haired” colleagues. Of course, Shallal admitted, some senior IT executives may not wish to remain part of the CIO community once they achieve Freedom 55 (or later).
“Many of them busy with their grandchildren, their travels or their cottages. And, they richly deserve to do that. If you are one of those, enjoy the golden years,” he said. “ But, if you feel there is so much that you can still share and contribute to the young Turks that are holding the CIO key positions, here is a network group to connect with, to share experiences with, to mentor, to provide insight, to volunteer and to discover each other.”
The group has several active discussions on LinkedIn, and Shallal is planning on starting several more. Possible topics include the CIO’s duty to mop up “data spills,” which battles CIOs should fight and which they should leave, as well as the changing background requirements for future CIOs. Although it has started as a social media community, Shallal said he is thinking about embarking on a “journey of discovery” where he meets members one-on-one to compile a sort of CIO handbook of industry best practices.