People on the Move: Michele Bedford looks to boost Calian’s global profile

Michele Bedford
Michele Bedford is the chief commercial officer at Calian Group.

After spending more than a decade in various marketing jobs at one of the world’s best-known tech companies, Michele Bedford thinks it’s time for a hidden corporate gem headquartered in her hometown to get a bit of the spotlight.

Bedford is settling into her new role as chief commercial officer at Calian Group, a Kanata-based firm that’s quietly become one of the region’s most prominent publicly traded companies. 

The 46-year-old Ottawa native was hired in late 2020 with the goal of boosting Calian’s profile on the national and global stage. She’s also responsible for implementing common sales procedures across the firm’s four product divisions and helping Calian raise its game when it comes to bidding on lucrative government and private-sector contracts.

Those are all skills Bedford honed during an 11-year stint at Microsoft, where she began her career in the firm’s Ottawa office devising marketing strategies for the tech powerhouse’s Canadian operations before moving south to Microsoft’s head office in Redmond, Wash., near Seattle.

A mother of two boys aged 12 and 15, Bedford returned to Ottawa two years ago to be closer to family and reacquaint her children with the country where they were born. While working remotely for Microsoft, she began seeking the “right fit in a Canadian-based company” and believes she’s found it in Calian.

Now at more than 4,400 employees, Calian generated revenues of more than $430 million in fiscal 2020. The highly diversified company operates medical clinics, runs military training exercises, provides IT consulting and cybersecurity services and makes mobile wireless products, satellite antennas and other technology.

Yet perhaps because it doesn’t specialize in one clearly definable product, Calian often remains an afterthought in any discussion of leading Canadian tech firms. Bedford hopes to change that.

“The good part is the technology is there, the innovation is there, the customer success is there,” she explains. “Now it’s a matter of telling that story publicly.”

Now living in the same Kanata neighbourhood of Beaverbrook where she grew up, Bedford has come full circle.

While attending Clarkson University, a small school in upstate New York where she studied electrical engineering and business management, Bedford took a marketing class as an elective and was instantly hooked. 

“It was awesome,” she says. “I just thought marketing was where it was at. I never looked back.”

That led to her first job as a market analyst at Kanata-based telecom giant Mitel. Her then-boss Dave Curley – now the chief revenue officer at Ottawa software firm Assent Compliance – steered her away from doing an MBA, assuring her she’d learn more from working with him and his team than she would in graduate school.

“He was right,” Bedford says with a smile. “I went to work for Dave straight out of college, and I learned a ton. That’s sort of the story of my whole career. Where could I learn the most was where I went.”

She followed Curley to Ottawa software firms Bridgewater Systems and Texar, among other stops in a career that’s seen her work with both multinational corporations and fledgling startups. 

Along the way, she adds, her STEM background has been indispensable in a way most outside observers might not appreciate.

“Marketing is math,” she explains, contending that all successful sales campaigns rely on carefully analyzed data. “We’re not the softer side of the business – we’re the value-generation side of the business.”

People on the move across Ottawa

Jim McConnery has assumed the role of managing partner at Welch LLP. McConnery, who’s been a partner at Welch since 2007, takes over for Micheal Burch, who held the position for nearly 13 years and will stay on with Welch in a “small role” to help build the firm’s family wealth advisory practice.

KPMG has appointed longtime Ottawa partner Andrew Newman as managing partner for the firm’s Ottawa and Kanata offices. Newman succeeds Grant McDonald, who held the job for nearly a decade and will now focus on his role as the global head of KPMG’s aerospace and defence practice.

Raymond Bohn has been appointed president and CEO of NAV Canada. Bohn was most recently NAV Canada’s executive vice-president and chief human resources officer.

EY Canada has named Warren Tomlin managing partner of the firm’s National Capital Region office. Prior to joining EY, Tomlin held senior management positions with IBM, Accenture, Fuel Industries and Canada Post.

Thales Canada has appointed Chris Pogue as its new managing director of defence and security. Before joining Thales, Pogue spent two years as president of defence firm MDA’s government operations and, in a career that spans nearly 20 years as a defence executive, has also had stints at General Dynamics Canada and CAE Canada.

Fasken Ottawa has welcomed two new associates to its team. Nabila Abdul Malik practises predominantly in the areas of civil and commercial litigation, international and domestic arbitration, white-collar crime, international trade and investment. Her work has taken her from the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia to the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Shannon Kristjanson focuses on corporate/commercial, procurement and national security law. She has been involved in a variety of transactions for both private and publicly held companies, including mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations and financings.

The Ottawa Real Estate Board has elected a new board of directors for 2021 that includes president Debra Wright, past-president Deborah Burgoyne, president-elect Penny Torontow and vice-president Ken Dekker. Joining them are directors Chris A. Brown, Danny Dawson, Paolo Farago, Curtis Fillier, Tony McDermott, Erin Peck, Jake Prescott, Anne Scharf and Ralph Shaw.

Hats off

D-Squared Construction was honoured with a Philanthropy Service recognition in the Growth 2020 Awards from Canadian Business for its track record of deep involvement in its community.