By Chloe Payne
June 1, 2017
Meet U of T’s new Chief Information Officer, Bo Wandschneider. Bo has led a distinguished 30-year career in Higher Education Information Technology, most recently serving as CIO and Associate Vice Principal, Information Technology, at Queen’s University, where he built a reputation as a collaborative leader guided by principles of community, common vision, and joint accountability.
Now that Bo has settled in a bit, we decided to sit down with him this week to learn more about his background and to discuss his vision for the CIO portfolio.
CP: What drew you to work in information technology?
BW: It was accidental. I was doing my graduate work in economics at Guelph and I was the guy who knew how to use the mainframe and statistical programs. It wasn’t long before I ended up doing all the IT support in our academic unit.
CP: Did you continue your work in economics once you began focusing on IT?
BW: I spent a lot of time straddling both worlds; I worked in the economics department for 10 years, splitting time between teaching, research, research support, research data management and IT support. When I was hired by the Central IT department at Guelph I was actually hired to create a data resource centre in a library. So, I’ve spent time in academia, time in a library and time in IT itself.
CP: Do you think your background gives you a unique perspective on IT leadership?
BW: I think it allows me to bridge the gap between the technology people and the academics. It helps me explain to the greater community what we do and it helps me explain to our team what the greater community needs. It opens a lot of doors and allows for a lot of conversations to happen.
CP: What are you most looking forward to about leading the team here at U of T?
BW: Learning about the people is exciting to me. I have the opportunity to meet all of these new people and listen to all of their stories – hearing those is energizing!
CP: What are the challenges of working in a decentralized institution?
BW: I’m not here to change that, I’m here to figure out how to federate it. Like I said in my presentation at TechKnowFile: How do you nurture one community with many neighbourhoods? How do you make sure that everyone maintains their own autonomy while working collectively to drive efficiency and effectiveness? How do we get the benefits of being part of U of T without losing our own personal identities? That’s the biggest challenge of the distributed environment: figuring out how to break down the silos. That doesn’t mean everybody has to be the same – we can all be in different boats just rowing in the same direction.
CP: Do you have any information security tips for our community here at U of T?
BW: Our Information Security Awareness and Education Team has a great list of security tips that I happily endorse:
Bo is truly a “man of the people” so don’t be surprised if in the next few months Bo drops by your office to get to know you.