Jean-François Barsoum has 20 years of experience at IBM, and has been working on developing smart city concepts and understanding environmental impacts since 2000. His role is to communicate and popularise innovation, smart city, and climate change concepts, and gives dozen of presentations on those topics every year.
In 2008, he was selected by Al Gore’s Climate Project to be trained by the Nobel peace laureate and become a climate leader. In 2011, he joined the board of directors of Mr. Gore’s “Climate Reality Project Canada”. He regularly advises smart city startups for accelerators, during hackathons or pitch competitions, and is collaborating on large research collaborations with several Canadian universities. He is also a director at the Canadian Water Network, a member of the AQTr’s Smart Transportation experts’ committee, has advised the Canadian government on cleantech programs, and belongs to the transportation committee of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce.
After graduating with a BComm from Concordia University in 1981, Greg Rokos started his career in IT in the midst of a deep market recession. After an initial success in selling MRP solutions with NCR, a leading American IT manufacturer, he left in 1985 to join Econocom International, an emerging European leader in IT services, to help build their Canadian operations.
After a 3 year period of tremendous growth between 1986 and 1989, where over 100 acquisitions were made, market conditions forced Econocom to restructure. Appointed President, Greg led the Canadian restructuring and participated in the international one, renegotiating long-term commitments and selling-off assets to conserve cash.
Lessons learned during this extremely challenging period helped build a strategy driven by the following key guiding principles:
– Focus and execution – Choose what you want to be best at, execute well an average plan rather than not executing the perfect plan.
– Embrace change and have tolerance for ambiguity – The IT industry is intrinsically chaotic and disruptive. A key to success is to be open to change and seize the opportunities that arise, facing challenges brought by technology transformation.
– Ensure the company’s financial situation is healthy to be able to quickly seize opportunities as well as face tough economic cycles.
– Be smart when acquiring. Look for hidden value. Structure win-win deals, take the time to integrate acquisitions properly.
Greg is motivated and excited looking at the big picture. At the same time, he is lucid about his blind spots. It was critical for Greg early on to surround himself with key people who were detail and process oriented and could help deliver his technology vision. ESI’s initial mission has remained and evolved over the years: accelerate its clients business by helping them manage, protect and transform their information, anywhere: when, where and how they need it.
The acquisitions made have evolved and matured into a synergistic set of solutions. It has taken patience and focus to ensure that what he built over the years did not, at any time, place the company’s financial stability at risk. As ESI is executing its plan for the future, Greg has never felt as driven and focused towards the opportunities available to ESI today. With the depth, maturity and drive of its team, Greg is convinced ESI will meet and surpass its goals.
Dr. Jill Birch is a leadership advisor, author and senior executive. She is Founder & CEO BirchGrove Inc., where she helps organizations develop individual leaders and teams and supports human resource partners to realize their strategic imperatives. She has not only been a CEO and member of several C-Suites in the not-for-profit and for profit sectors but also worked at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions and the Schulich School of Business where she launched their in-company leadership practices. Dr. Birch has worked extensively to build employee retention strategies in complex organizations ranging from Atomic Energy of Canada to American Express and the Canadian Art Foundation. Jill also has deep experience in working with educational institutions including York University, OCAD University as well as Sheridan College. She’s held senior leadership roles with some of Canada’s most prestigious not-for-profit organizations in retail, broadcasting, publishing and marketing. Dr. Birch has spoken to 1000s of leaders around the world. Her presentations reflect the human capital concerns we all have today – to achieve organizational goals through employee engagement, development of innovative strategies, and creating the right metrics to measure success. Jill holds a Ph.D. from Griffith University in Australia where she studied relational leadership and an M.A. from OISE/UT where she researched how CEOs learn to lead and how they learn to learn. She is also a Certified Association Executive.
A graduate in psychology and a teacher in a previous life, Louise Richer is the founding Executive Director of the National School of Humor. The institution it created in 1988, now recognized internationally, is considered a pillar of Quebec’s cultural ecosystem. A recognized spokesperson and iconic figure in the world of humor, Louise Richer stimulates discussions on the place and role of humor in society by organizing, among other things, the first symposiums on the subject in Quebec and Canada. creating the Observatoire de l’humor. In May 2016, she received the Order of Canada “for her contribution to the development and dissemination of the performing arts as director of the National School of Humor”. She completed the McGill-HEC Montréal EMBA in February 2016, for which she received a scholarship. She is also in the prestigious world ranking of the 50 best graduates at EMBA in 2016 – “The 50 Best & Brightest EMBAs of the Class of 2016” by Poets and Quants. She wrote the first thesis in Quebec on the place of humor in business. She is also a recipient of the Order of Canada (2016), mercury winner Germaine-Gibara presented at the Les Mercuriades 2015 Gala, as well as the Prix Femmes d’Affaires du Québec, NPO category (2014) and won the UQÀM Recognition Award. Faculty of Humanities, which highlights the exceptional quality of his professional career (2010).
Benoit Chalifoux gives conferences in Canada, Africa and Europe, in the field of soft skills and intercultural management. He is also Associate Vice-Dean International, Lecturer and Manager at the School of Management Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal (ESG UQAM). In the performance of his duties, he has developed more than 80 partnership agreements with the most prestigious universities around the world. He has also taught in every corner of the world, as well as helping start-ups. A graduate of Paris Dauphine University with an Executive Master in Business (EMBA), he also holds an MBA and a BBA from ESG UQAM.
Columnist at Les Affaires newspaper and blogger on LesAffaires.com, René Vézina has been practicing journalism for over 30 years.