This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Roger Hart: CEO and past Vice-Chair/CFO IFIP IP3; Leading International Thought Leader.
Roger Hart, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, P.Eng. currently serves as Chief Executive Officer for IP3 and is a founding director of IP3 since 2007 in the roles as Vice-Chair and Chief Financial Officer (2007 to 2009). In June of 2010, Roger Hart represented IP3 at the invitation-only Shanghai CIO Forum for Fortune 500 C-level executives. In July 2010, Roger Hart became a founding director of the IP3 Global Industry Council. As quoted from IP3: "Global Industry Council Directors are specially nominated and invited to serve within the UNESCO-sanctioned body as internationally recognized luminary executives, thought leaders, and visionaries and for their strong history of providing substantive contributions to global business, industry, society, education, and governments."
Roger Hart's past roles include: Director of Professionalism for the CIPS National Executive and Pacific Regional Director on the CIPS National Board. He directed the professional portfolio for CIPS and represented the pacific region on the CIPS National Board. Roger Hart also served as Associate Partner in the consulting practice of one of the largest professional services firms worldwide. Before becoming a management consultant in 1985, Roger had a distinguished career in both the public and private sector holding such diverse positions as a tenured university professor, director of MIS, senior college administrator, and management consultant. His clients have included international giants such as Siemens in Germany, SK Telecom in Korea, and Telstra in Australia, as well as Fortune 100 companies and federal and provincial governments in Canada and the United States.
Roger Hart was an early adopter of the Internet and one of the first people in North America to predict its immense business potential. He was instrumental in bringing the Freenet/Community Networking movement into Canada and was a founding Director of Telecommunities Canada. His many accomplishments have led him to be included in Canada's Who's Who.
Roger Hart has been a member of CIPS since 1977 and has held his I.S.P. since 1996; receiving his ITCP/IP3P in 2009.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Roger, recently you were invited to the international CIO forum held in Shanghai; can you tell us the goal of this forum?
"....The explicit goal was to invite some very high profile European CIOs to promote China as a viable partner in offshore outsourcing. The implicit goal was to present China as a real force in IT...."
Who attended the CIO forum? You indicated that some of the attendees were senior leaders from some of the largest organizations worldwide. Was there that kind of participation from the Chinese as well?
"....The Chinese came from different segments. There were senior government leaders from the central ministries in Beijing, municipal leaders, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs and CGOs (Chief Global officers) from some of the leading Chinese IT companies...."
What did you learn from the CIO forum in Shanghai?
"....They were taken very seriously by some very senior CIOs of the Fortune 500 companies....China is here and now - what they are currently doing is incredible, what they will do in the future is just mind-blowing....What we talk about, the Chinese are doing...."
Can you share your experiences from the CIO forum from a professional business perspective?
"....Both from the Chinese side and from the CIO side it underscored the need for professionalism in IT....One of the things that I wasn't prepared for in China was the number of people, particularly from the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan, who have either returned to China or gone to China to take leadership positions in Chinese enterprises....There is no shortage of excellent talent entering the workforce and in particular the IT workforce. Where the challenge is is the middle tier and that is precisely the area that the Chinese could benefit by having this huge group of professionals certified by an IP3 accredited organization. That would give a stamp of objective international approval on a huge scale and give a huge boost of confidence to potential partners of the Chinese...."
Can you share your experiences from the CIO forum from a personal and hospitality perspective?
"....We were treated extremely well by the Chinese, they dined us quite handsomely....Almost everywhere we went the Chinese have free WiFi access."
You have Western devices and you are going into Asia and China, was it a problem to get into their telecommunications network?
"....In China when you buy a SIM card, the whole of China is considered a local dial-in rate....The level of service I got from China Mobile (compared to the telcos in Canada) was just amazing...."
Can you provide a description of the cities that you visited? How was your experience with some of the local airlines and hotels?
"....We flew on China Eastern Airlines. The quality of service both at the airport and in flight was up amongst the best we've experienced in North America and Europe....We were in three cities: Shanghai, Wuhan and Beijing....The hotels were 5 star and most of them were as good, and the ones that weren't as good were much better than equivalent hotels I've stayed in in North America and Europe, and the level of service was just incredible...."
How did you find internal transportation (ie: getting from one city to another)?
"....The Chinese have invested massively in infrastructure so freeways are everywhere...In Shanghai I got to travel on the Metro by myself....Very fast and very reliable....They've also got an extensive network of buses....One of the neatest things I saw was the electric battery powered buses...."
What are your predications for China?
"....They will become a powerhouse in IT in exactly the same way they have in manufacturing and I think it will happen far sooner than anybody's predictions. The scale at which they do things and the speed they are able to make decisions is impressive....As far as IP3 is concerned unless we can get a foothold in China in the near future, I think we are going to miss a huge and very exciting opportunity...."
Roger profiles his past roles and responsibilities and what lessons he has learned from those past roles.
"....I spent ten years as a university professor, about ten years as a college administrator, and for most of the last fourteen years I worked with Deloitte and Touche ending up as an associate partner. I got involved with IP3 almost by accident....Even though IP3 has met the occasional bump in the ground, the fact that we've only been going for three years and I think of what we've accomplished, I think it's quite astounding...."
You took on the position as Vice-Chair and Chief Financial Officer for this International Professional Practice Project (IP3) for the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) which is a UNESCO consultative body. Can you profile your current roles and responsibilities?
"....My current role is the CEO of the organization and I am doing that on a part-time basis....We're not there yet, but we do what we can. We've already got Australia and Canada having their IT Professionals societies accredited and we have Japan, New Zealand and South Africa coming up very quickly. We really have to make inroads in countries like China and India because they are already major players and they are going to become even bigger. One of the things that I hope will help is the Global Industry Council...."
You are a founding director for the IP3 Global Industry Council. What is the purpose of the council and what do you hope to achieve with the Global Industry Council?
"....The purpose of the Council is to give advice from senior industry leaders in a number of leading global IT firms to the Board of IP3...A hope of mine is by bringing these senior people together in the Global Industry Council, not only will they give the Board of IP3 the benefit of their advice, but they will create a forum where meeting amongst themselves is seen as useful and desirable because there are very few forums around the world that allow that to happen...."
What do you think about the UNESCO affiliation?
"....The UNESCO affiliation gives a global stamp of approval to the organization and that is important...."
A summary of organizations: IFIP, IP3, UNESCO and WCC.
"....IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing)....IP3 (International Professional Practice Partnership)....UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization)....WCC (World Computing Congress)...."
You indicated that IP3 is going to be at the World Computing Congress in September, 2010 in Australia. Can you outline what the goals of IP3 will be at the WCC?
"...Occasionally a face-to-face meeting allows you to do things that are a little more impractical to do by conference call. We are having a face-to-face meeting in parallel with WCC. We are also having a face-to-face AGM which IFIP requires us to have....We are putting on an IP3 day as part of the World Computer Congress in order to do some promotion of IP3 to both the IFIP society members and to Australian businesses...."
Can you describe IFIP itself?
"....In total, (if you count all the affiliate memberships and membership of regional bodies), there are probably close to 100 organizations represented worldwide in IFIP, and something in the order of a million members. Those million members are often senior and experienced leaderships so the influence of the IFIP membership goes well beyond those million..."
What are the aspects that make IT into a profession? Can you comment on the need for IT professionalism [see: www.ipthree.org]?
"....At a simplistic level we ought to recognize people in IT as being an important cornerstone of modern society that demands a level of professionalism. It's unfortunate but if you tell a layperson that you work in IT, the image that they conjure up is probably one of a technician repairing computers in a workshop, rather than a CIO in a skyscraper in Shanghai...."
Can you provide your outlook for the future of IT as a profession?
"....It's not a question of 'if', it's a question of 'how' and 'when'...."
Do you have any closing comments you want to make (perhaps other than computing)?
"...I asked my grandson what he wants to be and his choice at the moment is between being an astrophysicist and an IT professional. One of our challenges is that 'astrophysicist' really has a classy name to it whereas we still need to come up with a good name that captures the reality and the essence of IT professionals. I don't think we've done it yet so if any of your audience has some ideas there I'd love to hear from them...."