Anyone who visits the website of the CIO Association of Canada (CIOCAN) today and lands on the page enumerating the group’s various chapters will notice a key region of the country missing.
Since its formation in 2004, CIOCAN, an organization whose membership is made up of chief information officers (CIOs) and senior IT executives, has established chapters in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Manitoba, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, but until now, the Maritimes has not been part of the equation.
While CIOCAN members from areas of the country without local groups are served by the national chapter, Derrick Whalen, director of information and technology services with the Port of Halifax, feels the time has come to change that, largely due to the fact that, he said, “Atlantic Canada is such an important part of the landscape in Canada when it comes to CIOs and the work that we all do.”
In an interview with IT World Canada this morning, he said an opportunity exists to extend the organization’s platform into the region.
On Wednesday night, the chapter’s debut event will take place at The Barrington Hotel – Harbour City Bar & Grill in Halifax. Entitled Re-invent your IT talent architecture, it will include a networking session, a presentation, followed by a dinner and more networking.
“Atlantic Canada CIOs and senior IT leaders are invited to join us for an interactive discussion as we learn from each other on how organizations are bridging the tech skills gap,” the formal invitation reads. “Discussions will address how to create opportunities that focus on talent, technology and purpose for well thought-out long and short-term employee retention strategies.”
Guest speaker for the evening will be Michelle Murray, director of sales for Randstad Technologies Group, a company that specializes in “matching IT talent for large enterprises across Canada.”
The topic of the debut event, said Whalen, was chosen because first, it is “top of mind,” and secondly, because finding and recruiting the right personnel is a big challenge across multiple industries.
“What we are hoping to get is a very interactive group together,” he said. “It will hopefully be a session where we can collaborate and share and talk about some common themes.”
And while he is hardly expecting a line-up at the door, Whalen did say that if he can get a “dozen or so IT leaders in the room to talk about the value of having a chapter and what people want from this,” he will consider the event to be a success.
“Like anything, the first couple of sessions may be a little bit tricky to get off the ground until people start to understand the value that’s here,” he said. “But at the end of the day, you have to start somewhere. And if we have a good turnout, great; if we need to continue to pick up the phone and call people, we’ll do that.”
A key ally in his attempt to create the new chapter has been Dianne Lapierre, who moved to Nova Scotia last year and brings a wealth of CIOCAN knowledge, including being the former president of the Vancouver chapter and having served on the national board.
She describes Whalen as someone who has a “great perspective on the value a chapter will bring to the region,” while he points out she has been an invaluable resource in terms of “helping getting it off the ground.”