Joseph Gullotta, CIO of Australian Power & Gas, navigated his career around the infrastructure, application and development side of IT. This early immersion in this side of IT allowed him to be a well-rounded manager and to understand his staff and management team better, he says.
“Early on in my career I knew I wanted to be a CIO and for me to do this job well I knew I needed a broad level of IT experience. I needed to have application development, infrastructure and IT support understanding to be able to manage staff and work closely with other business leaders. “I know my staff really well and understand their strengths and weaknesses.”
Gullotta says having a supportive team, being able to listen to people and allowing everyone to have input, as well as leading by example and working hard, are a must for CIOs. “A CIO must build a team you can trust and rely on – a team that works together and looks after each other is the most important thing. I feel my team can deliver anything and do anything I ask from them. I have total trust in them,” he says.
Having good business sense to be able to drive a company forward with a sound IT strategy, being a good people person and being able to multitask to stay abreast of multiple projects and activities are also important, he says. In addition to his application and infrastructure experience, Gullotta had previously worked in a programming role. Jumping from an infrastructure role into a programming role was challenging, he says, and he had to start at the bottom and work his way up.
“I had no previous experience in that discipline of IT and therefore I also had to accept a drop in salary [in a more junior role]. [However], I knew in the long run that this mix of IT experience would allow me to get to the type of role I wanted.”
Gullotta believes the executive team needs to understand and be shown the importance of IT in a company. Otherwise, it is easy for IT to lose its ‘voice’ and be seen as just a cost or service that a company needs to use.
“The CIO of a company should help a business achieve their business goals and objectives and advise on how technology may be used to achieve these business goals most efficiently.
“It is important to implement technology where it makes business sense and the CIO can show technology has a real part to the growth and expansion to a business. These companies that embrace technology can grow at a much faster rate and also find efficiencies to keep their cost down.”
Gullotta says one of the biggest issues CIOs are facing today is being able to have this voice at the executive level, but also “being viewed more than an IT geek [and] as someone with knowledge and valuable insight to the company’s business”. He believes one of the most important questions CIOs can ask themselves is, “If it was your money, how would you spend it?” This means treating every dollar as their own to ensure they spend money responsibly.
“I think it is important that new CIOs keep thinking what is best for the company? What is going to deliver the business goals that the company is seeking? How can IT contribute to the growth of the company and make it more profitable?” he says.
In the rapidly changing face of the IT industry, Gullotta says Cloud will continue to be embraced and demand for tablets will contunue to increase. “The main area which I see will have a lot of momentum for the next two years is Cloud technologies. The other piece would be the movement to tablet devices.
“The desktop and notebook will not be a must-have for every business user and we may be able to have users using table-sized devices only. This will reduce the number of traditional desktops and notebooks but increase demands on these other thinner and lighter devices.”
Gullotta is now looking ahead to help drive Australian Power & Gas to its goal of achieving $1 billion in revenue in 2015. This means continuing to build on the investment in the enterprise IT environment made over the past two years, and utilising data warehouse and business intelligence “to deliver the information and dashboards to our management team, [which] will allow us to make more informed decisions”.
He says the best piece of advice he has ever received was from his parents: “If you are not going to do or deliver something at 100 per cent, then don’t do it at all.”
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.