Meet the Judges: Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams is the vice-president of information systems at Staples Business Depot, a role the Burlington, Ont.-native has held since 2001. In the 22 years that Williams has worked in the IT industry, he’s held positions ranging from software development to management. Williams steers clear of technology in his charity work, choosing instead to be treasurer for the OACRS (Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Centres) since 2002.

Career précis

After graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Waterloo, Williams began his career at Bell Northern Research (later becoming Nortel) where he was in research and development as a “member of the scientific staff.” He then went to IBM Canada as a software developer amassing knowledge on AS/400. Williams subsequently returned to Nortel Networks as a development manager, during which time he also studied part time, and completed, his Masters in Business Administration at the University of Toronto. He spent a year as vice-president of retail technology and as the chief technology officer at Indigo before taking on his current role at Stapes Business Depot.

Early Leadership Exposure

Williams recalls an incident during his rookie days as a manager. One of his top software developers was leaving the company, a change that would surely be disruptive to ongoing projects. Williams approached the vice-president for advice. “He was very helpful but not at any point did he give me the impression he was taking the problem away from me,” said Williams. “So I still had the monkey.”

Williams eventually solved the problem by relying on his own repertoire of leadership skills and using the advice given to him. It’s a stage in his professional career when he learned the valuable experience that is taking on and conquering a challenge on your own.

Leadership Philosophy

Williams, today, extends that same leadership to his staff because he believes it’s important to let others assume responsibility for their own challenges, otherwise they won’t learn. “It keeps them thinking about how to fix it,” said Williams.

Nominate someone you know for ComputerWorld Canada’s IT Leadership Awards today. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 11.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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