Russell Reynolds Associates Seeks CEO for Canada’s SCALE AI

Russell Reynolds Associates CEO SCALE AI

June 28, 2018 – Russell Reynolds Associates has been enlisted to find the new CEO for SCALE AI, Canada’s artificial intelligence supercluster, dedicated to building the next-generation intelligent supply chain. It is one of five superclusters selected by the Canadian government as part of its recent innovative to spur innovation between research and industry.

The search is being conducted by Fawad Bajwa and Jack Hind Smith, who are based in Russell Reynolds’ Toronto office.

The CEO will be responsible for providing vision, leadership and direction to SCALE AI’s activities to deliver on its mission, said the search firm. The new leader will be charged with managing the collective’s resources, both personnel and fiscal. The individual will also be expected to serve as ambassador for the supercluster and will be called upon to represent SCALE AI externally with industry partners, government officials and other external stakeholders on a global basis. The role is based in Montréal.

The New Leader

Key leadership objectives and operational responsibilities for the CEO will include: Define a bold vision, develop a detailed strategy and immediately begin to deliver small wins that build confidence among industry and government partners; breed a novel culture of collaboration in the ecosystem, effectively bringing together competitors for the common, greater good of the industry and country; stand-up processes and procedures to fulfill government funding related obligations; and strike a balance between having enough oversight without the burden of bureaucracy.

The ideal candidate is expected to be a dynamic, pragmatic and inspirational leader who has the ability to set ambitious goals and strategy, yet join in the daily work of developing operational plans, and developing and inspiring others to exceed expectations, said Russell Reynolds. As a charismatic and results oriented leader, the new CEO must have a track record of accomplishment in leading supply chain enabled organizations through strategic growth and technological change, ideally with exposure to AI technologies.


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Candidates are required to have: more than 20 years experience with organizations in which supply chain is considered a strategic advantage (e.g., manufacturing / production, transportation, retail, etc.); ability to manage multiple CXO-level stakeholders from industry partner organizations; strong technology exposure, with appreciation for practical applications of AI, as well as IoT/ robotics / blockchain; ability to interact credibly with industry CIOs, AI academics and entrepreneurs; a proven track record of driving innovation/scaling transformative technologies with an entrepreneurial drive (e.g., solving with a big picture in mind as opposed to solving incremental problems); and direct experience with business casing and portfolio / capital-allocation management.

Candidate Requirements

The ideal candidate must also demonstrate a wide range of capabilities, said the search firm, including strategy skills, such as the ability to create and articulate an inspiring vision for the organization; the inclination to seek and analyze data from a variety of sources; an entrepreneurial and creative approach to developing new, innovative ideas that will stretch the organization and push the boundaries within the industry.

As a business-led and not-for-profit consortium, SCALE AI will drive economic growth, bolster Canada’s leadership in the global AI innovation race, create highly skilled jobs and accelerate the adoption of new AI technologies.

SCALE AI has been initiated by two world-class research centers, IVADO (contributing AI and data science) and the University of Waterloo (contributing IoT and robotics). SCALE AI currently has 120 partners, including 80 industrial firms of all sizes, a network of 12 academic institutions coast-to-coast, with the best of Canada’s expertise in AI, and 28 enabling organizations (e.g., incubators, funds, professional associations, international partners).

Search Professionals 

Russell Reynolds’ Mr. Bajwa, executive director, conducts C-suite and senior executive assignments for clients in the healthcare, industrial and energy and natural resources sectors around the world. He is a member of the firm’s corporate officers practice and specializes in operations and commercial talent.

Prior to joining Russell Reynolds Associates, Mr. Bajwa was a management consultant with A.T. Kearney, where he led engagements on strategy, operations and organization related topics. His expertise included strategic due diligences and post-acquisition operating models, organization and cost transformations, as well as end-to-end supply chain optimizations. During his tenure there, his experience spanned CPG, industrial, natural resources and healthcare industries. Previously, he was a consultant with Deloitte, where he worked on technology strategy and transformation topics. Earlier in his career, Mr. Bajwa worked in various engineering and operations roles at ExxonMobil, Autoliv (legacy Ford Visteon manufacturing) and Kraft Foods.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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