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CDN’s Top 25 Newsmakers of 2015 – No 7: Bernadette Wightman

Former Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman

If grand entrances was a factor in making the CDN Top 25 Newsmaker’s list than Bernadette Wightman would place No. 1. 

Wightman’s timing in coming to Canada after running Cisco Russia could not have been better scripted. She arrived as the company planned to host all of its global partners in Montreal at the Cisco Partner Summit. Only the second time in its history that’s it’s been held outside of the U.S. On top of that Cisco’s technology partnership with the PamAm Games in Toronto made Wightman a household name in the industry practically overnight.

She also helped her own cause but smartly using the social media tools available to her to get her key messages out. But more than that Wightman has been available to channel partners, customers and employees almost at a moment’s notice. 

Anecdotally CDN has learned from partners and employees that Wightman, in a short time (a little over 14 months), has provided more support from a leadership-level than any other past leader.

Cisco Partner Summit and PanAm Games aside, Wightman moved swiftly in 2015 to implement a new agenda for Cisco Canada. She outlined a rollout of eight new $100 million Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centres.

She redefined all roles at Cisco Canada to be sales roles. 

Made software a priority for the subsidiary by shifting more internal resources towards it and emphasising new partner programs aligned to enhance the software practice and hybrid IT. 

Possibly Wightman’s most significant move was promoting the digital transformation business opportunity for the country of Canada. Wightman told CDN and many other media outlets that she believes Canada will become the first digital country in North America. 

Wightman is working with the Federal Government and all of the mayors of the major cities in Canada to showcase the value of becoming a digital city and country. “This is a huge opportunity in Canada and we want to put that vertical consulting expertise on it,” she said in a previous interview. 

Cisco Canada is doing its part in furthering the digital story of the country. Wightman said the new Cisco Canada headquarters will be “the smartest building in Canada.”

Click here to check out the full list of CDN’s Top 25 Newsmakers of 2015.