Seasoned Leadership in Action™! An Interview with David Cefai, CIO at IMax!

David Cefai

At Supply Chain Game Changer we believe in sharing experiences and expertise from people in every industry and from across the globe.  As such we have introduced our “Seasoned Leadership in Action” Interview series at Supply Chain Game Changer.  This interview is with David Cefai, CIO at IMax.

I first met David while at Celestica.  David was that rare mix of individual who could easily, effectively and seamlessly work across any function.  I saw  David work in and between I/T and Supply Chain with such incredible skill that when combined with his winning personality it made his career success inevitable.

I remember talking with David after he had left Celestica.  He made the point to me that until he left the company he didn’t realize what phenomenal experience and capability we had developed within us, and what a tremendous contribution we could make in any industry as our expertise truly was transferable.  That message always stuck with me and I have imparted that advice to many others along the way.

From High End Technology to Energy Management to Gold Mining to the Movies, David has had a remarkable career.  When you consider the importance of technology today in any business such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and the Digital Supply Chain, you can appreciate how important an interview with someone of David’s skill would be.

Thank you David  for your friendship and taking the time to share your experiences and expertise with us.

Here is our interview with a truly great leader and diverse Industry Game Changer, David Cefai!

Tell our Readers a little about your background and experience!

I have worked in several industries throughout my career. Starting with IBM/Celestica in increasing roles of responsibilities but my main two roles were VP of IT Strategic Solutions and VP of Global Supply Chain operations.

I was the VP of IT for Kinross Gold which is a $3B gold mining company and I am currently the SVP of IT for IMAX.  I have degrees in Electrical Engineering and Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and an MBA from York University.

My main forte is being able to bridge the gaps between technical and business organizations.  You can see full bio and profile on

What are some of your greatest achievements in Supply Chain and in Business?

I am very proud of many of the accomplishments of the various teams I have led throughout my career but I would say the major ones would be:

  • Helping Launch Celestica and growing it to a $10B electronic manufacturing company.We completely changed ALL enterprise level applications when we moved from IBM to Celestica, including a global SAP deployment, new shop floor/manufacturing tools and building an enterprise data warehouse.  In addition, we built one of the most sophisticated and capable supply chain tool suites in the industry.
  • IT Turnaround at Kinross Gold. Took a very immature IT organization and turned it into a high performing team that successfully deployed JD Edwards globally and dramatically improved system availability.  Also took the employee satisfaction within the team from one of the lowest in the company to the highest over a 3 year period.
  • In process of doing a similar IT Turnaround at IMAX. Currently 2.5 years into the job and have already overhauled our global IT infrastructure, continue to implement SAP and currently working on the digitization of IMAX.

How has Business and the Supply Chain changed over the course of your career?

I would say the biggest changes in Business and Supply Chain revolve around technology.  We are working increasingly in a more connected world with more use of automation. Now with cloud technologies and the Internet of Things we have the potential for greater use of Artificial intelligence and automation to drive many of our business processes.

What are some of the lessons you learned in your career that you would like to share for others to learn from?

While many of the lessons could fall in the category of motherhood statements I truly feel they have been the key to my career success.

  • Start with people. Build a strong team of people that are smarter than you around you and then motivate them to contribute their best by challenging them and treating them as human beings with a tremendous amount of respect.
  • Make sure objectives and deliverables are clear and then help remove road blocks whether they be financial, organizational or political in nature.
  • Ask for feedback often. Good or bad. View any critical feedback as an opportunity to improve rather than to be defensive about.
  • Good or bad take ownership of what you and your team does.  I have learned it is better to say you screwed up and this is how you will fix the situation rather than trying to deflect blame.

What challenges facing the world are most important to you?

Climate change.  I feel we are living unsustainable lives and need to dramatically alter the way we live.  Focusing more on enhancing lives of those around us and less on consumption.

What is the role of Business, Supply Chain and Change Leadership in solving this problem?

I think Supply Chains around the world will need to play a part in helping solve this problem.  How do we use more sustainable processes and material, and how can we source more material closer to its consumption point are simple examples of how supply chains can help in solving this problem. I think once the capitalist engine is properly incented to help solve this problem it will truly help in moving the needle in this space.

What are you working on now?

The main program we are working on now is the Digitization of IMAX.  IMAX has grown significantly over the last few years.  We are now in over 1600 theatres in 75 countries around the world. While the growth has been tremendous our internal business processes have not been able to keep up with this change.

We have had to rethink the way we run our core business to drive more operational efficiency and leverage. Digitize IMAX is focused on streamlining and reducing the time and effort from receipt of movies from our studio partners, converting into IMAX format and distributing to our theatres globally.

What advice would you give people starting, or in the midst of, their careers?

The only advice I can give is do what you are passionate about.  Whether that is business or supply chain.  The other factor I love about a career in Supply Chain (or in my case IT) is the fact that these skills are transferrable to many different industries as evident from my career path, High tech to gold mining to the movie industry. If you can learn to solve problems you will have a great career.

How can people contact you.

I can be reached at [email protected]

Originally published on May 15, 2018.

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