4 min read | November 7, 2022
Meet the Board Blog Series: Kevin Ford, CEO and Board Member
Seven company- and shareholder-elected members make up the Calian Group Ltd. Board of Directors. The board contributes to the strategy and governance of Calian. This “Meet the Board Blog Series” profiles each board member.
Name: Kevin Ford
Titles: CEO and Member of the Board of Directors, Calian Group Ltd.
Year Joined the Board: January 2015
Kevin Ford LinkedIn Profile
Q1. Tell us a bit about your career history, Kevin.
For starters, I do not have a formal education. People are generally surprised to learn I am a high school graduate. I did not let that stop me. I have always loved challenges and finding ways to better myself and grow, both personally and professionally. I am a practical leader who came through the mail room and successfully grew through the ranks both in the government and private sectors.
I began my career in the Canadian Department of National Defence where I remained for close to 15 years. I started working in data centres, then computer programming and eventually leading a multitude of projects. I made the jump to the private sector in 1996 at DMR Group and later joined LGS Group (acquired by IBM) in 1999 where I was a partner for over 10 years. I joined Calian in 2010 as President, Business and Technology Services Division and was promoted to CEO in April 2015. During my tenure as CEO, I completed 18 acquisitions and have transformed the company from a conservative dividend story to a growth story.
Q2. What is the single highlight of your career thus far?
The most memorable for me was opening the Toronto Stock Exchange on April 8, 2016, or “ringing the bell” as they say. It was a bold move. Calian was a company under the radar, essentially a “sleeper” company. I wanted to send a signal to the market that we were transforming, and it was time to take a second look at our story. We changed our name to Calian Group Ltd from Calian Technology Ltd and our ticker symbol from CTY to CGY. It was important for me to have the word “Group” in our name to reference that we were a diversified company. Today our tag line “stability through diversity, growth through innovation” says it all.
Q3. Consider your tenure as CEO and member of the board. What are your high-5s?
#1 high: Evolving culture. Evolving the culture from an engineering and technology foundation to include a marketing, sales and growth mindset.
#2 high: Aligning the company to a growth strategy. Making growth part of the fabric or DNA of the company.
#3 high: Balancing organic growth and acquisitions. Our objective is to grow five per cent organically and five per cent by acquisition for a total of 10 per cent on an annual basis. Since I became CEO, we completed 18 acquisitions and evolved our M&A playbook over time. Executing both organic and acquisitive growth is not an easy task but over the past five years we have surpassed our objective every year.
#4 high: Getting through a global pandemic. We had two record years in a global pandemic. That to me is a high five to our staff. There were no existing tools in the toolbox to tell us what to do. We had to create, in real time, the environment that allowed our staff to be safe and still operate a company in numerous regions of the world.
#5 high: Taking care of our people. Making sure that our employees take care of themselves is very important. I had a health scare a few years back and it acts as a reminder that health matters. You can grow a company but if you can’t do it in a way that is healthy, both mentally and physically, for you and your staff, it is probably not a journey worth taking. People matter and we need them safe and healthy.
Q4. What is your elevator pitch to potential investors?
If you are looking to invest in a company giving you access to four very distinct segments, with a domestic and a global growth opportunity, a proven track record of profitable execution and a management team committed to growing the right way, then buy Calian!
Q5. Why do you think ESG is important?
We are not doing ESG because we need a report. We have always been a good corporate citizen, considering the world we live in, not just through a profit lens. Our mission “Calian helps the world communicate, innovate, learn and lead safe and healthy lives” is the start of our ESG journey. What we do matters. We are excited by the opportunity of publishing our inaugural sustainability report at the end of November which will tell our story and highlight all the initiatives we are doing across our diverse company in support of ESG.
Have you read the previous articles published in this blog series?
Meet George Weber, Calian Chair of the Board.
March 24, 2023
Calian Delivers Domestic Operations Exercises: Training the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for Domestic Response
Calian successfully delivered two exercises for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), preparing them for activation as part of a domestic disaster response, in their role of providing aid to the civil authority.
Optimizing Police and Healthcare Resources with On-Site Medical Services
Calian worked with a large municipal law enforcement agency to increase public safety through excellence in the prevention, intervention and suppression of crime and disorder.
March 20, 2023
Calian Supports French Military Exercise: 12,000 Troops with NATO Participants
Calian works directly with military customers to design, develop and deliver simulation-based training for individual skills development and collective training for high-readiness units. We deliver training for NATO and NATO members, relying on simulation technology solutions and our highly experienced training team.