Jories Timmers has been travelling the world since he graduated from school, but he’s found a new home as president of the CIO Association of Canada’s Vancouver chapter.
Timmers, the IT director for local energy firm PowerEx, takes over from Ian Banks of PMC Sierra, overseeing everything from attracting new members to organizing conferences and events. A Montreal native who grew up in Holland, Timmers studied computer science but also pursued a part-time MBA at McGill University. He has lived in Spain, Italy, the south of France, Paris for three years and then another three years in Switzerland before settling in Vancouver when his wife got a job there.
“I’ve really seen through travelling that my career has been made possible because I picked the right discipline,” he says. “There are people who have a law degree or a medical degree but then they found out how difficult it would be to change countries. IT has allowed me to go anywhere I wanted.”
CIOCAN’s Vancouver chapter will be in the spotlight next year when the national organization’s annual Peer Forum moves there from Toronto, according to Timmers. The two-day event is a good example of the benefits of being part of the association, he says.
“We have a unique niche of being able to provide a home for the CIOs. You don’t have any vendors marketing or taking a hidden interest in what you say,” he says. “We’re not an IT World Canada who can keep us up to date on the latest and greatest news. We share our ins and outs and our frustrations. (Research firms like) Gartner are more the library or the school that we use to research things. We don’t be pretend to be either.”
Timmers has been a board member with CIOCAN’s Vancouver Chapter for three years, but sees his hands-on experience in the industry as his greatest strength and potential contribution.
“PowerEx was creating an organization from a more immature IT shop to a more mature organization. The business had exponentially grown at a rate that IT couldn’t keep up with,” he says. “The wedge between the two were getting bigger and bigger.” Timmers has been focusing on deploying a governance model that is remedying that, which is not unlike the kind of challenges with which other CIOCAN Vancouver members are coping, he says.
Although Vancouver is marked by the prominence of certain industries such as mining, Timmers sees demographics shaping the needs of his members more than their vertical markets.
“I think it’s more the lack of really big head offices here. There are a lot of small and medium-sized enterprises,” he says. “With that comes a certain level of IT leadership that is probably more jack-of-all trades than people who have an army of people work for them. There’s more need for leadership training here.”
Although he may not have originally started off planning to lead an IT organization, Timmers says most CIOs are concentrating on the journey, rather than the destination.
“Fundamentally, I think it’s dangerous if people set themselves too narrow a goal. There are so many forces in place to determine whether you will take on a role or not. A CIO might be less in a big organization than an IT manager in a small organization. The focus should be on how do I learn more and gain as much experience as possible.”
Besides its regular events, CIOCAN Vancouver has also been the title sponsor of Simon Fraser University’s annual International CaseIT Competition for IT Management for the last six years. It is also offering an IT Leadership training program in partnership with the school.