Calian’s Kevin Ford named CEO of the Year

Kevin Ford
Calian CEO Kevin Ford. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

After leading one of Ottawa’s largest publicly traded corporations through a string of acquisitions, its largest contract win in its 35-year history and a record $275 million in revenues last year, Calian Group chief executive Kevin Ford has been named the 2017 CEO of the Year.

The annual award is jointly presented by the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.

Under Mr. Ford’s leadership, Calian’s share price has risen more than 60 per cent. The Ottawa native also kickstarted a drive to expand through acquisitions. Since he joined the company in 2010, Calian has bought five companies, including four Ottawa-based firms.

Mr. Ford has also led the effort to rebrand a company that many still think of as an IT staffing firm despite its longstanding presence in the health-care services and satellite component manufacturing sectors.

More recently, he’s guided the firm to the biggest contract win in its 35-year history – a renewed 12-year deal signed last month to provide health-care services to the Canadian Armed Forces that could be worth up to a billion dollars.

“While I appreciate this award, especially considering its esteemed list of previous recipients, for me, this award is about the great things we're doing as a team at Calian, and leveraging the great foundation of the previous CEO," Mr. Ford said.

After working as a key-punch operator at software outfit Computel, Mr. Ford joined the Department of National Defence where he worked in applications management for more than a decade before transitioning to the private sector in 1996.

Prior to joining Calian, he worked as a sales executive at IT consulting firm DMR before moving to competitor LGS, which was eventually bought out by IBM.

During his time with Big Blue, he led IBM’s global defence sector before being lured to Calian in 2010 and helping to grow the Kanata-based firm.

“Calian is one of those landmark Ottawa technology companies that has demonstrated a remarkable ability to endure and reach new heights,” said OBJ publisher Michael Curran. “Imagine, after 35 years, it’s breaking the $250-million revenue threshold and pushing deeper into health care with a new contract that could be worth $1 billion over 12 years. And, in our opinion, this new push is coming from the inspired leadership of Kevin Ford.”

Outside of the office, Mr. Ford spearheaded the drive to create the Kanata North BIA and served as the organization’s first chairman. He’s also a longtime minor hockey coach and can still be found behind the bench on a Wednesday night at the Metcalfe arena.

“We are thrilled to recognize and honour Kevin Ford for his vision, passion and leadership,” said Ian Faris, the president and CEO of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. “Under his leadership Calian Group has risen to new heights expanding across the globe. He is a true local and international ambassador for Ottawa.”

Mr. Ford will be honoured at the Best Ottawa Business Awards gala at the Westin Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Individual tickets and group tables are available here.

To read a full profile of Mr. Ford, read Monday’s print or digital edition of OBJ.