Overview

The Vector Institute (Vector) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), excelling in deep learning and machine learning more broadly. It was founded with a vision to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. Vector was launched in March 2017 with generous support from the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, and private industry, in partnership with the University of Toronto and other universities. Since then, Vector’s programs have helped Ontario companies apply AI across sectors and secured the province’s position as a world-leading AI hub of both talent and investment attraction. The Vector Institute is governed by a highly accomplished volunteer Board of Directors drawn from private sector, public sector, academic and research communities.

Vector is among the catalysts for AI and tech-related investments that has generated a ten-fold+ return on governments’ investments over a five-year period. Over the past year alone, Ontario has created approximately 22,000 AI jobs and helped retain an additional nearly 60,000 more, with over 270+ companies having invested in the Ontario AI ecosystem last year alone. Vector trained over 6,300 participants in 2021-22, including professionals from 40+ companies, through applied AI projects, upskilling workshops, and knowledge transfer programs. With Vector’s leadership and support, Ontario is expected to graduate more than 1,000 students from AI master’s programs over the past year, exceeding the province’s 2023 target ahead of schedule, which contribute to a highly-skilled workforce in Ontario and the largest AI ecosystem in North America outside of Silicon Valley.

The Vector Institute’s vision is to drive excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation, and use of AI to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. Its mission is to:

  • Lead Ontario’s efforts to build and sustain AI-based innovation, growth and productivity in Canada by focusing on the transformative potential of deep learning and machine learning.
  • Work with Canadian industry, in collaboration with public institutions and other AI partners, to ensure that they have the people, skills, and resources to be best in class at the use of AI.
  • To support Canada’s innovation clusters in AI with a focus on helping startups grow to become Canadian-based global leaders.
  • To attract the best global talent focused on research excellence – where researchers and academic partners become part of a vibrant ecosystem of innovative problem-solvers, working across disciplines on both curiosity-driven and applied research.

Below are some selected areas where the Vector Institute is having impact:

  • Vector’s expert teams work directly with Ontario businesses to foster AI applications that create value by equipping industry professionals with hands-on experience working with applied AI models and providing tools and 1-on-1 guidance to simplify AI implementation. Vector also delivers training and knowledge transfer around applied AI for thousands of industry professionals, helping companies stay current with the latest advances in AI.
  • Vector ensures cutting-edge research moves beyond the lab to serve as foundations for applications in financial services, manufacturing, information technology, and health. Vector supports intellectual property (IP) commercialization as a key objective, which includes supporting entrepreneurial researchers and startup founders in filing and commercializing IP to benefit Ontarians.
  • Vector’s Smart Health initiative is driving health innovation that improves efficiencies and care across Ontario. Specifically, Vector’s health team works with its partners to develop frameworks to improve access to data for AI with a focus on security, privacy, and confidentiality. Vector supports Ontario hospitals in the adoption of machine learning applications and partners on health data initiatives, and it also plays a vital role in scaling and deploying health innovations across Ontario by hiring AI practitioners and working with health partners across a number of institutions.
  • Vector helps universities respond to the rapid rise in demand for AI talent by working with specific AI programs and employers to connect high potential talent through relevant degree programs to career opportunities that will transform Ontario’s economy. Vector also provides first-in-line access to AI talent recruitment and retention support through various events and a dedicated AI job board.
  • Vector contributes to thought leadership and AI expertise on important policy considerations and critical issues at the intersection of AI and society to support responsible AI adoption that benefits all Ontarians. This thought leadership includes creating non-competitive environments where businesses develop frameworks for addressing industry-wide challenges such as data governance and trustworthy AI.

 

The Role

Reporting to the Vector Institute’s Board, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will be responsible for setting the vision and multi-year strategy for the Vector Institute, overseeing all aspects of the organization’s operations. The CEO will ensure the Vector Institute delivers on its four key mandates, namely (i) top 10 world-leading centre for machine learning and deep learning research, (ii) expand partnerships with Canadian industry through programs for talent, training, and applied AI projects, (iii) enable effective & appropriate research access to health data, and iv) lead discussions on Canada’s and Ontario’s role in AI, including economic and societal impacts.

The CEO will also develop and evolve a policy framework around AI initiatives and catalyze collaboration with Canadian ecosystem partners to enable startups, scaleups, and SMEs to leverage AI and compete more effectively in the global economy. The goal of this collaboration is to ensure Ontario’s early-mover advantage by accelerating applied AI in Ontario businesses to fuel economic growth and global competitive advantage. As well, this is a chance for the new CEO to shape the AI ecosystem by funding a broader field of fellows and civil society organizations – that will have a lasting impact for many decades to come.

Other key priorities and focus areas for this role include:

  • Crystalize what the evolution of AI means for Canada: for universities and for businesses, including the identification of investment opportunities to fill technology and service gaps.
  • Support the growth, sustainability, and commercialization of Canadian AI organizations (both established companies and startups) by partnering with Canadian industry and public institutions to ensure that they have the people, skills and resources to be best-in-class.
  • Increase AI job growth, attract international investment, and grow AI talent in Ontario.
  • Help AI organizations to navigate the complexities of emerging AI trends and shape the development of consultations on AI regulation in Canada.
  • Engage governments who have stated commitments to AI, ensuring their investments are deployed in the most impactful way possible.
  • Help build a world-leading researcher and sponsor ecosystem around AI.
  • Attract and build a talent pipeline to ensure the Vector Institute has the right leadership, capabilities, and resources to successfully fulfil its ambitious mission.

Candidate Profile

The CEO will be a dynamic, visionary, innovative leader with AI literacy (e.g., around policy matters and applications for AI) and a passionate belief in the transformative power of AI, exceptional organizational leadership skills, and proven experience growing/scaling technology enabled organizations. The successful candidate will balance commercial leadership with a focus on both mission and purpose. They will be a highly credible, influential, and respected leader within the Canadian marketplace capable of taking the Vector Institute to the next level. This executive will have the ability to lead a mission-driven organization and work effectively across a wide range of stakeholders (e.g., industry sponsors, businesses of all sizes including startups, researchers/universities, etc.). They will be well-networked tapped into diverse ecosystems, and adept at making connections and forging partnerships across a wide range of stakeholder groups.

The successful candidate will have a proven track record of building, developing, and retaining high impact teams. As well, they will have exceptional interpersonal, communications, and presentation skills required to lead a dynamic team, interact effectively and drive consensus with the Board, and build key strategic relationships within private industry and the public sector. Exposure to the broader public and not-for-profit sectors (e.g., universities, health, governments) is advantageous but not essential.

In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:

Setting Strategy

  • The ability to create and articulate an inspiring vision for the organization.
  • The inclination to seek and analyze data from a variety of sources to support decisions and to align others with the organization’s overall strategy.
  • An entrepreneurial and creative approach to developing new and innovative ideas that will stretch the organization and push the boundaries within the industry.
  • The ability to effectively balance a desire/need for broad change with an understanding of how much change the organization is capable of handling and to create realistic goals with implementation plans that are both achievable and successful.

Executing for Results

  • The ability to set clear and challenging goals while committing the organization to improved performance; tenacious and accountable in driving results.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty; the ability to adapt nimbly and lead others through complex situations.
  • A risk-taker who seeks data and input from others to foresee possible threats or unintended circumstances from decisions; someone who takes smart risks.
  • A leader who is viewed by others as having a high degree of integrity and forethought in their approach to making decisions; the ability to act in a transparent and consistent manner while always considering what is best for the organization.

Leading Teams

  • The ability to attract and recruit top talent, motivate a team, delegate effectively, celebrate diversity, and manage performance; widely viewed as a strong developer of others.
  • The ability to persevere in the face of challenges and exhibit a steadfast resolve and relentless commitment to higher standards, which commands respect from followers.
  • A leader who is self-reflective and aware of their own limitations; leads by example and drives the organization’s performance with an attitude of continuous improvement by being open to feedback and self-improvement.

Relationships and Influence

  • Naturally connects and builds strong relationships with others, demonstrating strong emotional intelligence and an ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.
  • An ability to inspire trust and followership in others through compelling influence, powerful charisma, passion in their beliefs, and active drive.
  • Encourages others to share the spotlight and visibly celebrates and supports the success of the team.
  • Creates a sense of purpose/meaning for the team that generates followership beyond her/his own personality and engages others to the greater purpose for the organization as a whole.

Driving Sustainability

  • Integrates economic, societal, and environmental factors into a purpose-driven strategy, turning sustainability into a competitive advantage.
  • Understands and incorporates viewpoints from all key stakeholders to drive decision making and share the benefits.
  • Delivers breakthrough innovations and business models that create value for all stakeholders, continually challenging traditional approaches.
  • Sets audacious business and sustainability goals, driving concerted action and investments, and stays the course in the face of setbacks or push-back from short-term oriented stakeholders.

HOW TO APPLY

Vector has chosen to partner with Russell Reynolds Associates to conduct this search. As such, please address applications (cover letter and resume) to Russell Reynolds Associates, using VectorInstitute-CEOrole@russellreynolds.com.

At the Vector Institute we are committed to driving excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation, and use of AI to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. We strive for greater inclusion in the programs and culture that we build by welcoming and encouraging applications from all qualified candidates. This includes but is not limited to applicants who are Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ+, racialized persons/visible minorities, women, and people with disabilities.

If you require an accommodation at any point throughout the recruitment and selection process, please contact VectorInstitute-CEOrole@russellreynolds.com and we will happily work with you to meet your needs.

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