It didn’t look like a Microsoft Webcast. It didn’t sound like a Microsoft Webcast. In fact, I don’t remember hearing anything about Windows, SQL Server or even Excel. And yet I couldn’t stop tuning in.

Of all the educational opportunities available to Canadian IT managers, I can think of few better than Microsoft Canada’s Ignite Your Career series, which kicks off this Tuesday. I’ve covered these sessions a couple of times in the past, including one on how to become an IT manager, and another on project management. This year, I’m honoured to be acting as a co-host for the entire series. And no, Microsoft is not paying me to say nice things about it, and I’m not getting paid to participate. I just enjoyed these Webcasts and I want to be part of the discussion. I hope our audience will want to do the same.

This year’s lineup is as follows:

March 3: Industry Insights and Trends: We’ll be talking with Avenade CTO Jeff Kempiners, Accenture’s Jay Payatte, Joel Semeniuk of Imaginet Resources and the ever-insightful Paul Swinwood of ICTC. This should be a great chance to look at the broad issues affecting IT amid the recession with a jam-packed slate of experts.

March 10: Establishing Your Trusted Resources: I’m looking forward to meeting Strangeloop CEO Richard Campbell and Michael J. Sikrosky to talk about the biggest challenge for many technology executives, which is figuring out what’s worth bookmarking, attending, reading and watching.

March 17: How to Establish and Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance: We recently looked at issues around stress at work in ComputerWorld Canada, and I think this panel discussion should be a valuable opportunity to explore those issues in further detail.

March 24: How To Become A Great Leader: I recently blogged about my recent management training and how it explored one style of leadership, but this Webcast should offer a much wider set of perspectives. Some people I’ve interviewed for years, including Greg Lane and Berry Gervin, will be sitting in on this one.

March 31: Building, Strengthening and Managing Your Team: One of the key priorities for any executive, but imperative for IT managers. I just hope we can get through all the issues that are bound to come up.

April 3: Women in IT panel discussion: A ComputerWorld Canada story on this topic generated a huge readership, and I expect this panel to be equally compelling.

We’ll be covering each of these Webcasts on IT World Canada’s IT Workplace Knowledge Centre, but if you have the time, sign up, listen in and ask questions for the experts in this series. This is going to be an interesting six weeks.