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In conversation with… Dennis Barnhart, Canada President

We caught up with Dennis Barnhart, Dye & Durham’s country president for Canada, to get a sense of his team’s priorities and how he thinks about innovating for our customers. We also talked about motivation, leadership and building tighter linkages between our geographies. Check out the interview below.

Dennis, tell us a little about yourself, including where you grew up and where your career has taken you over the years.

While I’m originally from British Columbia, I grew up in Nova Scotia and raised a family in Halifax before moving to Toronto in 2010. In addition to living in Halifax and Toronto, I spent three years in Winnipeg leading Teranet Manitoba, and six months in Dublin on a project with the Law Society of Ireland. My career has taken a number of twists and turns. I started in IT before transitioning into loss control, internal audit, corporate strategy, corporate development and M&A, consulting, business management and executive leadership, just to name a few. I would say my career path has been characterized as being willing to take on new opportunities as they emerged and seizing any chance to contribute, learn and grow.      

You’ve been with Dye & Durham for just over a year now. What was it that attracted you to the firm?

I’ve followed D&D’s trajectory over the past few years and was impressed and intrigued by their growth and market leadership position. When working at Teranet, I knew the DoProcess Team and the quality of their people and solutions. So, when I had the chance to join D&D to lead the Canadian business, I jumped at the opportunity.

What are your priorities for the Canadian market over the near, medium and long term?

Our near-term focus has been to stabilize and optimize the Canadian business, bringing structure, predictability and process to ensure we maximize our potential, meet our business plan commitments and support growth. We have grown rapidly through acquisitions, and we expect more. We’re working to bring our teams together under a single strategy and brand, to align our product strategies and ensure team members have the resources, support and tools they need to maintain a superior value proposition and customer experience while driving organic and acquisitive growth. This has involved building a high-performing organization and a culture of excellence.

Over the medium term, we have a number of legacy applications to integrate into a much smaller portfolio of modern solutions. And we need to defend our market position by ensuring we continue to innovate and provide exceptional products, service and support to the clients who have been the hallmark of our organization. From a global perspective, we need to work closely with our colleagues in Australia, the U.K. and Ireland to share best practices, co-ordinate our processes and technology and collaborate to build global product and market leadership aligned around a single, unified brand.   

Is there a particular area that you’re focusing on when it comes to driving innovation, notably around the broader legal community’s digital transformation?

As we learned in our recently commissioned Angus Reid national survey, nearly eight-in-10 Canadian legal professionals say their industry is overdue for a digital transformation. The vast majority recognize the many benefits cloud-based solutions provide when it comes to practice management, client service and operational efficiency. Fundamentally, what we do to support our customers in their transformation is provide reliable, secure and superior digital solutions that eliminate waste (and manual effort) and improve quality in their processes. This lets them be more efficient and provide superior service to their customers. We are constantly identifying new innovations and partnerships to ensure we are offering our clients the best products and services to make their practices, large or small, more successful.

What motivates you every day and do you have any tips for aspiring leaders in the tech sector?

Every day, I come to the office looking forward to working with colleagues who are committed to our company and our customers in a fast-paced, exciting work environment. I thoroughly enjoy working at Dye & Durham and am proud of the work we do to support our customers, ensuring their success in serving their customers. For many, that is supporting the most significant financial transaction of their lives – purchasing a home. Keeping up with the needs of our customers and the pace of technological change means staying close to them and making sure we understand their evolving needs and pain points.

In terms of advice, I would revert to the fundamental differentiator of successful companies in any sector: focus on your people. Great technology comes from team members who are engaged, motivated, inspired and committed to the mission of the organization. Ensure everyone understands how they contribute to the strategy, provide clear expectations and objectives, give regular feedback and remove any roadblocks or barriers that will prevent them from being successful. And celebrate and reward success.

What do enjoy doing outside of work?

To start, I’m a big believer in staying active because keeping in shape is not just great for the body, but also the mind. My wife and I always make time to get on our bikes, hit the gym and explore trails and parks in and around Toronto. But life is also all about balance and as an armchair athlete, you can catch me watching Formula 1 races and cheering on the Seattle Seahawks on the weekends, along with the Philadelphia Flyers (sorry, Leafs fans!) and the Toronto Raptors. Last but certainly not least, I stay connected with my five kids and three grandsons out in Nova Scotia. I hope to see more of them as we move on past this pandemic.