Shared Vision: It's a Gas

Shared Vision: It's a Gas

Former ANZ Bank CIO David Boyles spent six months fine-tuning the IT shop at AGL before handing over the reins to Cesare Tizi, ex CIO of Transurban. The result is a textbook example of how to manage a smooth transition.

David Boyles and Cesare Tizi are so in harmony about how vital sharp and accomplished individuals are to the success of any IT endeavour that you could be forgiven for imagining their ideas had been forged in the fire of a shared struggle to turn IT into a core corporate asset.

Just listen to the old guard - Boyles - describing the priority he gave to building the strongest possible IT team during the six months he spent knocking AGL into shape for Tizi, his successor, before Tizi took over the reins as CIO in August:

What I and the IT team did when I came on board is we sat down and looked very closely at what AGL as a company was trying to do, and what each of the major business units were focused on, in terms of their goals. We had some pretty substantial discussion over a period of time about what kind of IT organization we needed to be, that would match up and deliver to the overall enterprise goals and to the individual business unit goals.

. . . And my team - and this is us [IT] talking about ourselves - came up with a real focus on people and leadership as something we needed to do. We felt that we could do much better around people development: That we could be more structured in the way that we hired and developed people, and that we could actually raise the bar for all of our specialists. So whether you are a project manager or a software developer, we felt that through a combination of recruitment and internal development we could actually achieve new levels of performance there.

Then listen to the new guard - Tizi - speaking two days later as he contemplated the shipshape IT shop Boyles has left him to play with and build on as he takes AGL into the future:

I've known David as a colleague in the IT industry for a few years, and we do think alike in many ways. We both believe that having high-performance teams is a key to successful IT. The technology is quite easy - I'll say that openly. The technology can be done by a lot of people, but having teams that work together and efficiently and who all work together and pull in the same direction is the tough part . . .

What's happened is that David, who is a very experienced guy in the IT world, has created some fantastic foundations for me at a human level. He's rebuilt the team, he's restructured the team in the sense of the way it engages with the business, and he's created some fantastic governance frameworks that we can use quite effectively to manage the IT team and also make sure the IT team is aligned to the business processes. So what he's handing over to me is the human resource, very well structured . . .

What I've got to do now, and what I plan to do . . . is to use that human resource - those teams, those skills, those people - to build the technology framework and the type of agility in the IT systems that AGL needs to move forward in its business endeavours, its business strategy.

Indeed Boyles and Tizi are so in tune on so many areas of IT that you would think they must have worked together for aeons in one of those close-knit teams they both laud. Yet although the pair has known each other as fellow IT travellers for some years, and think very much alike in many ways, they had not actually worked together until Tizi took up his post at AGL and worked with the semi-retired Boyles for a few days as Boyles handed over the AGL IT baton.

Boyles, fresh from transforming IT at the ANZ (see "Over and Out", CIO February), was drafted in February on a part-time basis to lay the foundations of a tight and professional IT shop and to lead the search for a permanent CIO. After an extensive search he chose Tizi for the significant stripes he had earned at Transurban for his success in steering Melbourne's troubled CityLink toll road back on track (see "For Whom the Road Tolls", CIO September 2003), believing he was primed for new and bigger challenges.

"There's a very natural progression from Transurban to AGL," Tizi says. "Transurban went through a very similar cycle, with a large customer database with a large number of transactions of very low value, so we required a certain level of efficiency and performance from systems, and it was a fantastic challenge because we really drove some incredible bottom line savings at Transurban.

"What AGL offers me is a bigger scale of doing something similar . . . it's got a larger scale in customers, the transaction volumes are greater and the transaction values are greater. Some of the things I learned in the Transurban model I would like to apply to AGL, and there are also some new things. I've got some ideas about how to manage large customer relationships, large customer databases, large building-type systems."

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