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Chief Digital Officer – Algonquin College Ottawa


Digital empowerment is at the heart of Algonquin College’s mission to “transform hopes and dreams into skills and knowledge, leading to lifelong career success”. As the executive champion of digital empowerment inside the College, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO)helps ensure Algonquin continues to provide students, staff and faculty with the technology solution, digital tools, reliable and trustworthy infrastructure, and the digital skills they need to thrive, with in the College and in their communities at large, and to live out the College’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Algonquin College is recognized as a global leader in digitally connected applied education and training. The CDO works to sustain that leadership position by advancing automation initiatives and adopting digital solutions to streamline processes, deliver efficiencies, optimize business operations and enhance the delivery of academic programming.  As a representative of Algonquin in the community, the CDO actively develops and maintains relationships with external partners and industry thought leaders to ensure the College remains at the forefront of digital innovation in education and in the professions our graduates enter.

Reporting to the Vice-President, Innovation and Strategy, the CDO is responsible for defining, implementing and monitoring digital plans for all campuses of Algonquin College (Woodroffe, Perth and Pembroke), including approaches to classroom and online learning, enterprise resource planning (ERP), data networks, help desk services, business software applications, and hardware / software procurement.

The CDO oversees a team of approximately 119 full-time, 5 I/O’s, and 51 part-time staff, representing 6 functional areas of the College.  The CDO is responsible for an annual operating budget of $15 million direct funding and overseeing the investment of $6.6 million in student contributed technology fees.  The CDO has responsibility for a distributed information technology architecture that spans 3 campuses, multiple cloud data centres, securing and provisioning hundreds of personal computers and other corporate physical assets, a wireless network that supports thousands of concurrent users across over 2 million square feet.  The CDO, as representative of the Board, the President and the CFO, is accountable for the Colleges use of sensitive and private data, of multiple stakeholders, with compliance policies and regulations defined by multiple levels of government, industry bodies, Ministry and other stakeholders.  The CDO, as chief architect of the College’s digital strategy, must coordinate the efforts of direct reports and indirect stakeholders in the development and operation of a highly complex, secure enterprise architecture that is expected to be highly available, trustworthy and able to sustain and support the College’s aspirations and present operations.


The position will include the following responsibilities: 

  • Thought Leadership: Lead and evolve Algonquin’s innovation practice by driving both breakthrough and incremental innovation while also having the practical methodologies and skills to lead an organization in the transformation of leadership vision to practice. Must be a trailblazer in the use of digital technology in business, with a strength and experience in educational technologies.  Must be a role model for an “embrace the future” culture, a transformational leader who demonstrates the expectations not just discusses them.  The CDO must be seen, internally and externally, as the co-leader of, and the embodiment of, digital leadership and innovation, balancing the complexities of unionized staff, academics and change.
  • Business Strategy: The CDO must have a broad understanding of digital opportunities and risks.  They must bring an understanding of IT trends in higher education. They will develop, implement, manage and measure a digital technology and innovation strategy across the institution, bringing recognized leadership in evaluating opportunities and risks, then developing plans that address risk and capitalize on opportunity, matching that with the ability to translate vision into action.  The CDO must align the considerable annual investment the College makes in digital operations and innovation, which has an annual budget of approximately $15mm and an additional $6.6mm of student technology fees, with the strategy of the College and the CDO’s business strategy.  Further the CDO must work with industry to generate leverage, though applied research and through direct external investment, in advancing the technical capabilities of the faculty, staff and students of the College.
  • General Management: The CDO is responsible for the management of a large and diverse team, that crosses multiple organizational boundaries, integrates external vendors and thought leaders and coordinates efforts with College leaders, staff and students to develop and maintain solutions, innovation capabilities and resources to source ideas and execute initiatives.  The internal team, presently aligned to 6 operating units, is a mix of support staff bargaining unit members and administrative employees.  The team interacts and partners with members of the academic bargaining unit.  A high level of political sensitivity and active listening is required to balance advancing College priorities with the management of these teams.
  • Transition Management: Connect the College’s innovation centres and partner with key leaders to roll out novel ideas and best practices. Deploy and support large-scale software applications and complex IT infrastructure balancing appropriate risk management priorities with innovative opportunities to ensure the College’s success with digital technology.  As the College further embraces cloud computing and end-user computing the need for transition management and general management are heightened given the change in responsibilities and priorities that technology staff will go through as a result of innovation and evolution.
  • Operations: Oversee the operations, support, maintenance and evolution of the College’s ICT infrastructure and application portfolio. Set up and roll out an innovation program throughout the College and contribute to a high-performance, student-first culture, reinforcing values and behaviours consistent with this aspiration. Drive accountability and passion for student success and deliver excellence in the student experience.

The CDO is responsible for physical assets, including hundreds of personal computers, laptops, servers etc., mobile devices such as phones, iPads etc., a complex mix of business and academic software applications, a data centre, multiple cloud computing and SaaS relationships, a data impact and recovery plan to ensure continuity of College operations in the event of disaster or incident and the provisioning of a multi-layer wireless network across all College campuses that supports the daily demands of the employees and students the College serves.

College leadership, staff and students expect a highly available, secure and trustworthy computing environment that scales with the demand cycles of the academic periods and that is able to serve evolving priorities within agreed to and reported Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

  • Fiscal Responsibility: The CDO is responsible for an annual operating budget in excess of $15mm and an additional $6.6mm of student technology fees.  This budget supports digital operations and innovation for the College.  The CDO must oversee investments in IT infrastructure and automated business processes to ensure the College’s continued success.  This requires a leader with deep financial skills to work as a peer with finance and the CFO on strategies to manage, fund and report on investment in capital assets and services.  There is also a considerable element of risk management associated with the fiscal investments required of the role.
  • Research: Research, evaluate and recommend new technologies, especially those with the potential to deliver economic savings, increase productivity or improve the student experience and student success. Interact with corporate strategy teams and external vendors in the pursuit of ideation and innovation.


  1. Defining strategies and implement technologies that will keep Algonquin College at the forefront of innovation in digital teaching and learning and the digitization of management processes across the College, with the flexibility to adjust to rapid change and opportunity. For example, the shift to Software as a Service (SaaS) has complex risk management requirements, investment and data management priorities that demand an alignment of innovative technology, sound operations and fiscal analysis to be successful, sustainable and a contributor to College priorities.
  2. Challenging the status quo and overseeing implementation of the College’s innovation strategy, working collaboratively with internal stakeholders and external experts. The College has bold ambitions set in its digital innovation strategy.  Leading change in a dynamic environment, with a complex team and an academic stakeholder group, requires considerable capabilities in communication, strategic vision setting, active listening and prioritization.   Shifting business systems from internal, custom developed and running “in the data centre” to “SaaS” requires that existing staff shift priorities and responsibilities and embrace a new way of operating and delivering value to the Colleges business units, and bringing a complex team to these new opportunities requires considerable leadership and change management competencies.
  3. Determining how to catalyze transformation across the digital, social and mobile experiences that College employees, students and external stakeholders interact with and generate operating results, measurable ROI and innovation.

For example ensuring that all campuses and all stakeholders have reliable, stable and trustworthy networks available to meet the changing workloads/demands of the College is a fundamental transformational mobile requirement.

Further the shift to a “mobile first” strategy, developing new solutions for a mobile enabled workforce rather than a desk bound PC / browser workforce will require change in technology but more importantly a change in how staff approach problems, work in teams and what methodologies and technologies are used to develop and maintain solutions.

The CDO must bring vision, leadership and change management to affect this change in priority and outcome.


  • Post secondary degree combined with ongoing learning and development in IT.
  • Excellent leadership, interpersonal and communication skills. Is collaborative, creative and inclusive with subordinates, peers and leaders.  Co-creates outcomes with others through vision, prioritization and detailed execution.
  • Sets high goals and achieves them. Manages a broad portfolio of short and long-term goals, makes appropriate trade-offs between priorities and achieves the business plan and strategic mandates the role fits within and enables.
  • Provides strong general management, gets the best out of teams, senior leaders and external partners. Strong team building abilities, with a dynamic leadership style that balances creation with implementation and implements by iteration.
  • Is viewed by peers, staff and industry as credible thought leader in the digital innovation space.
  • Understands and shows commitment to the privacy, governance and data use regulations and policies as expressed by government and industry. Can provide appropriate risk management strategies and influence College policies to ensure compliance and appropriate governance.
  • Demonstrated business acumen, applied research and entrepreneurial skills, with a focus on unique programs that deliver growth and scale.
  • Craves customer engagement; is intellectually curious — a “cultural anthropologist”.
  • Is comfortable and able to succeed in a complex, matrix distributed organization, understanding what it is like to live and work in an organization like Algonquin College. Understands, and preferably has practical experience with the Ontario post-secondary education system.
  • Has leadership experience in a large and complex unionized organization. Understands how to develop high performing, accessible, and accountable teams within the framework governed by a collective agreement.
  • Has managed large budgets and large teams.
  • Understands and operates well in the procurement rules of the broader public sector.


  • 15 years of related experience, including a minimum of 7 years working directly in innovation, strategy, R&D and/or a mix of product management, strategic marketing, start-up markets, innovation acceleration and sales across multiple industries and cultures.
  • Proven experience establishing and sustaining collaborative relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Strong working knowledge of modern and emerging application development, implementation and deployment technologies, in particular mobile and analytic solutions.
  • Experience building ‘experience centres’ and ‘innovation centres’ as commercial vehicles. Practical experience with the applied research practices in the Ontario College system would be considered an asset.
  • Demonstrated success building strategic partnerships with external customers to co-create and scale products/solutions from ground up.
  • Proven business model innovator: entrepreneurial, creative and outcomes focused.
  • Proven experience managing unionized staff. Has demonstrated the ability to affect change in a change resistant organization. Has demonstrated the ability to lead technical staff, balancing knowledge with understanding.
  • Has managed large budgets and large teams. Understands and operates well in the procurement rules of the broader public sector.
  • Understands and shows commitment to the privacy, governance and data use regulations and policies as expressed by government and industry. Can provide appropriate risk management strategies and influence College policies to ensure compliance and appropriate governance.


More detailed job specifications will be provided on request.

How to Apply:

Please send your resume in Word or PDF format to: Copy and Paste the following job title and code and place it in the subject line of your email so we can identify the job and confirm receipt of your application:
AOLD-151027 Chief Digital Officer – Algonquin College Ottawa, ON – Ottawa (CRPAPPLY)

Please note that only those candidates meeting the selection criteria, established by our client, will be contacted further. Although we may not contact you directly for this particular role, all applications will be reviewed as we would like to consider you for future opportunities that may be appropriate. We encourage you to continue to visit our website at as our opportunities are updated on a regular basis.

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