Senior federal Liberal staffer Gianluca Cairo is leaving his post as chief of staff to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains to join human resources software company Ceridian HCM Holding Inc., one of three finalists to develop a replacement for Ottawa’s failed Phoenix payroll system.
Ceridian, which sells payroll and other HR software services predominantly to business customers, has tapped Mr. Cairo to lead a new division to expand its offerings to public-sector clients globally. He joins the company – based in Minneapolis but managed out of Toronto by Canadian CEO David Ossip – in mid-August and will not be campaigning during the fall election.
Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has cleared his appointment and Mr. Cairo will be subject to postemployment provisions under federal conflict of interest and lobbying legislation, affecting his ability to interact with his former employer.
“I am proud of our accomplishments over the last four years and I look forward to my next set of challenges,” Mr. Cairo said in a posting Sunday night on LinkedIn and Facebook. “I'm excited to lean on my experiences working in the private and public sectors to help a Canadian industry leader grow.
Mr. Cairo, who declined comment when contacted Monday by The Globe, is returning to the technology sector after his second stint in politics. The 39-year-old father of two young children previously worked in the office of opposition leader Stéphane Dion as a senior political adviser from 2006 to 2008.
He joined Altus Group, a provider of software and technology services to the commercial real estate industry, in early 2009, serving as vice-president of operations for its Argus Software division. He joined the new Liberal government in late 2015 as chief of staff for public services and procurement minister Judy Foote, who drew fire for the rollout of the Phoenix system in 2016 on her watch. He continued to work for her temporary replacement, Jim Carr, after she took a leave of absence for health reasons, then joined Mr. Bains’s office in September, 2017, helping to shepherd several innovation-oriented files as the government’s $950-million supercluster program.
In an e-mailed statement to The Globe, Mr. Bains thanked Mr. Cairo “for his hard work and contributions to our government” and said he wished him “all the best on his future endeavors.”
Mr. Cairo’s departure from government and return to work in Toronto is not a surprise, as he has told colleagues he intended to work in Ottawa for only one term before returning to the private sector.
He joins a company that has undergone a dramatic transformation since it bought Mr. Ossip’s software startup Dayforce and made him CEO. Mr. Ossip transformed Ceridian’s culture and moved much of the development and leadership jobs to Toronto. Ceridian, which generates more than $1-billion in annual revenue, concluded the biggest technology initial public offering in Canadian history last year, listing on both the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.
While the company has primarily focused on corporate clients, Ceridian led a charm offensive in the past two years to make inroads in Ottawa, where it has just a handful of departments and Crown agencies as customers. It pitched itself as a made-in-Canada success story that could help Ottawa move past the Phoenix disaster by designing and delivering a next-generation fix to pay the government’s workers accurately and on-time. Last month it was named, along with SAP SE and Workday Inc., as one of three finalists to do so, and Mr. Ossip has said the public sector could represent “a healthy segment for us.”
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