Introducing Carl Zanon – Our New Life Member Affinity Group Chair

Back in November we announced that Carl Zanon (LM, IEEE) would be joining the Vancouver Section as its new Life Member Affinity Group Chair. We would like to take this opportunity to give a more formal introduction of Carl, who has an extensive background in electrical engineering, consulting, and senior management. Over the course of his career, Carl held positions in five provinces and worked abroad in Massachusetts, USA. His leadership experience makes him well-suited for his new role in the Vancouver Section. Carl is especially interested in unearthing stories with other Life Members and sharing them with the Vancouver Section. All interested Life Members are encouraged to contact Carl at to get involved with the group.

Carl graduated from UBC’s Electrical and Computer Engineering class of 1959. His connection with the IEEE started when he volunteered as Treasurer for UBC’s local American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) branch. The AIEE later combined with the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) in 1963 to form the IEEE as we know it today. The class of 1959 recently held a reunion event to celebrate the 60th year since their graduation (click here for more information).

After graduation, Carl worked for the Northern Electric Company in Quebec. He designed high voltage cable systems (120kV) to be used for distribution systems in Toronto and Edmonton. He then moved to the state of Massachusetts in 1962 and worked there for the next 10 years.

While in the USA, he started in a Research Engineer position at Ion Physics Corporation, performing high voltage studies for ion engine development. Carl worked with megavolt-range equipment used to deliver pulsed radiation to harden missile electronics. He then became a Group Leader at Avco Corporation in the field of Minuteman Missile development for the USAF. His group retrofitted Minuteman Missiles with penetration aids. This entailed launching decoys into the ionosphere to hide a single warhead up to the point of re-entry. Finally, Carl became a Program Manager at Atkins & Merrill, a company that specialized in commercial airplane simulators for the Boeing 747, Lockheed L1011, and McDonnell Douglas DC10. As a member of the design team he obtained a patent on a modular simulator design. While in Massachusetts he completed an MBA at the Northeastern University of Boston in 1968.

Carl moved back to Canada and has remained here ever since. In 1972 he accepted a management position at Westinghouse in St. Jean, Quebec. He managed the switchgear and transformer business unit, introduced two new product lines in Canada, and established a satellite plant for the company.

After Westinghouse, Carl became Vice President and General Manager of Ferranti-Packard Transformers in 1980. He managed the company’s distribution transformers business unit spanning 4 plants in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and New York. Under his watch, annual sales increased to $60 million.

Carl then joined SED Systems in Saskatchewan as Vice President in 1984 and later became President of Caelum Technologies – a company acquired by SED Systems. He managed the company’s satellite communication equipment and agricultural business units, and increased the company’s annual sales to $6 million. Carl’s division successfully completed an inter-provincial satellite phone system.

Carl entered the consulting field with his own business, Northstar Consulting, in Saskatchewan in 1986. He provided services in business planning, product development, and productivity improvements. One project for Joytec Corp., Saskatoon, involved Carl in negotiating with Marubeni Company the rights for a golf simulator with a tethered golf ball in the Japanese market. Sony Corp. was selected as the technical partner. 

After seven years in consulting, he joined the Alberta Research Council as a Manufacturing and Business Advisor to a technical group supporting Alberta companies. Services included advanced CAD and 3D printing. Carl was assigned to oversee the design and field testing of a “Mounder” for Canfor. After clear-cutting an area, this massive machine, pulled along by a tractor, scoped soil (meter square) on alternate sides  and spaced it appropriately leaving a raised patch of soil. Tree seedlings were planted in the center of this patch. Carl’s team received company recognition for significant productivity benefits and a patent.

In 1997, Carl was appointed GM of International Benchmarking Institute (IBI Inc.), a spin-off from the Alberta Research Council. As an Industry Canada project, the task was to prepare a questionnaire with over 200 questions for small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs). Three countries were included; Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Carl presented benchmarking results at the APEC conference sponsored by the Japan Small Business Corporation, Tokyo. Also, Carl presented the concept from his technical book Advancing Production Management with standard cost and operational analysis ©, 1990. Over a period of two weeks the APEC delegates visited many SME facilities.

Two years later he joined Western Star Trucks’ in Kelowna, BC in a position of Manager, Engineering Process. He coordinated the department’s business planning, reporting, training, and managed computer contracts. Carl then re-entered the consulting field in 2002 with the Business Development Bank of Canada and remained there for five years, helping companies improve their operational efficiency.

Most recently, Carl was an instructor of a Situational Leadership© series at Okanagan College in conjunction with Blueridge Professional Training from 2002-2014. The series consisted of 6-hour sessions that focused on the topics of management, team building, motivating employees, communication, decision-making, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and stress management.

Over the course of his career, Carl has been an author and inventor. He has written over 25 articles and joined the Westbank Writers’ Group two years ago with the intent of capturing past memories and experiences. He is a Patient Voices Network (PVN) volunteer on BC Interior Health projects and has volunteered for other causes including West Kelowna Community Policing, the Gellatly Nut Farm Society, and the Friends of Westbank Library (Treasurer).

Other background information about Carl:

  • He attended the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953.
  • He represented British Columbia in the Canadian Contingent of twelve Sea Cadets. They sailed from Halifax on the aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent. This experience lead him to join the University Naval Training Division (UNTD) at UBC, Vancouver.
  • He was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve in 1958. Retired in 1960.

The Vancouver Section is honored to have Carl serving as Chair for its Life Members Affinity Group. For additional information on the IEEE Life Members Affinity Group, please click here. The IEEE Life Members Committee publishes a newsletter semi-annually to Life Members. To read past issues of the newsletter, please click here.

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