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Q&A: Australian Property Institute CIO, Joel Leslie

Q&A: Australian Property Institute CIO, Joel Leslie

Former head of technology at Raine and Horne, Joel Leslie, is the CIO of the Australian Property Institute

Joel Leslie joined the Australian Property Institute (API) some 18 months ago and as CIO wasted no time in writing a challenging strategy for the organisation. Leslie’s approach involved changing the API’s philosophy dramatically to a holistic approach that would enable staff to work from anywhere around the world; a big plus for member and volunteers. With this method, data would no longer be defined in the way it was communicated or distributed, such as marketing or information technology, but instead just as information across the board.

Leslie sat down with CIO Australia to chat about what an average day for him entails and the big challenges he’s facing as CIO.

What does an average work day involve for you?

I’ve got a pretty big portfolio. My portfolio I like to see is managing the information in the organisation and that includes communication right through and I don’t mean communication as in IT communication; it’s communication in marketing, media and technology.

A day for me can be about 12 hours and it usually is and, I hate to say it, but sometimes seven days a week. But it gives me the opportunity to get things done.

With a membership organisation I feel it’s my responsibility to deliver what I set out to deliver, because the last thing I want to do is waste the members’ money.

I like to think that my wage is made up of this many members to get me to what I’m doing. I don’t like wasting time and I don’t get paid for 12 hours, seven days a week, but I like to have different days to do different things. The website is taking up a lot of time at the moment because that’s the face of the API and I really want to make sure that is working, as it was horrible before.

What are some of the major challenges you face in the role of CIO?

I’ve been blessed in this role because I’ve got people believing in me, whereas in previous roles it’s been very hard to get people to believe in what you’ve set out to do.

You’ve got to be a very good communicator in getting people to not only listen to what you’re doing but to trust you actually know what you’re doing.

I was lucky enough that I didn’t really have to sell the projects as I had the confidence of the board, and I think you can get that by being new in an organisation or by delivering successful projects; luckily I did both.

I have to say it’s actually a big risk, to trust someone to revolutionise, because I did — I completely stripped the guts out of the organisation and put it back, but if it didn’t work the business would fail because everything is run through our central system, like finance, communication, and memberships. You always doubt yourself but it all worked out well in the end.

What are some of the recent projects you have been working on?

We have been implementing the Amazon Web Services platform to support our customer relationship management product, which wasn’t functioning to its potential when I came on board.

What are the big issues facing CIOs today?

I think understanding where the industry is going.

I think we’re at the tipping point right now, specifically in Australia because we’re not in a recession, there’s a bit of money around, people are investing in projects and you’ve got companies like Amazon coming here wanting to implement this new technology. I feel we’re just about at the tipping point of change and I think the one thing the CIOs really need to do is think outside the square.

I think far too many CIOs don’t really understand the strategy of the organisation or don’t know how to fit the strategy into the business, it’s a big thing to think about and change, because if you don’t you’ll be stuck running Windows technology in a traditional Windows environment.

What is your favourite gadget?

It was my iPad until I left it in a taxi in Washington or LA; I had put a GPS tracker in it and it turned up in Canberra.

I sent a few messages to it and set the alarm but I never heard anything back so I just remotely wiped everything off it.

The Cloud enabled me to completely remove my identity from that device. The best thing Apple has probably done is the iCloud.

I think next I’m going to get a Samsung Galaxy or possibly I might try the new Sony, but I’ll wait for the iPad 3 just to see the difference.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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