Dave O’Leary is chief information officer at the Northwest Community College in British Columbia, where, during his five years at the school, he’s applied technology to bring together a geographically distributed campus that covers what O’Leary describes as “the size of France.” Introducing VoiP, video and Web conferencing, and cloud-based learning management systems has allowed students and faculty a richer experience. “When you have ten campuses, forming a leadership point of view, whether IT or organizational, having people feel part of one is a critical piece,” said O’Leary.
After completing a Bachelor degree in science education and a masters degree in education, the Newfoundland native started his career at the ripe age of 22 as principal of a two-room public school in northern Alberta. Eight years later, O’Leary began teaching management and statistics at Capilanu College’s business faculty also in British Columbia. He then joined Northwest Community College in 2005 as Dean of trades and technology before becoming chief information officer.
Early Leadership Exposure
O’Leary recalls recognizing very early in his career the ability of Stephanie Forsyth, then-Dean of Capilanu College and now president of Northwest Community College, in attracting talent to work on innovative projects. “She brought people along with her to do exciting things,” said O’Leary. “I realized in her that leadership is something that is different in different people.”
O’Leary believes that every person can demonstrate leadership in their own unique way, without molding themselves against a particular template. “Be yourself, don’t try to be a leader of some kind,” he said.
There are numerous ways leadership can be applied to help others identify a direction and the path to get there, said O’Leary.
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