Can’t blow it
Perhaps tougher have been the decisions made about the technology team itself – how it is structured, how it operates and which tools it uses.
Ross became Tabcorp CIO in the merger – she had previously held the same role at Tatts – which resulted in CIO Kim Wenn departing after more than eight years in the top IT role and over a decade at the company.
Every role within the new technology function was reviewed. Often there wasn’t a “one to one mapping” of roles, Ross explains.
“We advertised all roles that we had available, opened them up for expressions of interest and went through quite rigorous processes to appoint people. Where within the organisation there weren’t comparative skills we were doing direct appointments,” she says.
“Many of the roles were up-weighted so the scope and scale of them was significantly larger. It actually presented some great opportunities for the great people and talent we had in our organisations to step up and in some cases move into a different area,” Ross adds.
Nevertheless, the initiative “certainly resulted in leaders exiting”.
The combined function – made up of around 1,000 employees plus contractors – is now seeking to standardise its ways of working. Ross says that teams are at different stages when it comes to their adoption of contemporary working styles like Agile, lean and DevOps.
“You might have a team that’s accustomed to working in a really agile way and they’re used to delivering every fortnight, or every week; working with a team who may deliver a few times a year. You can imagine, to deliver some of the integration outcomes, you have to align that cadence, and connect those teams up,” Ross says.
“We can’t blow the place up right? Change takes time, but by the same token, [you have to] make sure they’re not frustrating each other and paralysing one team or the other,” Ross says.
Ross has established a ‘delivery practices team’ packed with coaches and programs to instil new ways of working across the function, and a pilot ‘Pivot Program’ is underway to “officially mandate” the practices.
We just could not fail
“It was a really hard leadership year if I’m really honest,” Ross admits.
“Leading a group of people, keeping them engaged, being transparent, when you’re under a lot of pressure yourself as a leader to transition and deliver at the same time, to deliver integration programs as well as deliver on those major business events where we just could not fail…” she says. “That’s a massive leadership challenge.”
The big decisions around technology and how the function runs have been made with as clear a head as possible, in “what at times could be a really emotive conversation where people were passionate about their technologies and their achievements of the past,” Ross adds.
The coming together of the two companies’ cultures is still a ‘work in progress’ Ross says. But despite the differences Ross says she has “found more commonalities than anything”.
“A real desire to become a more digitally led organisation, a desire to connect more with customers and be more customer led and focused,” she says. “I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.”
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