Meet Our Executive Sponsors: Peter Smailes

Meet Our Executive Sponsors: Peter Smailes

June 21, 2019

Peter Smailes is the Vice-President, Finance & Operations at UBC. In addition to his responsibility leading finance, treasury, risk management services, and facilities, to name just a few, Peter is also the lead executive sponsor of the Integrated Renewal Program (IRP). The IRP will modernize and simplify processes and bring them into an intuitive integrated platform.

Peter took time to share his excitement for what the IRP represents for the future of UBC’s students, faculty and staff.

Tell us a little about your portfolio and your history at UBC

I joined the University in 2001, and I held treasury roles until my promotion to my current position in July 2018. My portfolio is broad. I lead UBC’s finance and facilities, and I oversee UBC’s relationship with the UBC Investment Management Trust and UBC Properties Trust. UBC Investment Management Trust manages the investment of UBC’s endowment, the staff pension plan and working capital assets. UBC Properties Trust develops and manages land development and a rental portfolio on the UBCV campus as well as construction of institutional buildings for both UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan.

What excites you about the IRP?

I’m excited for when people start to realize what is possible with the new system and processes.

Once our students, faculty, staff, and information come together in one system, it will allow us to fundamentally change how we do things in a lot of small but significant ways.

"We’ll be able to spend less time chasing information and more time on our strategic priorities."

A simple example is that the Personnel Absence Tracker (PAT) system will be replaced with Workday. That means you no longer have to log in to separate systems to request time off and view your pay stub. It’s the culmination of all these small changes that will benefit the university.

But it’s going to take us a number of years to figure out how to use the system and the processes to get the most out of them. I think of it like getting a degree – you spend years earning it, but once you get it, it’s only the starting point. You don’t suddenly have a career or all the answers. Your degree simply enables you to do more. It’s the same with what the IRP will deliver to UBC – a starting point that enables us to do more.

Who is leading the program?

I’m the lead executive sponsor of the IRP. There are five executive sponsors, representing both UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan. This is also a priority for the President. The IRP is huge, and it will eventually touch all students, faculty and staff, so it continues to be important that the IRP has strong representation especially at the most senior level of the university.

The executive sponsors ensure the program aligns with the university’s strategic direction and that the university realizes the intended benefits of this work. We advocate for the program within our portfolios, and now that we’re less than a year before the IRP delivers Workday, we will become more visible advocates across the university.

UBC is a complex organization. As executive sponsors, we have an important responsibility to break down silos to build and strengthen networks across the UBC community that support the program and act as advocates on our and the program’s behalf.

What’s happening on the program right now?

There’s a lot of work happening right now to ensure that the system and the HR and finance processes being delivered in late 2020 meet the needs of the university. We’ve undertaken an ambitious scope of work. An important first step is launching a new system for HR and finance. Once that’s in place, we can build the student module.

There are over 200 talented team members working hard to ensure this program succeeds for all of us. Most of them are UBC employees, so they understand our needs and our challenges. I know they care deeply about the work they are doing, and I hope when they look back on their time on the IRP that they feel a deep sense of pride in what they helped the university achieve. 

I know there are a lot of people across the university who are interested in and excited to get their hands on Workday and learn more about what’s changing. The program team is currently planning out events over the balance of this year and early next to provide opportunities to see the new system in action.

What’s one piece of advice you have for faculty and staff to help ensure success?

Success is a responsibility all faculty and staff have to share. The program is ramping up communications and will be offering opportunities to see Workday starting this summer.

"It’s up to each of us to pay attention to that information, be an active participant where appropriate and ask questions if we don’t understand it."


Keep Current on the IRP

Subscribe today to the IRP Community Connect newsletter to receive regular updates about the program. IRP Community Connect provides content to support our faculty and staff to prepare for the transition to Workday. It contains a mix of content including broad announcements, event listings, and stories from faculty and staff.

It is issued to faculty and staff who have opted in to receive the newsletter. All faculty and staff are encouraged to subscribe to receive regular updates.

The next edition will come out in August, and from there, the program will produce the newsletter monthly through 2020.

To subscribe, click here.