In Calian, Tremblay is joining a company that is on track to generate record revenues of more than $630 million in fiscal 2023.Just a couple of months ago, Michael Tremblay was happily ensconced in his role as president and CEO of Invest Ottawa. Then, a conversation with one of the city’s most prominent business leaders dramatically altered his career plans. Kevin Ford, the well-respected chief executive of Calian Group, reached out to Tremblay with a question: would he be interested in filling the vacant office in Calian’s C-suite? “When I received the call from Kevin, I was kind of surprised,” Tremblay told Techopia on Tuesday, a day after Calian announced he would be joining the Kanata firm as president of its IT and cyber solutions division effective Dec. 1. “How could you not be interested in Calian? It’s such a growing company and a very, very prominent company in the Ottawa landscape. It’s not something I was expecting at all.” As it turned out, it was also an offer he couldn’t refuse. “When I looked at it and when I considered different potential paths forward for me as a leader, I couldn’t resist,” he said. Tremblay, 62, brings an impressive CV to his new job. Over the past four decades, he’s held senior sales, marketing and operations positions at a who’s-who of tech giants, from Digital Equipment Corp. to Microsoft. His 2017 move into the leadership seat at Invest Ottawa – an organization with a budget of less than $10 million and dozens, rather than thousands, of employees – marked a significant change of pace for Tremblay. But he jumped in with both feet, taking charge just as the government-funded economic development agency was settling into its new home at Bayview Yards. Tremblay wasted no time putting his stamp on IO, spearheading the launch of projects such as Area X.O, a massive training ground for driverless vehicles on Woodroffe Avenue, and programs aimed at turning startups into global businesses like the federally funded Scale-Up Platform, which IO offers in conjunction with Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District and Waterloo-based Communitech. “The world of economic development has been a very new journey for me as a leader,” Tremblay admitted. “We’ve done a lot of work in developing the new leaders of tomorrow. I feel very good about it, and I can’t wait to see the next phase of Invest Ottawa.” Ford said IO’s evolution under Tremblay’s watch is a testament to his skills as a leader. “He never took it as a not-for-profit,” explained Ford. “He treated it as a business and really excelled at creating an exciting platform for the world. He really has that unique balance of larger corporation experience with almost a startup mentality that he brought to Invest Ottawa. That’s what really attracted me.” In Calian, Tremblay is joining a company that is on track to generate record revenues of more than $630 million in fiscal 2023. The IT and cyber department is one of four main business divisions at the company, along with health, learning and advanced technologies. In 2022, IT and cyber revenues more than doubled from the previous year to $173 million on the strength of aggressive moves such as the acquisition of U.S.-based IT and cybersecurity provider Computex. The IT business hit a bit of a rough patch recently due mainly to lower shipments in its U.S.-based product resale business. But Calian is predicting that its fiscal 2023 IT and cyber revenues will come in around the $200-million range, nearly three times as much as the division brought in two years ago. Tremblay said the pressing need for more effective cybersecurity solutions and Calian’s growing footprint south of the border suggest the segment has all the ingredients of a long-term winner. “They’ve positioned themselves for where the growth is and they’ve made the investment,” he said of Calian. “They’ve put their money where their mouth is. I’ll be drawing on almost four decades of experience, and I can tell you I’m going to put everything I’ve got at it.” Ford clearly shares his new C-suite colleague’s sunny outlook. “I think we’re seeing great momentum, and I don’t think that’s going to go away any time soon,” he said. Meanwhile, Tremblay is confident he’s leaving IO in good hands. Sonya Shorey, the organization’s vice-president of strategy, marketing and communications, will take over as president and chief executive on an interim basis while the board searches for a full-time replacement, a process that’s expected to take up to nine months. “Sonya Shorey is an amazing leader, and she’s going to do a great job as the interim CEO,” Tremblay said. “I think the future is very bright.”
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