Remaining grounded and keeping team mates constantly engaged were tactics that allowed Aeroplan’s Remi Lafrance to handle major technological changes as the company segregated from Air Canada to become the distinct operation it is today. “It was not a small task from an IT infrastructure perspective,” recalls the general manager of IT operations, who has worked at the loyalty company for the last decade.
In his role at Aeroplan today, Lafrance, oversees the IT infrastructure, contact centre, vendor management and quality assurance.
Lafrance joined Aeroplan’s IT function, which he has witnessed grow from a mere 15 to more than a hundred staff. Over the years, the Hearst, Ont., native has held various IT roles in different verticals with the loyalty company. But before Aeroplan, Lafrance was an IT consultant working with Air Canada during the Y2K period. He was also at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. for a decade where he deployed audio and video facilities. Lafrance recalls his last task at CBC which was to replace reel-to-reel machines with computer systems. “Imagine, they were cutting tape with razor blades,” said Lafrance.
Lafrance holds a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, a specialization in computer engineering from the Université de Technologie in France.
Early Leadership Exposure
Lafrance finds a leader in Geoffrey Byrne, a mentor at CBC who taught him the value in choosing the right words to express ones expectations, desires and disappointments in a professional environment. “It seems very basic, but to apply it carefully and when done right it’s amazing what you can accomplish,” said Lafrance. “CBC, being a very political environment, he was a master at getting what he wanted.”
Lafrance believes that the power of “courageous conversations” can reap very positive results when applied to situations with political, financial or timeline pressures. It’s about tackling conflict by addressing the real hurdles, which can often be a sensitive topic for many, said Lafrance. “I’ve been practicing that internally at Aeroplan and it’s proven to be quite insightful,” he said.
Lafrance also leads his team by regularly asking them to ascertain the percentage of engagement they have brought to the office that day, and again, at the end of the day, whether they are content with their contribution.
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