The incoming president and CEO of Infrastructure Ontario says his life has been spent at the intersection of the public and the private sectors, seeking partnerships and opportunities to create value for taxpayers and users.
And now, more than ever, Michael Lindsay says he is ready to work with the government and industry partners to get through the pandemic and continue to make progress building the province’s infrastructure.
“For projects under construction, definitely continuing to work with our private sector partners on how to continue to make progress is the most urgent thing we face now,” he told the Daily Commercial News following the announcement made by Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott Sept. 18.
“Over the longer term, getting after that capital pipeline and making sure we are creating vibrant, competitive procurements and designing solutions whether it’s for transit systems or some of the hospital projects in our pipeline equally is something we are going to be investing a lot of time and effort in,” said Scott.
IO exists to create value out of — or modernize — the public assets of the province with partners in both the public and private sectors, states the agency’s website.
Lindsay, who will take over Nov. 1, has been president of project delivery at IO for the past 16 months. Prior to that he was head of commercial projects.
“My team is responsible for the delivery of all capital projects in our pipeline. Having been the head of project delivery for the last year I already have relationships with partners and stakeholders,” he said. “I’m not a completely new face. We continue to have a high volume of conversations with our partners around our projects the way which we deliver them.
“We’re going to be talking and communicating a lot. We’re going to be doing a lot of listening too.”
His experience at IO, the private sector and as a special adviser to government on transit make him well suited to lead IO, said the agency’s board of directors in a statement.
Lindsay’s private-sector experience includes the position of global director of infrastructure planning and advisory at Hatch and he also served as an associate principal with McKinsey and Company where he was a core leader of the Canadian Public Sector Practice.
“My aim has been to try and make public assets and services as efficient and effective as they possibly can be,” he said. “The organization where I think I’ve had the most indelible experiences has been IO…I’ve lived right at the nexus of this organization, in particular through its P3 (public-private partnerships) pipeline partners, with talented private sector partners alongside industries, agencies and hospitals, to ultimately not only deliver in a timely way this critical infrastructure, but as we do it to seek opportunities to optimize it in respect of design or configuration.”
IO’s current president and CEO Ehren Cory was supposed to step down in February, however, due to the pandemic he agreed to extend his appointment.
IO assisted the government at the beginning of the pandemic and will do so should there be any future waves, Lindsay said.
“Continuing to make progress through the pandemic on the projects that are in construction has been challenging,” said Lindsay.
“I would salute our partners who have continued almost across all of our projects to make progress to solve problems as they arise, to protect worker health and safety. By and large I think we’re observing that with some adaptations progress continues and schedules largely are being adhered to.”
Prior to the pandemic, IO was tasked by the government to deliver the largest capital pipeline in the history of the province, $66 billion worth of projects.
“We were facing, at the time, lots of trends and forces in bound to COVID-19, including the continued evolution of our market in respect to contracting strategies and risk, the ever increasing importance of technology and systems in making capital projects highly valuable, complexity of governance models associated with increasingly integrated projects,” said Lindsay. “Then on top of all of that there were the lasting impacts, and the impacts were seeing right now, of the COVID-19 pandemic to contend with. The things to tackle in the here and now are those things. I feel exceptionally fortunate to have the team that I do to be able to tackle those things.”
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