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Why I Network: Marc LeClerc

Aug 22, 2016

ONF Market Area Director and VP of Strategy and Marketing at NoviFlow Inc shares how he ended up becoming a shameless ICT evangelist.

Marc LeClercMy first love was physics, and she’ll always have a special place in my heart, but information technology came into my life (via the lady who’s been my way-better-half for over 30 years) and took me on a joy ride that has yet to end.

Those were the heady days of the early eighties, and I went from programming in Fortran to IBM 360/370 assembly languages to Octal based PDP-11 assembly to PL/1, APL, BASIC, Pascal (remember Turbo Pascal?), LISP, COBOL, SNOBOL, SPITBOL (I kid you not!), C, C++… It was nothing short of a mad, glorious rush of ideas, algorithms, data structures, Kernighan and Ritchie, AND the birth of both personal computing and the blossoming of the international network of networks soon to be called the Internet.

When I graduated I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving it all behind and going back to my beautiful, bucolic, rural potato farming community of Grand Falls, New Brunswick. So I went to work in user services at the Computing Centre of McGill University, my alma mater. Suddenly I became a person tasked with explaining the beauty of electronic data processing to those who saw it merely as a tool for getting their real work done, and I was astounded, not because I was now teaching professors how to do things, but because for me there was nothing like the moment when their eyes lit up and they fully grocked how these tools could amplify the power of their minds!

I have been a technology evangelist ever since. Full of ideas on empowering the individual, I went to work for Apple Computer as a systems engineer, and was introduced to the amazing culture of Silicon Valley, the place where ideas go to procreate. My job was to take all the great innovations produced by Cupertino and make them real for Apple resellers and customers in eastern Canada. Seven insanely great years later I left for Hong Kong and a different, calmer industry, but soon realized that the frenetic pace of ICT was irrevocably in my blood, and two years later was back doing networking software and hardware, ending up (like so many of my classmates from McGill) working for Ericsson in Montreal.

And was promptly moved to Stockholm Sweden where my children learned to speak Swedish, and was drafted into the strategic marketing, where I became the person linking Ericsson’s marketing and product management to the standards groups and industry associations that were fueling the mobile communications revolution. It was there that I learned how these communities had become key enablers – and sometimes serious impediments – to the dissemination and market acceptance of new technologies. A lot of the ideas I hold on how ONF can become a more effective organization for its members and the world at large date from that decade of working with people from companies and countries big and small brought together in a common cause.

And then just over four years ago, a few other ex-Ericsson folks and I founded NoviFlow, because we saw in SDN a truly disruptive technology that could fundamentally change the relationship of data networks to the people and applications that utilize their resources. However, it was clear that there was a lot of work to be done in building the technology of SDN into a comprehensive set of tools that could deal with complex networks, and in propagating the culture of how to apply these tools within the ICT community.

TLDR? The central lesson I learned from all of this is that it’s not people who move at the speed of technology, but rather it’s technology that moves at the speed of people. Networking between individuals is how we put to work the amazing ideas that are the offspring of technology and culture.  Each one of us whose knowledge and mind have been expanded by these ideas holds the potential to pass that flame unto others, forging new links to that global chain of people empowered to change the world! That potential is what I love about what I do. This is why I network.

I also like to play cards and make mind-numbingly bad puns. You’ve been warned.

– Marc LeClerc, ONF Market Area Director and VP of Strategy and Marketing at NoviFlow Inc