2019 Member Nominee
Dr Mekki MacAulay is a former CIRA Community Investment Program (CIP) winner (2014) who has been a CIRA member for more than 15 years. He is a licensed computer systems engineer (PEng) and strategic management researcher and instructor (PhD) specializing in open strategies. He has extensive industry, government, and consulting experience, and has played an active role on both public and private boards of directors. He is bilingual and his expertise lies at the intersection of technology and business. He is seeking election to the CIRA board with a mandate to grow CIRA's partnerships with registrars, Canadian organisations, and academic institutions through innovative product, service, and research initiatives that build continuously towards a better online Canada.
Dear .CA member:
CIRA is unique in its stewardship of the .CA country code top-level domain (ccTLD) in that it has understood, both in theory and practice, the degree to which the Internet is embedded in the lives of Canadians and connects us to the global Internet community. Its technical expertise is unparalleled, with numerous other countries following its lead or even outsourcing their needs to run on CIRA's top-tier infrastructure. Its advocacy and support for initiatives that improve participation and access across all Canadian communities, occupations, and walks of life continues to inspire jurisdictions far larger than ours. Its strategic plan for the future is both ambitious and actionable, with plenty of room for innovation and creative delivery on its mandate.
I am seeking your vote because my experience and expertise are well suited to continuing to build upon the success CIRA has achieved to date in innovative and creative ways as the Internet continues to grow, evolve, and integrate with our professional and social lives. I am driven to contribute to this positive vision of the future of Canadian Internet where privacy and ethical practices are carefully balanced against business model needs, technological complexity, and the collision of national jurisdictions in borderless cyberspace. CIRA is on the right track. My goal is to continue to scale the positive impact with fresh ideas.
I stand for an open, accessible, multilingual, diverse Internet that enables public participation across Canada and the world while protecting the principles of a free and just society. Online, how we manage our national top-level domain reflects upon Canada as a whole and its my sincere belief that .CA members represent the very best of the societal value that underpins the Internet.
I ask for your support to give me a mandate to continue along this path of success and growth, to continue creating value, and to put my unique mix of engineering and business acumen to work for you to build a better online Canada in the years to come.
Thank you for participating in the future of Canada's Internet.
Mekki MacAulay, PEng, PhD
Answers to mandatory questions:
1. Explain from your perspective what CIRA does and why it matters.
At its inception, CIRA was created as the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) registry, steward of "Canada's domain." Thankfully, the members of the Canadian Domain Name Consultative Committee and early directors of CIRA thought bigger and further ahead, realizing that domain names were just the beginning. Today, domain name registration is the foundation upon which CIRA "builds a better online Canada" and "champions the Internet at home and abroad". CIRA works closely with registrars who offer .CA domains as a compelling, competitively priced domain name option to individuals and organisations who want to showcase their Canadian presence. CIRA and its Board of Directors hold a fiduciary duty to all Canadians to act in our best interests locally and nationally by stewarding assets, aligning practices with legal frameworks, operating infrastructure in an open, transparent, accountable, and audited fashion, and creating and implementing strategic plans, both short and long term, to improve its operations and the value it brings to Canadians.
Both within Canada, and abroad, CIRA's executive and employees are recognized as world leaders, best-practice creators--not just implementors!--in areas including security (e.g., DNSSEC), accessibility (e.g., Accessibility Standards Policy that maps to legislative guidelines), resilience (e.g., D-Zone Anycast infrastructure), and meaningful participation (e.g., Community Investment Program, open source partnerships). It has raised the bar for Internet standards, setting a positive example that is being emulated worldwide.
CIRA matters because it understands that the Internet is far more than just an interface to the largest repository of human knowledge every created (many Libraries of Alexandria are added to the Internet every single day!); it is one of the most flexible, adaptable, nuanced, and pervasive tools mankind has ever created (perhaps only competing with language itself for impact!) Therefore, CIRA does far more than simply act as registry for the .CA ccTLD. It engages with Canadian (and international) stakeholders, big and small, and seeks to create non-zero-sum value for everyone's benefit. It works towards equality for Canadians in terms of access with support of Northern and municipal internet access initiatives. It champions diversity by promoting a multi-lingual internet experience. It advocates for open policies to distribute control to keep the Internet free.
Perhaps most of all, CIRA puts the principles of a free and just society, enshrined in the Canadian constitution, into practice in cyberspace, leading the way as Canada has historically done on many progressive fronts in its history.
2. Why do you want to be on CIRA’s board of directors?
I believe strongly in CIRA's mission and wish to apply my unique mix of talent, experience, education, and innovative thinking towards implementing the mission and making CIRA's world-class vision of recognition by and value to the Internet Community and Canadians a reality.
In particular, I want to bring to bear my experience at the intersection of technology and business, where many opportunities for value creation are underexplored. I am excited by the challenge described in CIRA's 2017-2020 strategic plan to "redefine the curve" with CIRA 3.0 and beyond. I have several new product and service ideas for meeting the target of "over 10% of revenue derived from sources other than domain name business". I would like to see a closer integration between CIRA and registrars, academia, industry, and open source communities in this respect.
For registrars, there are numerous opportunities for joint expansion of products and services beyond the traditional .CA domain name registration business. I propose exploring ways that CIRA and registrars can work together to create new joint revenue streams, while magnifying the value they create for Canadians as the Internet continues to grow and reinvent itself.
For academia, as a first-round (2014) CIP recipient for my research at the Schulich School of Business, York University, I have unique insights about how to improve the process by splitting fundamental research from community initiatives such that seasoned academics with expertise in grant writing are not pitted against small, charity/not-for-profit community groups for the same pool of funds. I also bring an understanding of ethical, effective knowledge creation processes: the principles of good research. In an age where reality itself (e.g., fake news) is at stake, we need to champion a robust, transparent, reliable, valid, replicatable process at Canadian research institutions, particularly in areas related to Internet and underlying and complementary technologies and their social and business implications.
For industry, I would like to champion a closer connection with Canadian business, and entrepreneurship from underrepresented groups in particular. Internet-enabled business is a strong part of national competitiveness and fosters job creation and social enterprises that magnify the value-creation enabled by CIRA's early support by many orders of magnitude.
For open source communities, I envision closer ties between CIRA and the peer production communities that create and maintain the many technologies that are the backbone of the Internet. We depend on these technologies and CIRA should be an active participant--not just user--in these communities, both to have deeper visibility for security and reliability, and to have a greater say in the future directions these technologies might take. Likewise, CIRA should increase its presence on standards boards related to the Internet to ensure that Canadians have a voice at the table where decisions are made about technologies that shape their lives.
My competencies are uniquely matched to this mix of growth and scaling in technology, academia, and social good in CIRA's strategic plan and it would be my privilege to work for all Canadians to make it a reality.
3. What specific skills and experience do you have that makes you a qualified candidate for CIRA’s board of directors?
I am a licensed computer systems engineer (PEng) with a specialty in engineering management, technology innovation management, Internet-based entrepreneurship, technology and privacy law (copyright, trademark, patent, PIPEDA, etc.), and engineering ethics. During my engineering career, I created two startups (hardware, software, networking OEM / service provider; and, technology management consulting) and worked as at IT project manager in several public-sector (federal government) departments, where I developed networking, security, project and program management, and other technical skills through the years of experience. I also completed extensive training in project management (PMBOK), ITIL ITSM, human resources management (and subsequently hired and managed numerous employees), teamwork and consensus building, non-violent communication (NVC), negotiations, active listening, constitutional legal frameworks, and both technical and business communications with a focus on written and oral presentation to stakeholders at all levels, including executive.
Frustrated at continuously encountering situations where good technology and engineering decisions were being overridden by bad business/management decisions, I pursued graduate research (PhD) at the Schulich School of Business with a specialty in strategic management of technology. My research particularly focused on open strategies used by organisations when participating in open source communities. Along the way, I developed my expertise in finance, accounting, marketing, organisation management theory, operations management, information systems, and taught at the post-secondary level in these and related areas.
In my more resent consulting career, I have engaged in global open source ecosystems in a broad range of communities; I have conducted organisational strategic planning for a range of businesses and not-for-profits in diverse industries with diverse stakeholders. I've informally advised on investment portfolios (and managed my own portfolio) accumulating knowledge related to markets, risk, products/vehicles, performance, short and long term horizons, and tax implications. I have created and delivered marketing plans and developed communication plans both for internal dissemination and broader consultation and feedback purposes.
In terms of diversity, while I reside in Toronto, I was born in Québec, I am bilingual, I have lived in other areas of Canada, and have a personal and professional network across Canada and the world. I am a person of mixed origins (visible minority), and a person with a disability, representing a cross-section of what it means to be Canadian.
In short, I am a close match in terms of skills and experience to the CIRA board skills matrix. However, perhaps the most important factor of all is that I have passion and am driven to make a difference. I like big ideas and I thrive on challenge and growth. I recognize that "change" is the new normal and status quo is never enough. I believe we can always continue to grow the value we create for Canadians and I want to put that passion to work for you.
4. What do you think are the top 3 challenges and opportunities facing CIRA in the next 3 to 5 years? What approach would you take to addressing these issues?
The relevance of .CA domain names is continuously under attack with the myriad of existing and emerging TLD options. The best way to address this issue is to develop and leverage partnerships with Canadian businesses whose brands are (or could be encouraged to be) associated with Canadian identity and Canadian presence. I propose joint marketing campaigns with select Canadian businesses that embody CIRA's values to promote .CA registrations and Canadian online participation (while also creating a new revenue stream for CIRA through these partnerships).
While CIRA's infrastructure is world-class, keeping it cutting edge as technology rapidly evolves is an ongoing challenge of operational necessity. Maintaining security, stability, and accessibility are at the core of CIRA's mandate. I propose working with the Canadian Federal Government (under current government the Ministry of Innovation, science and Economic Development, or ISED) to create an MOU related to funding for the continuous renewal, updating, and maintenance of this infrastructure that is essential to economic development across Canada. Given the Federal government was one of CIRA's earliest stakeholders at its foundation, a more proximal connection to the appropriate ministry, with a recognition of the importance of CIRA's independence and its subject matter expertise, would provide the financial stability to ensure that the technical infrastructure is always cutting edge.
As the Internet continues to grow, it is increasingly running up against National borders and interests in borderless cyberspace. It is likewise being steered by huge multi-national corporation interests. In both cases, the result is an increasingly fractured and walled-off Internet. While Canada, in terms of population, is a small player, we lead on the technical and human rights policy front and are internationally recognized and respected in those areas. Therefore, CIRA must maintain and grow its advocacy for the free and open Internet, leveraging the human rights principles of public participation, freedom of speech, freedom of association, all within the context of a free and just society (i.e., appropriate restrictions on freedom of speech such as hate speech). Most of the transformations of the greater nature of the Internet are invisible to most Canadians. For this reason, CIRA must be even more actively involved on the policy making front to be the advocate of Canadians and their interests on the Internet.
- Split and expanded CIP. Separate academic research, entrepreneurship, and social enterprise/not-for-profit/community streams. Scalable project proposals rather than black and white accept/reject. Multi-year, ongoing initiatives.
- Collaborations with like-minded organizations (Libraries, archival associations, open source communities, educational institutions, maker movements, municipalities). Enables representation of broader range of stakeholder interests while also identifying new potential joint revenue streams and promoting visibility of .CA across Canada.
- Expanded use of infrastructure. Already, international jurisdictions have outsourced some of their domain management to CIRA's infrastructure. There is considerable room for growth given the capacity of the current (and continuously renewed) infrastructure and the opportunity to balance CIRA's revenue streams with non-Canada-originating funds.