The Value of Networking Through CIPS

guestblogger Adam Cole (Toronto, Director of Specialty Technology Solutions for McKesson Canada)


Recently I talked about the value of networking. Personally I do a lot of professional networking through CIPS (the association of the Canadian IT professional). For CIPS upcoming 50th anniversary I wrote some bullet points on what I have got out of networking within CIPS...

CIPS is amazing. For every measure of energy I have put in to the society CIPS has paid far greater dividends in to my life and career.

For two years I was a stealth member – contributing nothing and getting nothing in return. (Yet always asking where my dollars were going!) Three years ago Dan Eng, the Toronto President at the time petitioned Toronto members to get involved and I answered the call. Following are the benefits I have personally gained in the intervening three years:

  • Many new friends

  • A rich professional network – the value of which cannot be overestimated

  • I have employed the services of Nexient, Robert Half, Idea Technosoft, and others through CIPS relationships

  • I have been introduced to a number of companies and career growth opportunities through CIPS relationships

  • Access to many conferences

  • Published articles in ITWorld and other respectable forums

  • Someone I know and can call on in almost every major and many minor cities across Canada

  • An MBA (in progress) with a $7500 bursary

  • I have sought expert advice from CIPS friends and colleagues that would have cost me thousands had I paid for consultants. (Thank you Stephen [career], Len [security], Igor [HR], Dan [career], Jeff [methodology], John [development], and so many others!)

  • Speaking engagements (Ignite Your Career, IDC,…)

  • Knowledge gained through SIGs, dinners, and other events

  • Called on for expert opinion by the media

  • Established relationships with industry leaders. (Relationships I never would have been able to establish if not for my role in CIPS.)

  • And the list of benefits goes on…..

My life is so much richer for these experiences and there is no question that these experiences have contributed to a recent significant promotion at work. Now when I am asked about the value proposition by a non-member I tell them the value proposition is defined by what you are willing to give.

Networking and being active outside of your place of work is an excellent mechanisms to experience professional growth - often more so than formal training. Whether you join CIPS (across Canada) or VANTUG (Vancouver) or another group be sure to be active. I promise you will find it a rewarding experience.

Comments (9)

  1. Stephen Ibaraki says:

    Connecting and community amplifies your efforts and creates avenues and processes for success. Your words are echoed by everyone that I know–especially those that I interview regularly.

    Adam talks about a promotion at work … here’s a link to an article about this:

    Cheers and thank you Adam for a very fine blog.


  2. Stephen Ibaraki says:

    I wear many hats/roles including in areas that are non-IT related. Invariably people ask me what I do. I identify as belonging to CIPS having been a member for many years. The society has considerable impact and influence and this is suggested in this blog
    by Sean O’Driscoll, Microsoft’s General Manager:

    So how does this relate to you as an IT worker or manager? Well an estimated 44% of our members are managers and this includes many senior executives, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Do you want a career boost or to develop relationships and ideas for moving
    along the management ladder? CIPS is the best resource for this in Canada. Here are two examples from the last few weeks:
    – Stacey Cerniuk:
    – Trekker Armstrong:

    I attended a special event captured in a past issue of our bi-weekly e-magazine, CIPS Connections:
    Have a look at the names in the list of these honorees and their profiles!
    They represent significant contributors to the ICT profession and industry both in this country and internationally. They are CIPS members too representing a “tip of the iceberg” of the extensive experience, resources, and wisdom available within CIPS.

    There are CIPS Sections [chapters] in many cities where you can reach out and connect. As one example, I attended a meeting at one of them and a most prominent employer of IT professionals [several thousand] is a section director. At the meeting, at least
    one if not more, got job leads just by asking him.

    As a follow-up to saying I’m with CIPS, people often request more details. I tell them, we are Canada’s Association of IT Professionals. And CIPS is pronounced KIPS (with a hard “C”).

    I recommend they delve into the details of the I.S.P., the profession’s only legislated IT designation recognized by statute:

    I also talk about our bi-weekly e-magazine/newsletter which discusses issues impacting professionals and the industry plus news for our members:

    I always recommend this IT Manager Connection blog as a way of connecting with community too…

    This inevitably triggers a need for details… so then I say ….
    CIPS is the largest, oldest, and most influential “Canadian” voice of the IT practitioner and a strong advocate of professionalism. Our impact and influence extends to more than 200,000 IT practitioners due to our webcasts, blogs, newsletters, IT speaking tours,
    interviews, and strong ties and partnerships with the broader community, business, industry, government, academia, media, and internationally. Moreover, the Chairs of some of the most influential organizations, councils, and groups in Canada, are CIPS members!

    With its nearly 50-year history, CIPS is an original founding member of the IFIP (International Federation of Information Processing) which consists of the IT societies involving some 95 countries. Here’s an example of CIPS’s continuing leadership on the
    world stage:

    CIPS itself was founded by one of most important contributors to Computing worldwide, Calvin Gotlieb. Calvin was made a founding CIPS Fellow in 2006 due to his many outstanding contributions to Information Technology. I have interviewed Calvin here in this
    blog many times:
    Here’s one interview with Calvin (Kelly):
    Kelly’s contributions:

    Moreover CIPS holds two board seats with the international US-based ICCP (Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals); a link with the South East Asia Regional Computer Federation; holds ties with the IEEE-CS, British, Australian, New Zealand
    Computer Societies; has relationships with major associations, and accreditation groups. CIPS is also very well respected globally and for this reason CIPS was granted and then hosted the biennial IFIP World Computing Congress in 2002. With ties to major government,
    industry, and academic bodies, the installation of new initiatives goes through a rigorous due diligence process since what CIPS does has implications that go far beyond the society. For example, actions CIPS’ takes can affect new government legislation, international
    trade law, academic programs, employment standards, relations with other professional bodies, new industry initiatives, and even items like the GATS agreement and the EPA (Emergency Preparedness Act).  CIPS also has the only government legislated professional
    designation (called the I.S.P.—Information Systems Professional) akin to the designations found in the accounting, legal, medical, and engineering professions. The I.S.P. (Information Systems Professional) designation/certification from CIPS integrates computer
    science, information systems, business, and demonstrated high-end professional-level practice and development combined with a profession-based Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, and common body of knowledge guidelines. Moreover, CIPS has an accreditation
    program for universities and colleges. From the “CIPS Across Canada” statistics, 44% of the membership are managers and officers in organizations and the membership represents more than 2000 corporations, government agencies, and other entities. In addition,
    CIPS hosts the largest educational professionalism conference in Canada for the IT Industry: INFORMATICS.

    CIPS’ long history integrating with all elements: IT professional, industry, education, media, and government provide a past strategic foundation for enabling the success of IT and business professionals, corporations and organizations.

    Thank you,
    Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P.

  3. John Boufford says:

    Well said, Adam.  I have had many similar experiences and would like to mention a few more.

    Through CIPS I was invited to speak at an international human rights conference which led to the publication of an article in the University of New Brunswick Law Journal.  Again through CIPS, I was invited to be a columnist for Computer World Canada.  Both of these experiences, as well as speaking at conferences, significantly strengthen my resume and proposals.

    I have been involved in advocacy work – particularly writing position papers – for CIPS.  When responding to proposals, I reference these works since strong communications skills are always mandatory requirements.  This is much more effective than referring to some obscure client report which is confidential and cannot be shared with the potential client.  (Hope my competition doesn’t read this).

    Many years ago, I sat on CIPS’ committees made up predominately of IT executives.  Here I learned how executives build support for their ideas.  This experience is invaluable and unless you happen to be the anointed one who is invited into executive committee meetings, it is really hard to find this experience anywhere else.

    CIPS allowed me to develop skills in areas that were not part of my day job.  In this way, I was able to prepare for my next career move – something that we should be doing continuously.

    I was also able to develop a network of trusted advisors.  If you are respectful of the mentor’s time and schedule, most IT leaders are more than willing to meet you for a coffee near their office.  

    And like Adam, I have found that you get out of an organization, what you put into it.  If you hold membership and nothing more, that’s what you will get out of it.  But if you get involved it can be an incredibly enriching experience.



    John Boufford, I.S.P.

    CIPS Past President

  4. Roger Hart says:

    When I first joined CIPS in Vancouver in 1974, there was no doubt that CIPS was THE networking forum for Canadian IT practitioners. So it’s refreshing to hear Adam and Stephen’s comments that networking through CIPS is still relevant and powerful today.

    That being said, one important difference is that 33 years ago (is it really that long ago?) CIPS touched virtually all of the IT practitioners in the country while today it encompasses only a small proportion of our IT practitioners. It’s good to know (thanks in no small part to efforts of people like Adam and Stephen)that, in its 50th year CIPS is reaching out to the broad IT community to help spread the benefits that Adam and Stephen so ably describe.

  5. Terry M. says:

    Hearing more about CIPS is so helpful and seeing all the things you do and what it means to me.

    I caught your many {12?} webcasts on Igniting Careers last fall and got my team to do so. They all got a lot of value from CIPS on this series and want to see more. This blog background is educational and I’m encouraging others to look at your association. Thank you!I’m sharing this broadly.

  6. AT says:

    It’s about time we have a common identity and I can see CIPS providing this role.

  7. Lynn says:

    Sure sounds like a student membership would be a sound career move …..or for that matter any IT worker no matter what their current role or career position.

  8. Dave O'Leary says:

    For many years my involvement in IT was a purely personal interest and passionate hobby.  By day I worked in a British Columbia Community College – by night I learned about the fascinating world of  IT.  It was inevitable that my hobby would intersect my working career and since 1997 I have enjoyed working directly and indirectly in the IT field.  In that time I have met many amazing folks and enjoyed the opportunity of working with quite a few of them.  I have also had the immense pleasure of sitting in a huge audience watching one of my students win a major student achievement award.  Recently I had the pleasure and honour of presenting as a member of a panel on the Ignite Your Career webcast series, delivering a paper on educational technology in Qingdao, China, developing curriculum for a collaborative cyberstructure model IT diploma in Northern British Columbia and publishing an internationally published critical review of  a new IT book.  In all of these things that I have been so fortunate to experience there is one common link – CIPS – The Canadian Information Processing Society.  None of this would have happened for me without CIPS.  I know that as long as I continue to participate and contribute to CIPS I will gain far more than I give.  This sounds almost selfish but really the young woman student who received the CIPS student award helps me realize that CIPS is truly a shared value proposition.  If you get involved and contribute, not only do you gain much more than you give but those around you benefit; possibly even more than you.

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