1. Discuss your career in IT. How did you get to where you are today?
It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve worked across quite a few industries and a several IT areas – development, infrastructure, projects, strategy and innovation. Every area has something different to teach you and the application of IT can be very different across industries.
Currently I’m in a CIO role in the aged care and community services space which encompasses all of the technology areas I’ve worked in previously and a few extra challenges on top. It’s an industry rapidly maturing in technology usage and seeing lots of exciting potential for innovation which is one of my favourite aspects of being in IT.
2. What are the biggest lessons you have learned throughout your career?
Firstly change is constant in both technology and business and you constantly need to reinvent your thinking and skills.
Secondly I’m fond of saying it’s become more about psychology than technology – it really comes down to the people and how you get the best outcomes in working with them whether they are your stakeholders, peers or staff.
Finally IT can be very complex and there are inevitable failures mixed with the successes. I think it’s incredibly important to be resilient when confronted with things that do not go well and incorporate the lessons into future initiatives.
3. Describe some of the biggest technology and business projects you are working on at the moment and what are you trying to achieve with them?
It’s never a dull day as we have a very varied portfolio of projects. In one part of the business we are implementing blueprints for assistive technology for staff and clients in large building developments. In another business unit we are mobilising a large workforce with advanced logistical software.
We have several initiatives to enhance our CRM and BI platforms, develop digital engagement channels and improve our cyber security maturity. From an innovation perspective we are experimenting with technologies such as wearables, robotics and telehealth solutions. Most projects are trying to either optimise the business in terms of cost, risk or performance or maximise the customer experience.
4. Which technologies will drive the industry and your particular market sector this year?
It’s an exciting time - some of the emerging technologies are fascinating. AI and cognitive computing have enormous potential and interesting use cases right now and are going to drive many industries.
Robotics, IOT and wearables are going to drive efficiencies and insight into better healthcare practices but will take some time to become mainstream. Cybersecurity is always an area of focus and will take on more importance with stricter privacy laws.
5. What are the biggest threats to the CIO role today in your opinion? (The rise of the CDO and digital teams potentially relegating the CIO to managing traditional IT?)
I always prefer to think in terms of opportunities rather than threats but to me the key is demonstrating value in the CIO role. The embedding of digital technology in virtually every aspect of modern business and the unique perspective of the CIO role seeing across the whole business really puts you in the position of a key 'go to' person assuming you can demonstrate business leadership.
An article I read recently noted with the rapid emergence of digital business there is an uptick of CIOs going into CEO roles which I think is a very positive sign for the future of the CIO role.
6. What advice do you have for senior technology staff looking to become IT chiefs? What skills do they need to succeed in the role?
For people looking to move in the CIO role the skill areas I would focus on would be strategy, change leadership and business acumen. Strong strategic skills are a must to plan and navigate the longer term business challenges in the context of rapid change.
The ability to lead change requires strong leadership and influencing skills and great relationships with your executive peers, key stakeholders and your own staff. Business acumen is incredibly important – you must understand the fundamentals of your business, its customers and the markets it operates in otherwise you will not understand the context of where technology can solve pain points or provide competitive advantage.
If you are looking to make the move in the future honestly assess where your gaps lie and work on closing them. Finding a trusted mentor/coach, gaining more diverse experience across IT and finding stretch assignments are great ways of developing. The CIO job can be a tough gig so the closer you are to operating at that level before you make the leap the greater your chances of being a great CIO.
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