Careers: Interviews
Vaclav Vincalek, IT Authority, founder and president of Pacific Coast Information Systems (PCIS) Ltd.

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

Vaclav VincalekVaclav Vincalek is the founder and president of Pacific Coast Information Systems (PCIS) Ltd., a Vancouver-based company that provides strategic consulting, application development, technology solutions and managed services to companies and government organizations throughout North America. He has over 25 years of experience in the information technology industry.

In 1995, Mr. Vincalek started PCIS, turning it into one of British Columbia's leading providers of IT solutions for business. His strategic vision, proven management style, keen understanding of business technology and ability to predict and manage technology trends helped him to successfully grow PCIS. He oversees and mentors a talented team of technology and business specialists.

Mr. Vincalek launched Boonbox in 2007 as a division of PCIS, currently offering unique web security, password management and secure data backup solutions. The division was established in response to growing demand from businesses trying to remain competitive while faced with an increasingly complex IT landscape and greater demand on scarce IT resources.

Before founding PCIS, Mr. Vincalek was a Systems Analyst with Process Automation Controls Ltd. in Burnaby, BC, from 1991-1995. He has also worked with the Jones Soda Co. to invent a patented personalized bottle labeling process, developed the overall technical framework and oversaw the coordination of the development teams involved. He also developed BCTV's back-end web system in 1998.

Mr. Vincalek has spent four years in post-graduate university research and has a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering at Czech Technical University. During that time Mr. Vincalek also worked with Nokia in Tampere, Finland and later in Prague, Czech Republic.

Mr. Vincalek speaks at seminars about web security and integrating technology solutions to improve business productivity. He is a member of the Knowledge Management Community of Practice, British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) and Academy for Technology Company CEOs (ACETECH). He has been recognized by the IBM Systems Group for the work he completed on the HUB International Limited Intranet Development Project.

Mr. Vincalek produces the Pacific Coast Informer, authors a blog about technology trends and is frequently interviewed and quoted by media in programs and articles dealing with the technology industry, such as BCTV News, CBC radio, the National Post, Vancouver Sun, ComputerWorld Canada and BC Business Magazine. He can be reached at

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

:00:34: Can you describe what triggered your interest in computing and business?
"....I was raised in technically savvy company. Everybody from my grandfather, father, uncle, were involved in technology in some shape or form. My grandfather and father were pioneers and definitely leaders in communication technology in Czechoslovakia...."

:01:44: You have a Masters in Electrical Engineering and worked for Nokia. Profile your work and valuable lessons you learned from these experiences.
"....When I worked for Nokia it was during my post-grad studies at the Czech Technical University in Prague....I was working in Tempere for the R & D department for Nokia....Definitely working for Nokia was a highlight of my career at that time...."

:03:01: What was the nature of your HUB work?
"....HUB International is an umbrella for insurance companies through North America....They came to us to create a portal for all their employees and to be able to cross various divisions and to be able to share the experience, expertise and knowledge within this large group....A collaboration portal where people could share information.... not only across geographical distances but also different business groups...."

:04:36: Since you developed the back-end web system for a major media network, what were the main challenges and solutions in this type of work?
"....At that time it was quite a revolutionary undertaking (1998-99)....It was a feature that through a browser the editor or a news reporter could update the story 'real time on the fly'. Today nobody thinks twice about it but at that time it was quite revolutionary for them...."

:06:50: Describe your work with the Pacific Coast Informer and your blog. What business and IT trends would you like to share?
"....We have been, as a company, in business for over thirteen years, we see that the technology is coming to the marketplace at such a speed that even for seasoned IT professionals, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with all the technology....Our aim with the Pacific Coast Informer (on the formal side) and my blog (less formal)....we want them to stop and think about all the implications....that technology has on their lives. For example one of the issues which is important to me is privacy and security...."

:09:08: What are key best practices for integrating technology solutions to improve business productivity?
"....Every time you want to implement any technology, start first with the business. Understand why you are doing it, where is the benefit to the business....Another is to find seasoned professionals who understand both - the technology and the business...."

:10:57:  What are some important lessons around improving web security?
"....It's like when you go food shopping, you go into places where you know you can get fresh food which won't make you sick. The same thing applies to people browsing the internet. Go to websites which can prove to you that they are serious about protecting your personal information and your privacy and your secure transactions...."

:14:15: What do you see as the most important broader business challenges and their solutions?
"....Businesses have to understand where the technology makes sense and how they can compete on the global level and how to do it as efficiently as possible...."

:16:57: In your current role, what are the biggest challenges, and their solutions? How does this relate to business?
"....The market is opening and the competition is increasing....we are trying to improve our internal business processes. We are trying to minimize the time being spent on unproductive tasks and we are trying to make our organization as lean and efficient as possible....We are trying to identify all the issues which other companies are facing and then deliver solutions which are helpful to these organizations...."

:20:37: Vaclav Vincalek shares an interesting experience from his work.
"....If one can create great encryption, there are always people who are smarter who can break the encryption. The moral of the story is if you don't want to lose something don't put it on your computer...."

:25:40: Which are your top recommended resources and why?
"....To stay informed I spend about two hours every day reading on the internet....I subscribe to about 15 newsfeeds from various vendors or publications from around the world....Wikipedia....Because of our work with major vendors (IBM, Microsoft, Novell etc.)....they supply us with information from their point of view....But I would say the most important thing for me is talking to other IT professionals (that cannot be substituted for anything else)...."

:28:00: It is interesting that what you are saying is that the top resource for you is your connection to communities enabled through technology and other means. This podcast will go out to different IT communities and you are saying that is a great resource to get involved with.
"....Technology is here to help us but it is the connectivity to other people who are knowledgeable and who can provide great wisdom and perspective on things...that is the ultimate for me. I am looking forward [perhaps as a result of this podcast] that I will be able to talk with similar minded people...."

:28:58: If you were doing this interview, what would you ask and then what would be your answers?
"....unclear ownership of digital information on the internet...."

Q: The UN-founded International Federation for Information Processing or IFIP has their Professional Practice Partnership (IP3) 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 of 2007. 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?

A:  Global standards and a professional code of ethics would benefit the IT industry. Until this point, the position of IT professional has not been clearly defined with firm standards and codes of conduct. Without exaggerating, the definition of an IT professional in some organizations has meant the person at the office who knows more than everyone else about computers - even if the extent of their knowledge was limited to opening up a box with a computer in it and getting the Internet hookup working.

The technology industry proved itself capable of instituting standards for technology. Clearly, the capacity exists for the industry to develop a professional association and codes of conduct like other established professions have already developed, like in accounting, architecture or law.

The IFIP is a long-awaited move for a maturing industry as technology plays an increasing role in our lives. It will ensure that IT professionals have the training and credentials to do their jobs and benchmarks to measure their skills, experience and value to their organizations. It will also allow industries to benefit from more free movement of trained IT professionals. Additionally, it can help IT professionals carry out their objectives, not of using more technology for technology's sake, but focusing on better understanding their customers to develop solutions for their organizations' real business needs.


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