This was a newly created position at the CPBI?

IA-C: Two years ago, the board of directors set up a governance review of the institution and also clarified the job description of a new position of CEO because they thought the institution would be suffering because of a lack of good strong leadership.

There was a high-level commitment to move the organization from something ad hoc [to something] more cohesive, more harmonious. I came to an organization [in May 2006] that had already made a commitment to change.

What have been your priorities since you assumed the position?

IA-C: I started off by visiting the regions, putting down an assessment on what the institution is like, and preparing our proposal on cost reduction, then going on to the programming areas.

You also moved the national office from St. Lambert to Montreal.

IA-C: That’s an important step even if it seems simple. My view is you can’t be a top-notch education and networking institution [without proper visibility].

And you established an Intranet system.

IA-C: I proceeded with an Intranet system to bridge the information gap between the national office and the regions. It’s incredible, putting out the information to 50-odd people in our regions who are all part of our councils. They’re occupying the same positions, but they don’’t know what the other regions are doing. Instead of going through us [the national], it’s all out there in French and English.

Which kinds of educational programs would you like to see the CPBI offer?

IA-C: The way of the future, and an area I am especially interested in, is making webcasts an integral part of our programs. Using the Web and having high-profile speakers who can speak at one space and connect and all our members connect. Right now, [speakers] have to physically go to different locations, and finding the people who will have that availability is not so easy.

What has been the most challenging part of your job so far?

IA-C: The most challenging is to find an institution that had been fractionalized, because of the lack of leadership at the national level.

Secondly, the kind of fragmentation I saw between regions. It was just mindboggling to see the lack of information, information on policies, on governance, on work plans. None of it existed.

How did you cope?

IA-C: I’m the kind of person who has never been associated with complaining psyches or feeling sorry for self. I said, ‘Well, let’s just turn this around.’

What are your latest projects?

IA-C: I’ve harmonized the process of financial reporting and prepared for a major management audit of this institution. And I’ve prepared a privilege partner package, a package of services [discounts on books, on hotels] to give economic value to members. Then we developed the basis of our database on experts.

Wasn’t the database a priority when you first started?

IA-C: It was an idea. Now it’s moving, and we hope to have a database of 1,000 experts online [in March] that will be accessible to our members.

What is the objective?

IA-C: Basically to have those who have a cutting-edge analysis on the industry actually be resources or experts at our conferences all across the country.

Brooke Smith is assistant editor of BENEFITS CANADA.

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