I am a senior financial services executive with 20 years experience leading diverse teams, from legal and compliance to communications, human resources and industry relations. I spent much of my career at a mid-sized life insurance company, where I supported the board of directors as secretary, oversaw the legal and compliance teams, and led corporate communications and human resources. For the past six years, I have been leading the legal and policy functions at Canada's national payments system operator (Payments Canada), including acting as secretary to the board of directors. Most recently I have assumed responsibility for external relations, leading the firm's engagement with financial institution members, stakeholders, regulators and government. In all of these leadership roles, I have worked closely with boards of directors through significant governance changes, including implementing fundamental changes to Payments Canada's board structure that came into effect in 2015. I am a lawyer by profession, have served for many years on volunteer boards of directors, and obtained my ICD.d in 2020.
In my current role, I am required to provide advice on a broad range of technology matters to support system development, corporate activities, and the development of the legal frameworks governing the exchange, clearing and settlement of electronic payments. I am also accountable for leading Payments Canada's industry outreach and regulatory/government advocacy to support strategic policy objectives. This includes significant engagement nationally and internationally, and with regulators and lawmakers across the country and around the world.
Canada's national payment systems, which are pivotal to the Canadian economy, depend upon and benefit from a strong, well governed national internet infrastructure. With cyber threats ever-present and ever-evolving, CIRA's governance role at the centre of the system is more important than ever. I would be honoured to be given the opportunity to contribute my expertise to the important work undertaken by CIRA - to support a strong and thriving digital Canada.
Explain from your perspective what CIRA does and why it matters.
CIRA delivers critical services that support the Internet activities of Canadians and Canadian businesses that are essential to maintaining a robust, competitive and safe national Internet infrastructure. It also markets related services internationally, establishing Canadian leadership in the evolving governance of the Internet. Key services include:
- Delivering on its core mission to maintain the .CA domain registry
- Developing and delivering cyber security services (for example, its DNS Firewall, Canadian Shield, and training programs)
- Leveraging its registry and DNS expertise to help organizations around the world manage and protect their domains (Anycast DNS services, Registry Platform)
- Investing in Canada's Internet through: community investment to support innovative community projects to build a stronger, safer and more accessible internet for all Canadians; CIRA Labs innovation programs; Internet performance tests; and national Internet exchange points.
As the COVID19 crisis has made clear, the Internet has become a fundamental instrument for communication and commerce, and it is critical that Canada have a robust, market-leading governance infrastructure that is forward thinking, innovative and oriented to the long term delivery of robust and innovative Internet infrastructure that responds to and keeps pace with technological advancement. CIRA plays a critical role in supporting and maintaining this infrastructure for the benefit of all Canadians.
Why do you want to be on CIRA’s Board of Directors?
I am passionate about Canada having the digital infrastructure it needs to enable Canadians to participate as full citizens and to maintain's its national competitiveness on the international stage. With my background, I bring the following expertise:
- 2 decades of experiences supporting board of directors in a governance role (legal counsel, secretary) and as a volunteer director on many not-for profit organizations, including roles on Audit, Human Resources no Risk committees
- Deep expertise working in a highly regulated sector (insurance, payments) at executive level, including working with various national and provincial regulators - Extensive member, stakeholder and government relations experience in complex stakeholder ecosystems
- Deep policymaking and legal expertise in highly regulated sectors
- Significant executive leadership experience, including strategy, planning and financial literacy
- Human Resources and communications leadership, engagement and diversity and inclusion
- Many years supporting product development and marketing teams
- Strong communicator, both orally and in writing, strong advocacy skills
- Quick learner, able to apply past experience to new subject matter areas
What do you think are the top 3 challenges and opportunities facing CIRA in the next 3 to 5 years? What approach would you take to addressing these issues?
I believe the top 3 challenges will be:
1. Cybersecurity - the threats are ever evolving and the need to be constantly adapting has never been greater, particularly with the impending threat of quantum computing. I would seek to understand the current posture of the organization - and its strategy for continuous evolution to protect the interests of Canadians and to keep itself relevant. I would lean on my experience in supporting cybersecurity and risk professionals in their risk assessment and response strategy, aligned with best practices recommended by governance and industry experts. I would share my own experiences in working with boards of directors overseeing this risk for systemically important payments systems.
2. Talent - COVID has created a very competitive and mobile talent market and technology talent has never been in such high demand. Attracting and retaining the talent needed to sustain the innovation needed to be able to continue to thrive will be critical. I would want to understand the CEO's talent strategy, including attraction, engagement, retention and diversity - and how they have planned for the workforce of the future to make the organization flexible and attractive in this competitive environment. I would share experiences from my own experiences leading HR functions and on HR committees of other organizations.
3. Maintaining momentum in a crowded market - as the Internet continues to evolve, the organization will need to continue to innovate and reinvent itself to provide services today while planning for the services of tomorrow - and building market awareness and demand - in order to maintain relevance. I would seek to understand management strategy, and do my best to become as informed as I can on the industry trends that could materially impact the organization. I would participate in board strategy sessions, and share my own insights from effective (and not effective) approaches to developing responsive strategy that adapts to ever changing market conditions.