AVP & CTO Update October 21, 2019
It is a federal Election Day today. I do hope if you haven’t made time to vote in advance polls, that you will try to make time today to get out and vote at your polling station. If you are not registered, you can register at the polling station with the appropriate identification and details. We are extremely fortunate to live in a democracy and your vote does matter, not just in the way it feeds into the outcomes of the election, but as recognition that democracy still counts and can be effective and matters to those of us in democracies. You can learn more on the Elections Canada site. Take your neighbours and colleagues with you and make it a community affair! 🙂
I have just returned from two back to back weeks of travel. I was at the CUCCIO meeting in Quebec City two weeks ago, and have just returned from Chicago and EDUCAUSE. My colleagues across Canada have all agreed that this autumn, and especially October, has been an intense array travel and meetings. If I had agreed to attend all of the potential conferences and meetings to which I was invited to participate and/or present, I could be gone for most of the fall semester: OpenWorld, CANARIE Summit, CUCCIO, EDUCAUSE, Cybera, Gartner Symposium, EAB… and so many more that come in the form of one day activities in Toronto.
While being away for two weeks in a row may seem like an incredible void in my presence on campus, and it is, I try to maintain contact with what is happening here and consider this to be ‘work hours’ regardless of location. At the same time, to get the most out of these activities, it is imperative to be present and focused while at those other locations as well. That can make for a challenging balancing act. Regardless, I believe that these off campus activities and commitments are my ‘other job’. It is a way to contribute to the overall Higher Ed IT landscape and the returns and benefits that McMaster gains from this contribution are vital for our collective success.
So what happens at these conferences and meetings? That depends in part on which meeting and what my role is with the organization. If I use the CUCCIO meeting and the EDUCAUSE conference as examples, it may help to uncover the value for McMaster.
CUCCIO is our Canadian University Council of CIOs. The mandate for this group is to create knowledge sharing, collaboration opportunities, and advocacy for Higher Ed IT across the Canadian membership and Higher Ed landscape. Over 65 institutional IT leaders participate in CUCCIO and we meet three times per year. I am very fortunate that I was able to attend these meetings even before I became a CTO/CIO at McMaster, and over the years I have built up familiarity with my colleagues and in turn that has created trust and the ability to share and engage in various activities. CUCCIO meetings provide an opportunity to dig into issues at a deeper level, including timely discussions around national areas of concern, like research IT support and IT Security. It is also a time to share and educate others on things that we are doing well. As an example, Bo Wandschneider, CIO at UofT, and I presented on digital moments and took the CIOs through a digital moment exercise last winter. This time, I presented on the CanSSOC proof of concept project, updating the community on our activities. Both of these are also examples of the collaborations that take place across institutions. Yes it is true that UofT borrowed our ideas on strategic planning and digital moments because of my high trust relationship with Bo. Yes the idea for CanSSOC came about because of the relationship and trust I have with other CIOs and our shared areas of interest.
In addition, CUCCIO officially launched its new Leadership Development program this year after a one year pilot program and the ‘in person’ sessions take place in conjunction with the CUCCIO meetings, and I participate in those as well. I am one of the contributors and organizers of this program, in conjunction with Lori MacMullen our CUCCIO Executive Director and Bob Cook, the retired CIO from UofT. The genesis of this program was a discussion that took place back in 2011, when I was at a CUCCIO meeting in Vancouver, where the CIOs talked about the value of learning and development and the ability to seed the future CIO funnel by helping to inform and educate aspiring IT leaders on what is involved in being a CIO. The other goal was to build cohorts and community at the next leadership level. It took a few years to get this off the ground, but here we are today with this year’s 17 committed participants who will attend a year’s worth of CUCCIO meetings (3) and also participate in online learning sessions throughout the year. Richard Godsmark participated as part of the pilot (guinea pig group) last year, and Paula Brown-Hackett is part of this year’s cohort. I think there are many of us in current CIO positions who wish we had a program like this to help us when we were still aspiring. My role in the program is to act as an advocate and to help provide content and leadership. It is exciting to see individuals grow and develop through the program. It is also very uplifting to see so many great leaders on the ‘up and coming’ trail.
Outside of the CUCCIO meetings themselves, the activity across Canada is vibrant and continuous. We have a communication listserv that we use to communicate and share issues and ideas, to take surveys on various topics, and to contribute solutions and guidance, on a daily basis. We volunteer our time to form committees and advisory group for many affiliate organizations like ComputeCanada and Canarie. We are invited to attend government meetings and vendor sessions to represent CUCCIO and our institutions and to keep each other informed on the IT and Higher Ed landscape as it pertains to our areas of influence and responsibility. These 65 IT leaders are an extension to my team and I am thankful to have them by my side. They make me a better leader and keep us better informed and tied into what matters.
EDUCAUSE is a much bigger, international organization with many facets. The annual conference is just one aspect of what EDUCAUSE offers and I can’t do all of it justice here. Similar to CUCCIO, attending the EDUCAUSE conference offers an opportunity to build relationships with individuals at other institutions across North America, and internationally. I attend community group meet ups which stay alive through the year on active listservs. I set up meeting with vendors to see how they can support our campus initiatives – I had a very robust conversation with Google this time around, as an example. I meet up with my cohort from various leadership development programs I have attended in past – my Leading Change cohort as an example. I present on what we are involved with at McMaster, raising our profile and giving back to the community: this time Bo Wandschneider and I presented on Strategic Planning and Digital Moments, and I also presented with Bo and others on CanSSOC. I am also a faculty member for some of the EDUCAUSE programs – the last two years I was involved in the New IT Manager Course, and this year I will be faculty for the Management Institute. I meet with my fellow faculty members to talk about the program in January. Fill that in with meetings and discussions with past and present colleagues from various institutions and past conferences and affiliations, and the time fills up quickly!
I hope this helps to make you more aware of some of my ‘other job’ responsibilities and to know that even when I am not on campus, I am very much functioning as a member of McMaster University, representing our needs and interests, and raising our profile across the country and beyond. It is a wonderful privilege to do so and I hope that my activities inspire you to find ways to be involved, too!
That’s how I see IT for this week.
Have a great week everyone!
Gayleengg's blog, Uncategorized