Annette Butikofer has always been a self starter who jumps in with both feet. Currently, she’s responsible for about 4,000 IT professionals in her role as information technology branch assistant commissioner and CIO with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). “My team provides IT development and support services to the CRA, as well as to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA),” she explains.
Annette’s willingness to challenge herself was apparent even during her undergrad days. The Thunder Bay native studied business administration, majoring in management systems. “In my third year, I was asked to lead the development of a cost accounting program on behalf of the School of Business,” she says, “an opportunity I probably wouldn’t have had at a larger university.”
Annette is a first-generation Canadian (her mother was from Finland and her father from Switzerland) who grew up in a family of five. “Finances were limited and I wasn’t able to go away to university like so many kids do these days,” she says. By chance, Annette had a Lakehead connection before she enrolled as a student. Her father had worked in the University’s maintenance department until he passed away in 1977 and was responsible for painting the original abstract designs in the underground tunnel. Annette describes her Lakehead years as wonderful. “Remaining in Thunder Bay to attend university was not just the only option, but history shows it was the best option!”
Annette graduated in 1985 with her bachelor’s degree and immediately started a one-year work exchange with Telecom Australia in Melbourne, Australia. She was able to participate in this adventure through AIESEC, an organization that describes itself as “the world’s largest youth-led network creating positive impact through personal development and shared global experiences.”
Annette trained as a programmer/analyst and worked with four different project teams. “I gained analysis and programming experience across different technology platforms which made me very marketable.” When she returned to Canada in 1986, she was quickly hired by Woods Gordon Consulting and the Hudson’s Bay Company in Toronto.
Her switch to the public sector happened in 1991 when Annette joined the Canada Revenue Agency in Ottawa. She also continued her educational journey. In 1992, she became a Certified Management Accountant (CPA, CMA) and in 2013, she obtained a certificate in Public Sector Leadership and Governance from the University of Ottawa. Her leadership skills and work ethic have been noticed. In 1996 when Annette was a team leader, she was selected to represent the Information Technology Branch in the CRA’s executive development program. In 2009, she led the CRA team that won the gold medal for the Managed Distributed Environment (MDE) program in the IT Operations category and in 2014-15, she led the team that was given the CRA Award of Excellence in the Connie Roveto Governance Award category for Local Solutions Governance.
Despite all the accolades, she counts her family as her greatest joy. “I have two daughters, Véronique and Geneviève, and each and every day, they remind Paul and me of the importance of family.” Annette tries to spend as much time as possible with her children and when they were younger, she was an enthusiastic volunteer with their dance school and soccer associations.
Annette is a strong believer in “being open to opportunity, even if it scares you, because not only will you develop on a personal level, it will lead to new paths on a professional level.” She also encourages Lakehead University students and alumni to consider the diverse, and rewarding, government careers that are available to them. “Your public service needs you!”
Annette loves hanging out with her daughters Geneviève, a Grade 11 student, and Véronique, a second-year McGill University student