Q&A: Westpac Group CIO, Clive Whincup

Q&A: Westpac Group CIO, Clive Whincup

Whincup talks leadership, managing IT in a banking environment and why CIOs need to become more effective

Westpac Group chief information officer, Clive Whincup.

Westpac Group chief information officer, Clive Whincup.

Westpac Group chief information officer, Clive Whincup, took over from former CIO, Bob McKinnon, in December last year and has forged ahead with the bank’s 15 IT strategic investment priorities (SIPs). He is currently working on Westpac’s online banking transformation.

Whincup sat down with CIO Australia to discuss how the SIP programs are going, his leadership style, managing IT in a banking environment and why CIOs need to become more effective.

What does an average work day involve for you at the Westpac Group?

I spend as much time as possible talking to colleagues and teams to understand what they are doing and their challenges. I’m also finding how we can take learning’s from one part of the organisation and apply it to others. A large part of leadership is about talking to people. I don’t think you can be an effective leader unless you like people and have the ability to empathise with how they are feeling.

There are lots of decisions to be made in this role on a day-to-day basis and I like to get involved in the right amount of detail. It’s quite easy to get sucked into far too much detail which doesn’t allow you to understand the implications of what you’re deciding.

Governing an organisation as diverse as Westpac is a challenge. A lot of that is about the ability to understand the technology, the application of this technology and what it means to customers.

Another challenge is setting clear strategies and strategic outcomes that are constant over time, even though circumstances change. If you can’t learn to anticipate those changing environmental factors, then you won’t succeed as a CIO over time.

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

Over the last three years within Westpac we have delivered some very significant programs. These include an integration of the credit card system from St. George and Westpac onto a single platform, a new collections platform and introduced the St. George teller application to the Westpac branch environment.

We’re currently working on a range of projects in our compliance portfolio which means implementing financial services regulatory changes. We also continue to make good progress with our internet banking system which is a significant program in the SIPs portfolio. Our online transformation project is focused on making a step change in the underlying technology.

In addition to that, we’re also looking at IT investments in our wholesale/ payment space and wealth business.

What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?

Within financial services we have to become more effective and efficient. That’s to do with the way we undertake programs but also how we manage knowledge within the organisation and how effective we are at managing our people.

There are a number of upcoming challenges in the payments space because there are areas where financial institutions need to balance regulatory requirements against the need for technology which is orientated towards the customer.

What is your favourite gadget?

Mine would have to be the iPad because it’s one of the most helpful and adaptable tools that I’ve started using.

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