Careers: Interviews
Paul Kent: Top-ranking Business and Industry Leader; CIPS Fellow

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., DF/NPA, MVP, CNP has an exclusive interview with Paul Kent, BSc., I.S.P., FCIPS.

Paul KentWith 30 years of experience in the Information Technology and Communications industries, Paul Kent's most recent position as Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer involved full profit/loss accountability for the performance of xwave, an Information Technology services company, while also leading the Enterprise Sales and Marketing functions for xwave's parent company, Bell Aliant. Previously he held a number of positions with Fujitsu including national leadership of their Strategic Consulting Practice as well as Managing Director for Fujitsu Consulting's interests in Atlantic Canada and New England.

Paul is very involved in his community and has been a Board member for Nova Scotia Business Inc. since 2002, and an Atlantic Top 50 CEO twice (2006, 2007). Paul is a member of the Board for the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, a member of the Capital Campaign Cabinet for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, a Past-President of Symphony Nova Scotia, a Director of the Symphony Foundation, and Marketing & Communications Chair on the Board of Governors for Armbrae Academy. In the recent past Paul was co-Chair for the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island's Capital Campaign and has also held Board positions for the Atlantic Multiple Sclerosis Society, NovaKnowledge, Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), and Canadian Association of Defense & Security Industries.

In 2007, Paul was asked by ITAC to act as National Lead of the Canadian IT industry trade mission attending the Nasscom 2007 India Leadership Forum. A science graduate of Saint Mary's University in Halifax, he holds an I.S.P. certification from the Canadian Information Processing Society and in 2005 was chosen as one of its first Fellows - the highest distinction possible for an information technology professional in Canada.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
http://blogs.technet.com/cdnitmanagers/

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:028: Paul profiles some of his key roles and shares valuable insights and career lessons gained.
"...It's a world where talented people can do very well, but it's also a world where simply possessing technical competencies simply doesn't cut it. It's a world where an employee comes competent to the table, but at the same time has to demonstrate various life skills in order to be seen as valuable by others..."

:03:44: You've had some very interesting leadership roles. Can you share some tips with our audience?
"....There are many models of leadership. I have found for myself that the most natural way to lead is from the bottom up...."

:04:55: Specifically, you became a founding CIPS Fellow in 2006 for your significant lifetime contributions to IT, the profession and industry. What further contributions do you wish to make?
"...the need to promote the profession as a profession (not simply as work). The very distinct need and interest for certifying the professional basis that we have within the country, and participating in global efforts where we look for standardization of the certification process where we can recognize each other's capabilities...."

:06:42: In your background you have your I.S.P. (Information Systems Professional) designation, can you go into more detail about that?
"...When I see the designation I.S.P., after somebody's name (who I may not know), I instantly know something about that individual and it provides a starting point for conversation or discussion. I've probably hired hundreds of people over the 30 years that I've been active in the industry and I can tell you that it really helps when you see that sort of designation because it is almost an implied stamp of approval. It tells me that I'm working with somebody who has been serious about their career...."

:08:23: How do you see the technology landscape building in your region (Atlantic Canada) as compared to globally and the rest of Canada?
"...Recently there has been quite an uptake of economic interest from the economic departments of various provinces and there has been a lot of success....The attitude here about IT is rather bullish and if anything we are now concerned about supply...."

:11:35: What are your views on ways to align IT with business needs, driving business agility, and managing risk through improved governance?
"...IT is so intrinsically a part of business that it is really an aspect...a way of understanding the asset base of an organization that is tightly integrated with all of the corporate plans. Clearly the constructive use of technology can help companies accomplish that productivity objective and can help them exploit new markets and help them to innovate...."

:14:42: How can we close the skills gap and meet future skill shortages?
"....Organizations like CIPS, ITAC, CATA....possibly organizations like Junior Achievement become very important because they create the right perception and the right facts for students who are choosing career options...."

:17:37: How can we address the productivity gap in Canada versus other countries and improve ICT adoption rates?
"...Technology can be used as a lever for increased levels of productivity and quite rightly has been identified as one area of focus in resolving the productivity issue......There is a prejudice (almost) within economic development agencies of the country towards simply finding employment which has to give way to finding the right employment. The economic development policies of the various jurisdictions of the country have to start very aggressively deciding which industries they want to be part of going forward..."

:20:22: We hear so much about Gen-Y and their impact. What does this mean and can you comment on it?
"....Connectivity is not an issue. Globalization to them is an opportunity (not a challenge, they are not threatened by it)...They believe everything is possible and they believe in themselves. I think that it is going to lead to a different definition of employment...."

:23:48: Can you share your views on the top challenges facing business, industry, government, and education in 2008 and beyond?
"......the relative competitiveness of our country and our products and services....productivity....short-term thinking....the aging workforce......significant stress between rural and urban priorities....risk aversion....lack of confidence in doing what we can do very well.....All of those things ultimately undermine the momentum of business and in a world that is global, the talent we so value today, we have to be careful we don't lose them to other countries....."

:26:56: Do you have any additional ideas of how some of these challenges can be addressed?
"....It comes down to leadership across all sectors - governments (at all levels), academia, business......The willingness to grasp opportunity and the willingness to use the very rich resources that we have in the country - human, financial, and physical....."

:27:54: Can you provide your predictions for the top business and technology trends, their implications, and opportunities?
"...Mobility, Privacy, Security, Globalization....all of these thing are changing the way we behave and interact and the ways companies interact with their customers, the ways companies understand their customers...."

:30:25: From a personal perspective, what do you hope to achieve in 2008 and going beyond that perhaps for the next five years?
"....I clearly want to have a positive impact on whatever organization I am associated with next. Like every role I've had through the 30 years I have been working, there have been takeaways, there have been valuable lessons, or there have been educational opportunities, or I have met very interesting people and I would hope that in my next role that's happening again...."

:33:10: You gave a keynote at the Informatics Conference around professionalism in IT. What does this mean, professionalism and what is the value of professionalism in IT?
"....One has a choice to be a worker or to be a professional and I've had conversations with staff through the years who have been exhibiting worker characteristics, not profession characteristics. If one is a professional, you own your profession - you own your body of knowledge and you contribute to it because you intend to be known as a professional...There is a need to categorize, codify a body of knowledge and competence and requirements of professionals who are going to do critical systems which are going to affect our lives...."

:38:18: What role do you see CIPS playing in the broader community, business, industry, government, education, and internationally?
"....CIPS is now the only really viable accreditation facility and professional association for IT people in Canada. It is an organization that has an extensive and fairly mature and good connection to equivalent bodies around the world....It's the organization which needs to be supported...leveraged....and challenged to very credibly, constructively, and appropriately....create a base of certified professionals in this country that will be the envy of the world..."

:40:30: The UN-founded International Federation of Information Processing or IFIP has their Professional Practice Program which received full ratification at the world general assembly in August 2007 with their first implementation meeting in Montreal hosted by CIPS in October. This marks an historical inflection point and speaks to IT as a recognized profession with global standards, profession-based code of ethics, and widely adopted professional certification-all happening in 2009. Can you comment on the benefits of this global initiative?
"........The power of this, in a world that is linked globally, is that we are going to understand each other better on the global level and it's going to be very helpful to business and government when you are sorting out fact from fiction when you are looking at supposed competence. I celebrate it, I think it's excellent...."

:43:10: Take this time to comment on any topics of your choosing… or looking at this another way, if you were doing this interview, what questions would you ask and then what would be your answers?
"....I fear that the multinational interests are beginning to dilute what we uniquely do in Canada. ....One of the core questions I ask myself: What am I doing in my career and through my work, that will allow Canada to retain some of this intellectual property and some of the assets which really come together to create a competitive and compelling Canada on the world stage?...."

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