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Public sector leadership and IT: An unconventional match

Public sector leadership and IT: An unconventional match 

But all joking aside, the match between the IT and public service industries is equally unconventional. What possible link is there between two very different sectors? The upcoming Leadership Summit in Sudbury, Ont. will attempt to answer this and many other pertinent questions.

To help bridge the gap even further, IT in Canada spoke to MIRARCO Mining Innovation president and CEO and regular ITIC columnist Vic Pakalnis about the event and the connection between IT and the public service.

IT in Canada: What are the origins of the Leadership Summit?
It started last year with the first Leadership Summit. It was very successful, and attracted about 100 leaders from the Sudbury region. It’s fascinating to see that we have such a selection (of people) in the public and private sectors up in the north. What we would like to do is have this an annual event and a way of meeting up with leaders from other parts of Canada and various sectors to exchange information, hone their skills, and also get some takeaways to improve our country, communities and companies.

ITIC: What were some of the highlights of last year’s inaugural event?
We had a lot of interesting speakers, and there was a lot of interesting storytelling by people who, against very difficult odds, created new and innovative structures. One example was Jerry Lockhart, who brought the regional cancer treatment centre into the north. We also heard from leaders such as Dominic Giroux, the youngest president of any university in Canada. We also had Steve Paikin, who most people recognized from his work on TVO. He studied political leaders and published a book on them. He is also the chancellor at Laurentian University, and will be coming back for a return visit this year. He will be moderating a panel of leadership gurus that will give us an idea of how to build leadership within organizations. It was a great event last year, but it was more localized. This year, with the help of Canadian Government Executive, we’ve made it an international event.

ITIC: What is expected at this year’s event?
We’re bringing in some great speakers, such as Stephen Covey, and we’re really looking forward to him (attending). He’s going to talk about management at the speed of trust. It’s all about relationships and leading with integrity. We have Jennifer Deal, who is a senior researcher for the Centre for Creative Leadership in California. We also have Dr. Rosie Steeves, who is the president of Executive Work. She directs a leadership development initiative across Canada for mining companies. There is also Kerry Pond, who is the head of the Centre for Leadership and Learning with the Ontario Government. They have an executive training program that is second to none in the public services in Canada. He’ll be talking about how they develop track and nurture leadership. We have a great lineup this year, and we’re really looking forward to great success this year and hopefully in future years as well.

ITIC: Why should people attend this event?
People will attend for various reasons. For those from out of town, it’s a way of reconnecting with the north. I came back to Sudbury after 30 years away, and I found it a wonderful place to visit. The air is cleaner than Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa or Kingston, for that matter. On the leadership side of things, this is a unique conference. You’ll get to mix and mingle and meet people, and also participate in café event that we’re holding to make sure that people benefit from whoever is in the room. Of course, you’ll have some international speakers and experts there as well, but I think you’ll have that northern hospitality that will be coming through at this conference.

ITIC: How is this event relevant to the IT industry?
IT is no longer just an add-on to businesses, the government or the private sector. IT leadership has to be developed and fit into the fabric of what is happening, and IT professionals should be very much interested in honing their skills to be able to relate to all the various components of a business or the government. One of the best IT professionals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting is Luc Roy, chief information officer for Laurentian University. He is certainly the kind of person you will meet at the conference, and it’s important to have those contacts outside the specific sector that IT professionals usually mix with. I think that IT has grown to the point where it is absolutely core to any organization, and the leadership that has to be developed there is far more important than it was when I was starting out in the public service and then the private sector.

The 2014 Leadership Summit will be held at Laurentian University in Sudbury from Oct. 16-17, 2014. For more information about the event, please visit

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