Staying Connected for Sustainability

Enerflex’s Greg Stewart illustrates why influencing sound business decisions involves influencing I.T. infrastructure

VP and CIO Greg Stewart (far left) with an Enerflex operations team in the Oman Desert.

As a single-source provider of solutions for the international oil and gas industry, Enerflex Ltd. offers high-tech processing products and services for refrigeration, carbon dioxide, heavy-oil, and particularly natural-gas applications, the Alberta-based company’s core focus. Enerflex also offers mechanical services and compression and power-generation solutions, and because it’s so intimately involved in energy production and management, its services are, in most ways, contingent upon the ever-evolving policies, procedures, and interests of the environmentally impactful energy industry.

The Word on Green

As the CIO of Enerflex, an international energy-solutions provider, Greg Stewart relies on a combination of business acumen and IT experience. Here, he reacts to some of the larger ideas impacting the world’s business and ecological environments.

Communication: “Perspective and listening.”

Technology: “Enabling and strategic.”

Sustainable Education: “Change management and long-term perspective.”

Alternative Fuels: “Opportunity.”

Manufacturing: “Solutions.”

Greg Stewart, VP and chief information officer of Enerflex, stands at the intersection of the fundamentally dynamic IT sector and his company’s own fluctuating mission. And it’s here that Stewart’s combined technology and business background, sharpened by an MBA from McMaster University, becomes indispensable as he helps the company remain environmentally responsible while expanding its network across the globe.

“One of the perceptions information-technology teams often have is that business units don’t understand IT’s role, and vice versa,” Stewart says. “That is why listening is essential, and building solutions collaboratively is how to ensure success.”

Stewart came to Enerflex in 2009. The company was leveraging numerous mergers and acquisitions, and because its services extend far beyond Canada’s borders—into places as far-flung as the Middle East, Russia, and Australia—Enerflex realized it needed someone manning the technical helm of its increasingly global operation, which has a current revenue of more than $1.5 billion and employs more than 3,200 worldwide.

Stewart left an eight-year tenure as vice president of business services at Superior Propane to fill the newly created CIO position at Enerflex. “There was a mandate, when I joined, to establish a long-term enterprise architecture for what success looked like for IT at Enerflex,” Stewart says. “There was a multitude of disparate systems, and as the saying goes, this creates multiple versions of the truth. Building an integration strategy and road map was key.”

Thanks to his dual experience, Stewart has been able to more clearly articulate his IT department’s value.

“In a business context, I’m working with the executive team to have information technology be an enabler and provide more of a strategic advantage,” Stewart says. “For example, an IT project might implement a new system and call that a success, but the business unit won’t see the upside. You can’t declare victory until the business value promised is actually derived, so collaboration with my peers in defining success is essential for a positive outcome.”

Greg Stewart
Greg Stewart

In 2013, Stewart was awarded the C-Suite Energy Executive CIO Award by Alberta Oil magazine, which recognized the impacts of his activity at the intersection of information, environment, and business. It is through the integration of IT and business—and understanding the role of technology as it complements strategy—that Stewart, as CIO, has been able to help Enerflex implement its best solutions. His work has directly impacted the business environment and, correspondingly, the labour and ecological environment. “If you look at the technologies of this industry as they have developed recently—fracking and horizontal drilling, for example—we’ve now gone to a position of having a net surplus of natural gas,” Stewart says. “This creates an opportunity for us because we’re supporting gathering systems to get gas to the pipelines, and we’re doing this internationally.”

For Stewart, the pleasures of his job come in the constant work of wrangling his various, sometimes conflicting interests in line with one another.

“Where the CIO role is a challenge—and also a lot of fun—is that it is multidimensional,” he says. “On one hand, you have a constantly changing industry. On the other, you have technology, also constantly evolving. If you think of this like a Rubik’s Cube, the challenge is that sometimes the colours change on the fly. You’re never completely done with your work.”