Ingham's Group general manager of IT, Jose Perez, has been promoted to the role of CIO, replacing Richard McPartlin who said he officially “pulled the pin at the end of last year” and had his official last day January 31.
McPartlin, who was ranked in last year’s CIO50 list, is considered an IT executive and CIO with extensive leadership and digital transformation experience across a diverse array of industries and geographies.
Perez, meanwhile, has been in the GM role at the poultry producer since December 2015. He brings more than 20 years of business technology experience delivering large scale transformational changes to business across the globe.
He has previously held senior IT director positions across Asia Pacific for various multinationals including Energizer, 20th Century Fox, Clorox and SC Johnson.
Ingham’s is the largest vertically integrated poultry business across Australia and New Zealand, with large scale industrial operations spanning the entire value chain, including a quarantine facility, breeder farms, hatcheries, feed mills, broiler farms, primary processing, further processing, protein conversion and distribution.
As CIO, Perez will be responsible for the company’s technology strategy, policies, processes and practices to support its large business.
“It’s a big role, we have a great team and I am very excited to be able to contribute to Ingham’s growth and profitability,” Perez told CIO Australia.
“We have lots of opportunities to innovate across our business with such a large infrastructure and applications landscape and we like to move fast. IT governance, however, is absolutely key in an era of ‘everything as a service’ as well as avoiding getting caught up with vendor hype. A good example of this is in the digital space. Whilst digitisation is making IT cool again, you have to be very careful to not get caught up in all the noise.”
Perez said he’s excited by the vastness and sheer size of the Ingham’s business - there are 8,000 employees across the A/NZ region - and is mindful of his international experience in the FMCG space, having gathered experience seeing what works and what doesn’t.
“What’s challenging about this business, and the bit that gets me excited, is it’s a front-facing, FMCG type business. We have a range of customers, but the backend of our business is an agri-business so we’re dealing with farms, we’re dealing with a whole bunch of different technologies and challenges.”
Eyeing areas of IT investment, he said “hot areas” to watch and the ones that are going to make a big difference to the company include the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics, which he called real game changers.
“The demand we are getting for real-time dashboarding, real-time performance, particularly because we’re dealing with poultry (with live animals), across our supply chain, I think that’s going to be the only area we are going to have to adjust.”
Overall, he said the company roadmap involves an ongoing focus on supporting its HR systems; quality systems; and supply chain.
“They are the big ticket items,” he said. “One of our values is we are aspiring to be a world-class food company and in order to do that you can’t just get one thing right - you’ve got to get a lot of things right - and we also have a very, very complex supply chain.
“We are a fully integrated business. We manage end-to-end the hatcheries, the food we make for our poultry, the distribution - it is a very complex supply chain and we have so many touch points from a technology point of view. So that is why quality is key in everything we do and hence a focus from a roadmap point of view."
Perez acknowledged the company has legacy IT, like the majority of companies, and said he is up for the challenge.
“I remind people that whether it’s about ERP or consumer technologies … legacy begins the day you put something in.”
He recognises the company does have a legacy ERP system, but there’s still a great opportunity to do some “exciting and interesting things” with the middleware platform the company has heavily invested in.
“What that allows us to do is very quickly look for, in a bespoke environment, best of breed solutions (whether it is quality or HR) and integrate it with all of the application landscape that we have. It allows us to move our data around. So I’m not too concerned about our legacy system. It is meeting all of our business requirements today and it is being supported by a fantastic team that we have in house.”
He said another big challenge is the fact there aren’t many ERP vendors in the poultry vertical.
“If you were in the mining business, you would go talk to SAP or Oracle and they would have a vertical solution for you in that space to address all of the layers of complexity in your business. In poultry, the big players . . . don’t have a poultry vertical.
“So what that means is we have to rely on best-of-breed, we have to rely on customised solutions a lot of the time for some of these business challenges.”
Asked his main goals in the new role, Perez said his guiding principles are to partner with the business, consolidate, simplify and optimise.
“My role is to be a business leader first and a technology leader second. I will be challenging the team every day to ensure we remain focussed on delivering tangible business outcomes.”
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