Q: How did your previous position with AFM help prepare you for your new role at ICID? A: I was at the AFM for a little over 11 years, which introduced me to working with government, how to look at provincial, national and international policies and what it meant to be part of working groups that developed policies not only for Canada, but for countries around the world, as well. I think the opportunity helped prepare me for my role at ICID. The other thing I found interesting once I got here is the clients I worked with at the foundation have similar issues to those individuals who are affected by infectious diseases. Although we don’t deliver client services directly, we still have an impact in relation to the policies and educational programs we develop. For instance, we recently signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with UNICEF Ukraine to develop an intervention program in partnership with the University of Manitoba that will be delivered to sex-trade workers and injection-drug users to help reduce the spread of HIV. We are excited about this initiative. Q: Most new CEOs want to make an immediate impact. What changes did you implement right away? A: When a new CEO comes in, there are going to be some things that make them wonder, “Why are they doing it that way? Wouldn’t this way be more efficient?” Yet, it’s important to bite your tongue and bide your time because you’re not fully aware of the dynamics behind those things. Until you do, it’s better not to make wholesale changes. As hard as it is, you really have to focus on being the listener and not the “sayer.” The only way to learn about the history of the business and the reason why things are done a certain way is simply to ask questions and to listen. When I came to this organization in October, I made a commitment not to make any major changes for 90 days, and I’m glad I did. My views on how we might do things differently changed as I came to learn more about the business and understand how people worked and how their individual strengths and skill sets can contribute to where this organization will go in the future. Q: You came in just as ICID was developing a strategic plan. Was this timing beneficial to you? A: Six weeks into this job, I was fortunate to be able to take part in a strategic planning session with our board, and that was a very helpful process as it allowed me to share my vision of where I think this organization should be. It was also very timely. Over the last couple of years, one of ICID’s main focuses was bringing an HIV vaccine manufacturing facility to Winnipeg. When this project was cancelled by the funders, ICID needed to refocus and redefine its direction. An evaluation of our stakeholders helped us to identify what was most valued by those who use our services and better articulate our role in this business. One of the stakeholders told us we’re an organization of 100 bright lights — we’re just not sure which one to focus on. So my challenge has been to get greater alignment and to narrow our focus on a few mainstreams of business activity. One we have had some success with is in the area of biosafety training. We work closely with the National Microbiology Lab here in Winnipeg on training lab personnel from around the world on working within and managing safe and secure labs. One day, I can see us expanding our relationships with other potential partners to develop a biosafety and biosecurity centre of excellence in Winnipeg. With our vision, mission and values in place, we can start to focus our efforts, define our product offerings and narrow those beams of light from 100 to, hopefully, 10.