Since gracing the cover of CIO magazine in October 1998, Michael Young has undergone title, role and responsibility changes, followed by a change in company and industry. However, while Young's 10-year career at CIO level has been synonymous with change, his forthright views, especially on the relationship between IT and business, remain constant.
"IT doesn't partner [with] the business, we are part of the business," says Young. "So don't make any apologies for that, we should be proud of the fact. We don't need to justify our existence, as IT deserves to be in the middle of the business. But we do need to justify what we're doing and we do need to be very critical of our own deliverables and our cost."
Currently director IT and billing, Hutchison Telecommunications, Young's first CIO role was as IT director for Nortel, where he was initially responsible for Australasia before assuming broader Asia Pacific responsibilities for IT. He moved from Nortel to Galaxy Pay TV and then in October 1996 he was appointed to the newly-created position of chief information officer at brewing group Lion Nathan. Here, he was responsible for the overall IT strategy of the company across Australia, New Zealand and China.
Another regional role followed when Young joined Arnott's and Campbell's Soup in February 1998. When he first featured in CIO later that year he was group IT director, Asia Pacific. Previously, Arnott's and Campbell's had each had its own IT manager in Australia and Young's mandate was to leverage the synergies between the two companies in terms of both IT and business processes. For whereas Arnott's was a well established business, Campbell's was still a green fields operation in the region at the time.
Back then, Young said: "I've worked for some pretty good companies, but Arnott's is very different from most. The management structure is very flat and it's probably the least bureaucratic company I've known for getting decisions made and being open. I felt the culture would serve my style and allow me to drive forward some of the philosophies I have for IT." Much has happened since, but Young says his sentiments towards Arnott's have not changed (although he is noticeably more candid these days about his time at Lion Nathan).
"Arnott's was - and is - a great company," he says. "It's very modern and fast paced and many of the technologies we put in place were really enabling Arnott's to drive the success that it has today. We worked together as an executive team on a strategy that was all about innovative new product design, reducing cost, maximising the Arnott's and Campbell's sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution networks and bringing the soup and biscuit sides of the business together under an umbrella and making it one company."
In addition, what started out at Arnott's as a fairly stock standard senior IT role, as Young describes it, broadened as he took on non IT-based strategic responsibilities in the Asia Pacific region. His title also changed to vice president for IT, Asia Pacific.
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