Ron Zambonini, Emerald Life Master and the former CEO of one of Canada’s greatest software firms, died Sunday July 23, the victim of a lung cancer that had been discovered last year. He was 70. Ron loved golf, so perhaps it was fitting that he spent his last day watching the final round of the British Open.
Zambonini, born in Scotland of Italian parents, was one of Canada’s most colourful and visionary tech leaders. He will be remembered throughout the business world for his steady stewardship of the Canadian software company, Cognos. He was appointed CEO of the company in 1995, and is credited with growing the company into a global leader in the area of business intelligence software. The company was eventually acquired by IBM in 2007.
Zambonini was a passionate leader, beloved by his employees. He was a consummate showman willing to star in company skits aimed at pumping up employee energy. He famously appeared at large company gatherings, as a motorcycle gang leader, Mick Jagger, Zorro and Braveheart. One year, dressed as a rodeo champion, he jumped through a ring of fire.
At the bridge table Ron was a gentleman. He was kind, generous and funny. He was loved by his teammates and opponents alike.
Zambonini is survived by his wife Gail, son Paul (Jill) and two grandchildren, Jack and Sam. A celebration of Ron’s life will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto.