This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Dr. Catherine Boivie, CEO Inventure Solutions, Senior Vice President Vancity, Founding Chair CIO Association of Canada (CIOCAN), Board Director Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), Board Director Simon Fraser University Dean’s External Advisory Board, Board Director British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Foundation, Board Director Burnaby Board of Trade, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA- Canada) Board Director (Public Representative), Board Director Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and Chair Nominating Committee, Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs Board Director and Chair Western Chapter, YMCA of Vancouver past Board Director and Chair Governance and Nominating Committee, ...
Amongst her many recognitions, Catherine is a past recipient of the CATA CIO Leadership Award, and Gartner North American IT Executive of the Year Award.
Dr. Catherine Aczel Boivie is currently Chief Executive Officer of Inventure Solutions and Senior Vice-President of Information Technology at Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union.
Previously, Dr. Boivie was Senior Vice-President of Information Technology (IT) at Pacific Blue Cross, and also served for eight years as Vice-President of Information Services and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the British Columbia Automobile Association. As the founding chair of the Chief Information Officers Association of Canada (CIOCAN), Dr. Boivie played an integral role in establishing and growing a network of Information Technology (IT) leaders. In recognition of her leadership work in IT, the Chief Information Officers Association of Canada, in collaboration with Ryerson University, announced the Dr. Catherine Aczel Boivie Scholarship.
Dr. Boivie has been named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women for 2009: Top 100 by the Women’s Executive Network. She received her award in the “Trailblazers and Trendsetters” category, which recognizes women who are either the first in their fields or have made a major impact on them, and who have made a great contribution to Canadian society.
Dr. Boivie received a Bachelor of Mathematics in computer science from the University of Waterloo, and a Masters degree and PhD from the University of Toronto.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
What are your top lessons from the Great-Idea VIP Delegation to China?
"....It was great for me to meet the members of the delegation who were from all over the world. It was a great opportunity to network and to learn about best practices...."
What triggered your initial interest in technology and then what forces shaped your interests? Where do you see yourself in five years?
"....I like the application of mathematics in technology and to be able to use it to enable businesses....Five years from now, I see myself consulting and advising large organizations on how they can make use of technology to deliver better products and services...."
Please provide your past career highlights and valuable leadership and career lessons for success that you wish to share with the audience.
"....I had some great opportunities. I didn’t limit myself just to work in the private sector....I had progressively more responsible positions and I worked in companies that were for profit and not for profit, as well as government...."
You’ve been recently appointed to the ICBC board. Congratulations on that remarkable achievement.
"....I have been on several boards. It gives me a much broader experience....While it lets me give back a little to society, I learn a great deal from other people and various board matters...."
What you want to accomplish and what value do you want to deliver to your stakeholders?
"....My priority is first to understand the business and second to know about technology....The best CIOs are those who you can’t tell are in technology because they are business-focused with technology in their toolkit. Another area that I feel passionate about is that CIOs have to make sure that whatever we do from a technology point is easy to use...."
What specific attributes contributed to your success?
"....I think having a good network and a good set of friends, supportive people who are willing to tell you things as they are, a solid education, and being willing to try something new...."
What are the most useful IT resources and tools needed for businesses?
"....Networking is really important....Make sure you belong to associations that can assist you....Know the business and how the business runs...."
What are the most useful IT resources and tools for IT governance?
"....IT governance is really important and many CIOs don’t give enough time to make sure that the proper governance is in place....Governance means who makes what decision and what is their role in that decision...."
What are the biggest misconceptions about IT executives and how can they be resolved?
"....I think the biggest misconception is that IT executives can only talk in techno-babble....It’s really important to talk in terms of technology that people can understand and can relate to...."
What are the major challenges for IT executives and how can they be resolved?
"....Technology hype....Making sure that you keep up-to-date with your knowledge with technology, business, or other areas...."
What are the biggest opportunities for IT executives and how can they be actioned?
"....To be part of senior management and make corporate decisions (not technology)....you need to make sure you understand the consumer part of technology as well as the corporate part...."
You founded the CIO Association of Canada. What outcomes do you wish to see for the CIOCAN in five years?
"....Making sure that there are opportunities for information exchange....Five years from now I hope there are more CIOs belonging to it....More CIOs volunteering their time so that the organization can prosper...."
Can you give us some more insights about the relationship between CIOs and boards and how they can work together?
"....I think that it is very important to have technology specialists on boards....Almost every part of an organization now requires technology. On every board there is someone with financial skills, HR skills, governance skills, legal skills, and I think we need to lobby that every board should also have a senior executive with technology skills that speaks business not technology...."
You choose the areas - provide your top predictions of future trends and their implications/opportunities?
"....Technology will be further embedded in our everyday life....It will be more transparent and built into more things, and besides being lighter and cheaper they will be much more intuitive....More and more vendors will realize that the easier a technology is to use more people will use it...."
Which are your top recommended resources for IT executives and professionals and why?
"....Attending courses like the Institute of Corporate Directors ICT diploma course....Important to participate in a number of organizations, not just those which have to do with technology, but those that generally better society...."
Catherine shares a story from her work and experiences.
If you could sum up your life experiences with career tips for the ICT professional, what would be your tips and the reasons behind them?
"....Take care of your family....Live a life where you experience different situations....Never stop learning...."
What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession like medicine and law, with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and globally recognized credentials?
"....It is a very large task and probably will have a number of difficult challenges to overcome....Technology is so young and has grown so fast....It takes awhile to get acceptance for a designation, certification and recognition worldwide...."
If you were doing this interview, what question would you ask and then what would be your answer?
"....’How do you make sure to live a balanced life?’...."