Careers: Interviews
Top-ranking Executive and Thought Leader: John Clarkson, Deputy Minister of the Department of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines in the Province of Manitoba

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

John ClarksonJohn is the Deputy Minister of the Department of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines in the Province of Manitoba. He has over 15 years of senior executive experience in the public and health care sectors. He leads the governments initiatives related to energy, mineral resources, petroleum, climate change, innovation, research, science and technology related business development, community connectivity, service transformation and information technology. Under his leadership, the government has been recognized as a leader in climate change initiatives, became one of the fastest growing biotechnology regions in the country, released an aggressive strategy that links together environmentally sustainable practices with economic growth, adopted an aggressive innovation framework, and is transforming the way government operates through the use of technology.

John was born in Winnipeg and is married with one daughter. He is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) degree.

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.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:037: John profiles his current position and what it entails.
"....I've been part of the private sector, part of the public sector, health care....and I think that the wide diversity of activity helped me to understand the various different things that are going on in this area ...."

:02:03: What important career insights and lessons can you share from your considerable experiences as a top-ranking leader?
"....Critically, in terms of moving forward....Broad range of experience, that is, being able to understand how different people approach and solve problems.......The relationships that you develop and a particular focus within those relationships, on how you get things done.......Understand the cultures of the organization you want to be part of.......Get a good understanding of what are the criteria that effective organizations have and how do they achieve the things they say they are going to do...."

:03:49: What do you see as the primary mandate for your Department?
"....To create a innovative culture in this province and to help people move forward on an innovative basis......within companies, communities, as well as within government itself...."

:04:19: John describes the key initiatives in each of the areas under his portfolio.
"....Just to highlight a few.......Working at connecting our entire province together and ensuring that all communities have access to broadband networks.......A number of initiatives in the climate change area.......Working within industry and with our universities and colleges to expand our research initiatives here so that we can get one of the key drivers of innovation going.......Working with our business incubators to find ways of supporting them differently to make them sustainable as well as creating more of an integrated regional based focus of incubation activities.......On our energy side...continue focus on building our wind energy capacity, bio fuels capacity, and energy efficiency initiatives.......We are looking at how government operates itself and have a major service initiative going.......We are going through a major restructuring in our information technology area...."

:08:20: Specifically in the technology space, what are your department's priorities for 2008; for the next 3 years?
"....Moving forward on an enterprise architecture that will standardize our approach to technology .......Formation of the Manitoba Network which will help us improve our own connectivity between departments .......Information management and the identification of authentication issues that go along with that.......Reinvest in (centralized info structure such as desktops, provincial data networks, tools which support people) to ensure they are current and that they support the business needs of various different departments...."

:10:35: How do you see the technology landscape building in Manitoba as compared to globally and the rest of Canada?
"....we do have an established group of small and medium sized companies here in Manitoba with good understanding of productivity and project management and the various different product tools. I see that our technology landscape in the province will grow around those kinds of initiatives and that they will be there to help sustain and support industry in their various different developments....."

:11:35: What are added areas of interest in your department that we should be watching and why?
"....Biotechnology...we get limited credit for the size of the industry that we have. Yet we probably have about 4500 people employed in the biotechnology industry......The other area you want to watch is our continued efforts and focus on climate change and the green agenda that is rapidly developing across this country...."

:13:33: I see news items such as: aligning IT with business needs, driving business agility, managing risk through improved governance, closing the skills gap and meeting future skill shortages, addressing the productivity gap in Canada versus other countries, improving ICT adoption rates, integrating Gen-Y and more. Can you share your views on the top challenges facing business, industry, government, and education in 2008 and beyond?
"....I believe that there are four major things that Canada needs to address.....the creation and focus on skilled work force.....the whole issue of capital access.....concerted effort around productivity....the whole development of new markets...."

:15:46: What are effective steps to address these challenges?
"....As a skilled workforce....a better focus on immigration....the issue of credentials and how we can improve the process of highly skilled people from other countries.....focused training and skills development....
Access to capital....each region should develop its own strategies for this....
Productivity.....good people...good skills....and the capital to invest at the right time and to take the necessary risks to support that....
New Markets....(government) needs to expand its awareness activities through various kinds of trade activities......"

:18:51: What do you see as your department's added priorities going into 2008? What do you hope to accomplish?
"....We've established five priorities for the areas of energy development....climate change....service transformation....research investments.....mines and petroleum......"

:22:03: From a personal perspective, what do you hope to achieve in 2008?
" ensure that we are successful at achieving the different actions that we have set in place and concentrating on our priorities and making sure we stay focused...."

:23:25: John shares five critical things that an organization needs to be effective.
"....What really is it that makes an organization effective?....
.....Having skilled people.....focusing on execution .....atmosphere of communication .....organizations have to have a capacity and be built around respect.....the whole issue of disruption - disruption can create new ideas - that's where your innovation comes from....."


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