This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with leading professionals. In this blog, I interview Trekker Armstrong. Trekker has a passion for doing more and I very much enjoyed our conversation.
Take the time to listen to the podcast--it's well worth your time!
Reporting to the Vice President Information Systems (CIO), Trekker Armstrong currently manages Architecture & Planning and is accountable for a top-down business-strategy-driven process that coordinates the development of enterprise architectures to bridge the gap between forward-looking business vision/strategy and the portfolio of I.T. investments TransCanada will make to support that strategy.
As a senior professional with 25 years experience in Information Systems for the energy industry, Mr. Armstrong has held numerous roles within Information Systems at TransCanada, having transitioned from Director of Infrastructure Operations in 2004 to his current position.
Mr. Armstrong is an active participant in internal and external IT forums for the development and promotion of quality standards and practices, research, certification and professional development. He is the past Calgary Section President for the Canadian Information Processing Society and currently serves on National Board as a board director.
Mr. Armstrong holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary specializing in Management Information Systems, as well as maintains an Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) accreditation from the Canadian Information Processing Society.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Please overview TransCanada.
"TransCanada has a network of wholly owned natural gas pipelines that extend for more than 59,000 kilometers (36,500 miles), tapping into virtually every major gas supply basin in North America..."
Can you describe the major challenges and solutions in your role as Director, Architecture & Planning, for TransCanada? Or framed another way, in your current role, what are the biggest challenges, and their solutions? How does this relate to business?
"...The approach we have adopted is more around "fit for purpose" in support of business driven strategy. Meaning we look at breadth before depth, using our understanding of business priority when focusing on a specific architecture domain..."
What are your views on addressing IT alignment with business performance and strategy?
"...IT alignment with business performance and strategy is critical and has become what I see as the "Holy Grail" for Information Systems..."
What mechanisms do you have in place to ensure a top-down business-strategy-driven process that bridges the gap between forward-looking business vision/strategy and the portfolio of I.T. investments TransCanada will make to support that strategy?
"....this is primarily addressed through IT portfolio planning..."
What are your key lessons from your long career that you wish to share with IT and business managers?
"...It is all about the business. It is not about technology for technology sake..."
What are the most important challenges and solutions for managers in 2007 and beyond?
"...I believe that there is a perfect storm on the horizon...We need to focus on recruitment, retention and succession..."
The Industry is changing. What advice would you give to IT professionals to stay on top of what is happening in the industry in order to position them and their organization to benefit from these trends?
"...I believe that IT professionals should look at participation in societies (industry), subscriptions to research organizations and keeping up on related publications..."
What key lessons can you provide taken from your long history of management experience?
"...Regardless of whether you are in Information Systems or some other business area, effectiveness is really about people, change and business leadership..."
Please share a surprising, unexpected, or humorous story from your work.
Provide your predictions of future IT/Business trends and their implications/opportunities.
"...Compliance legislation will continue to evolve and grow...Investments in CyberSecurity will see a step change increase...Virtual organizations will become more the norm...Application Service Providers will take more of a market share...Continued commoditization of Information Technology..."
Do you think that from an IT professional standpoint, there should be a greater focus on things like core business and industry knowledge, service-oriented attitude, interpersonal inter-relationships, project management communication skills and with a technology base?
"...If people have read Nicholas Carr's (2003) article out of Harvard Business Review, 'IT Doesn't Matter'...I don't completely agree with him...(but) he does see and differentiate in terms of looking at participating more directly in the business and I see that for sure for us at TransCanada..."
Which are your top recommended resources and why?
"...Colleagues...Peers and social networks...Communities of interest...Research firms...Publications..."
Can your profile CIPS and your past and current roles within the organization?
"...For the majority of my membership with CIPS I benefited from the local section events and networking. Recently I have reached a point where I was able to contribute back to the profession that had provided me with such a challenging career..."
What are the values inherent in belonging to this organization?
"...providing value back to TransCanada through networking and industry insight that I have gathered as a result of this membership..."
Trekker shares his other interests and passions which includes aviation and oceanography.
Trekker provides commentary on a topic of his choosing.
"...I am an advocate for recognizing our Industry as a profession. That is why I sought various accreditations including the ISP. That is also why I am a member and active within CIPS..."