Michael Donovan, Thorsten Heins, and Michael Roach are the nominees for the Cantech Letter 2012 TSX Tech Executive of the Year. The award was won last year by Wi-LAN’s Jim Skippen and the year prior by Catamaran’s Mark Thierer. Ask any CEO about his company’s most valuable asset, and he will, without fail, respond by telling you it is the employees of said concern.
Is this just a platitude, or does it actually mean something? At the junior level, where companies might employ ten to fifty people, a charismatic CEO can indeed carry the mail.
But spread a deficiency in people power across two, three, or ten-thousand employees and its easy to see why cultivating and acknowledging a loyal and engaged staff can represent the difference between winning and losing business.
The experiences of the three nominees for Cantech Letter TSX Tech Exec of the Year couldn’t be more different. But each this year has tipped his hat to those on the organizational chart beneath him, and will without doubt share the award with them if voted by you as winner.
Here are the nominees, as chosen by our judges. They are listed in alphabetical order, by last name. You can vote for your choice in the poll at the bottom of the page.
We’d like to point out once again that we’re very grateful to have the event sponsored by the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange. Cantech Letter, the award winners, and many of the analysts who will vote on the awards will open the trading day on Friday, January 11, 2013, with an official Market Open Ceremony. We’d also like to thank sponsor Heenan Blaikie, who will be joining us for the presentation.
Michael Donovan, DHX Media (TSX:DHX)
2012 was DHX Media’s statement year. This was the year CEO Michael Donovan transformed the Halifax-based company’s vision from promise to practice.
The punctuation mark on Donovan’s year at the helm was the approximately $111 million acquisition of Toronto-based Cookie Jar Entertainment, a deal that would add $56.7-million to DHX’s topline. Along the way, DHX Became the largest supplier of children’s entertainment to Netflix.
Founded in 2006, DHX Media boasts a library of over 2,525 half-hours of film and television, including Animal Mechanicals, Rastamouse, Angela Anaconda and the hit Yo Gabba Gabba! The company has quietly become a leader in kids TV. DHX has signed more than 1,200 license deals with over 150 children’s networks worldwide, including the BBC, Cartoon Network, PBS, The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. The company’s fiscal 2012 revenue of $72.7-million was up 31% from the $55.4-million topline the company posted a year prior.
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Thorsten Heins, Research in Motion (TSX:RIM)
For the first ten months of Thorsten Heins tenure, he endured more doubt and scrutiny and outright ridicule than any rookie CEO should have to suffer. Regardless, Heins plodded on as the delay of RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 platform seemed to stretch to an eternity. But now, with BlackBerry 10 a little more than a month away, critics seem to be understanding that Heins is no shrinking violet. Many analysts have recently reconsidered RIM’s prospects, and decided that the worst case scenario and the most likely scenario are further apart than they first thought.
Cormark analyst Richard Tse says RIM’s platform transition remains an uphill battle, but RIM’s “surprising operational progress” has given it wiggle room between BlackBerry 7 and BlackBerry 10 that many critics didn’t think the company could spare.
Michael Roach, CGI Group (TSX:GIB.A)
At CGI Group’s annual general meeting a couple years ago, CEO Michael Roach was grilled repeatedly by shareholders on the subject of the company declaring a dividend. Roach explained why it was not in the cards for the company. “Personally, I would fare very well from a dividend,” he said. “I kiddingly say, ‘My wife would love a dividend”.
Roach clarified his belief that dividends are not the most effective way to use cash, and that it is better to deliver superior returns over time. This year, Roach provided the best example yet of his differing approach to growing shareholder value, with the audacious acquisition of London-based Logica Plc for $2.64 billion. After announcing the pickup of a company larger than itself, CGI passed Research in Motion to become Canada most valuable tech stock, a position it surrendered only last week. CGI Group now ranks as the sixth largest independent information technology and business process services firm in the world.