CIO50 2020 #26-50 Darrel van Dort, Flexigroup
Flexigroup’s GM digital, Darrel van Dort has led the development of a new technology vision, enterprise architecture, product delivery methodology, and talent/capability programme since joining the company in August last year.
Serving a broad footprint of millennial spenders, through to young families and small and medium businesses, Flexigroup facilitates purchases for over 2.2 million customers across Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.
An established finance company, the company has seen its focus shift over the past few years to buy-now-pay-later (BNPL), reflecting changing customer preferences, in particular millennials.
In February this year Flexigroup launched its BNPL app ‘bundll’, the world’s first offering of its kind that works everywhere Mastercard is accepted, with no merchant integration required. It expands BNPL spend for everyday items, with interest free purchases in categories normally reserved for debit card spend such as petrol and groceries.
“bundll is a customer led product and an experience based digital app, which has meant we needed the ability to react to customer feedback quickly, be agile and allow for rapid releases,” van Dort explains.
It’s built on cloud-based infrastructure, containerised micro services and platforms, with Telemetry and Kubernetes enabling auto scale, auto heal and auto-recover.
The platform is also highly scalable according to business demand, while reusable components (including for fraud detection) across product verticals enable faster delivery.
Through the process of bringing bundll to fruition, Flexigroup has been able to establish common approaches, ways of working, new frameworks for innovation and managing technology platforms now supporting other products within Flexigroup.
“Through preparing for and developing bundll, we have created digital platforms that deliver business insights and analytics, enable data driven decision-making and continuous improvement,” says van Dort.
He and the team implemented a new ML/AI platform called Data Robot, which has improved credit approval accuracy by 145 percent and reduced losses. Meanwhile, a ‘feedback’ platform has reduced handling times by 35 percent, improving the customer experience.
“Smarter digital solutions leveraging automation provide better support and service, and more meaningful work for employees,” van Dort added.
The aforementioned digital projects created strong foundations for Flexigroup’s COVID-19 response, which included self-serve portals and smart website forms for hardship, which provided additional support for customers, while increasing operational efficiency.
Telling it like it is
“I believe in gaining trust through transparency and telling it like it is,” is how van Dort describes his approach to managing the team and making the case for digital more broadly with management and the organisation as a whole.
“I also encourage innovation and continuous improvement by supporting passion projects and taking a strengths-based leadership approach that leads to higher engagement, loyalty and increased job satisfaction.”
And van Dort certainly sees the strength in having a diverse team behind him.
“There is not enough diversity in the technology sector and I am doing my bit to change that,” he affirms, having appointed women to the heads of digital and engineering delivery roles. He’s also brought an additional four women – all experts in their fields – into the digital team.
Throughout Dort’s career, the most successful teams he has led or been a part of have reflected strong gender and cultural diversity, and today at Flexigroup 70 per cent of the digital team and 40 per cent of the data team are women, while the cloud engineering team is headed by a woman.