On the leading edge

Rehab Med IT manager wins UAlberta Information Technology Leadership Award

Laurie Wang - 04 June 2014

When Lester Lim received an e-mail notifying him that he had won the University of Alberta Information Technology Leadership Award, he thought there was an error.

"At first I thought it was an e-mail error and they were going to recall the message," the IT manager for the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine chuckled. "Then I saw Joyce (acting chair of occupational therapy), Bob (acting dean of rehabilitation medicine) and Jaynie's (acting chair of physical therapy) names on it and started to feel excited…then I felt nervous about it."

The UAlberta IT Leadership Award recognizes an individual each year for their leadership or innovation in the adoption of technology, fostering a supportive team environment and possessing a strong record of mentoring. As the fearless leader of the Rehab Med Technology Group (RMTG), Lim exemplifies all of those qualities, and more.

Over the last three years Lim has worked tirelessly and collaboratively with the Departments of Occupational and Physical Therapy during the expansion of their programs to Camrose (Augustana Campus) and Calgary (two separate sites). Final solutions for finding distance learning technology included a high speed internet videoconferencing system for the Occupational and Physical Therapy program using multiple large, high-definition monitors and ceiling and portable microphones.

"Given the highly interactive teaching styles used within the departments, solutions needed to be flexible, reliable and user-friendly. Lester and his team were not content with technology that was simply good enough but worked hard to find innovative, affordable and excellent solutions," said Bob Haennel, acting dean, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Lim is also a great mentor, not only to his IT staff, but people at every level within the Faculty.

"He leads by example and not with words or by drawing attention to himself. He is quick to give credit and recognition to others," says Joyce Magill-Evans, acting chair, Department of Occupational Therapy.

Lim continues to show humility by recognizing others in the field of IT. "This award should really be going to David Polvere (former IT manager). I have learned so much from him and can't thank him enough for all that he has done. Without his vision and the groundwork he laid out here in the Faculty, we wouldn't be where we are today."

Lim's role has been crucial not only to the Faculty's innovative teaching and service to community, but also to the research.

"In my clinical trial between Alberta Children's Hospital and the University of Alberta, Lester was instrumental in helping researchers at the centres observe each other during an experiment. It is critical in multi-centre trials that data is collected in exactly the same way," explained Jaynie Yang, acting chair, Department of Physical Therapy. "For our electrophysiological experiments, he used software that allowed us to see and talk to each other during the experiment, and see the detailed data flowing to the computer in real-time. This communication between researchers and the quality of data collected was greatly enhanced by Lester. We could not have done this without him."

As a recipient of the UAlberta IT Award for Unsung Hero in 2010, Lim can now say he's a two-time IT award winner. He continues to strive to be the best and offer the best IT services to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

"The award makes me want to do even better and set the bar higher. It's inspiring to know that the RMTG has the Faculty's support and they think and feel this highly of me," said Lim. "A thank you in the hallways in good enough for me, the award is just the icing on the cake."