1. Discuss your career in
IT. How did you get to where you are today?
I wasn’t a very successful student throughout high school; I struggled with the education system method of teaching in silos and focused on growing my knowledge in the IT industry. On my 14th birthday I went for my first job interview working after school and on weekends as I was hungry to start working.
Once the career advisor at school allowed us to start work experience, I would spend my school holidays doing work experience. I worked for companies like Retravision for consumer electronics sales experience, computer repair shops for hands on technical experience and charity organisations to fulfill a desire to help the community.
I graduated year 12 and two weeks later I began working for the Catholic Education Office, working in schools. It was a traineeship which would see me attend TAFE in the school holidays and work as an IT technician. In that same year, I also completed a Diploma in IT in the evenings.
My HSC results were not good
enough to see me attend university; this came later when I worked as the national
IT coordinator for Bushman Tanks. During my time there, I was assisted in
attending university to complete my Bachelor of Business with a major in IT.
This course enabled me to
connect everything I knew about IT with a business focus. I knew IT in Australia
was not going to be a lone department – it needed to be a true business
partner. So, I learned how to speak “business”. It was a huge benefit to learn
this new language and build better partnerships in the business as IT projects
followed the business strategy and demands of tomorrow.
Bushmans sadly fell into
receivership as the drought ended and I joined a medical device company,
Synthes. I became their ANZ IT coordinator managing a support desk and working
on national IT rollouts of video conferencing, IP telephony and e-commerce
solutions. This was where I first had the chance to manage a team, work closely
with customers and build IT as a strong asset to the business.
Synthes was sold to Johnson
& Johnson and this flipped my career upside down. I went from being at the
top of the IT food chain managing all aspects of IT to a role which saw me in a
larger team that had very focused roles.
The integration of Synthes into
Johnson & Johnson was my first project, leading the introduction of 400 staff
into a new business while maintaining adequate IT support and zero downtime was
a fantastic challenge and gave me the exposure to prove I had value to add at
My career with Johnson &
Johnson has been diverse and continually challenging. Through the years, I have
had the opportunity to grow into roles that expand across the Asia Pacific and
into different focus areas of IT. My current role is focus on data and analytics across the ASPAC region and working closer to the business than ever
The years prior when I shifted
focus towards the business certainly paid off. Understanding business needs and
tying that to an IT solution is everything. Regardless of the division I work
in, if I am not serving a business need, focused on the business strategy, then
I am not moving in the right direction. IT has moved from behind the scenes to
being side by side with the business, standing together to meet the customer
While all of the above is very
focused on the ‘9 to 5’, our lives in IT cannot be limited there. Early in my
career after being the IT person who gives consumer electronics advice (for
example, what laptop should I buy my son, what phone should I buy?), I decided
to start a blog and YouTube channel. I would review all forms of tech in written
or video form. I amassed a large audience and grew into millions of views. It
led to many new relationships with consumer electronics companies and trips
across the world to witness and cover product launches and interview CEOs.
It then led to joining a
community radio station once a week to talk technology; this was a fantastic
way to engage an audience through audio and learn a lot about producing a show
and operating a radio panel. I later merged my website with another industry
expert and we expanded into cars and lifestyle categories which went on to win
Best Independent Journalism at a consumer tech awards night.
I later left the community
radio station to join 2UE doing talkback radio on a Saturday morning, TV spots
across Channel 9, Channel 7, and Channel News Asia in Singapore. I am now
working with 2GB every week to talk tech and take calls on the weekend.
This part of my life is getting
busier and I’m well supported by my workplace to engage on this level. It has
led to speaking opportunities and a whole different level of exposure. Being
connected to technology at the forefront, where brands announce new products,
where new technology is introduced, is exactly where I need to be to ensure
that the workplace is ready when this comes, because it always enters the
2. What are the biggest
lessons you have learned throughout your career?
Never commit your career to
software or a manufacturer. The IT guy who held the company onto BlackBerry is
no longer employed. The developer who didn’t shift focus to iOS or Android is
no longer in demand.
Plans change. You aren’t always
in charge of your career plan, you aren’t in control of the market or the
company you work for, be ready for your (morning, month, year) plans to change.
Relationships matter. Whether
you report to them, they report to you or they’re just colleagues and
acquaintances, every relationship matters. You don’t know who you’ll be working
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?
The biggest focus for me
internally to the business is moving the Asia Pacific region onto our new
reporting platform Tableau with our new data lake infrastructure. The
introduction of interactive and dynamic reporting has been a huge
transformation for Johnson & Johnson and the learning curve for analysts is
steep. We are heavily engaged in ensuring that adoption grows, new insights are
discovered and that our business can understand their reporting needs faster,
on any device and anywhere.
Externally facing, I am
partnering with the business on a customer engagement. An IT partnership
project that reaches out to our customers, in the operating theatres and
creates deep integration between the two entities. Our relationships with the
customers are no longer just sales transactions and invoices, we are going
deeper than that to provide more value, more opportunity for efficiency and
building better relationships.
4. Which technologies will
drive the industry and your particular market sector this year?
Given my area of work it would have to be data and the tools around it. A business can no longer make a decision on a gut feeling or instinct. We are surrounded by various sets of data and we can collect data from many locations, systems and “things”. We must use the data within the business, data which surrounds our customers and data which impacts environmental factors to ensure we are making correct decisions and discovering insights we have never seen before.
The next phase is consumption, how is that data being consumed in the business? Is your sales manager able to ask Alexa for the answer to a question using your own data? Why not? The days of reading a regular report to find your own insight is behind us, we need to probe our systems for insights and systems like chatbots, Amazon Alexa, Google Home or even Siri can help us search for the answers we seek. Moving further beyond the spreadsheet or email delivered reports – what about that smart watch on your wrist?
Wouldn’t it be handy to glance at how you are tracking for the month in the same way we track our daily steps? Thinking outside the box on data and analytics is key for any business and blending it into our normal ways of living is even more important.
5. What are the biggest threats to the CIO role today in your opinion? Therise of the CDO and digital teams potentially relegating the CIO to managing traditional IT?
Given I am not in a CIO role (as at April 10, 2018) it would be the lack of focus on exactly what the business is doing. The IT department is no longer hidden underground, they should be sitting with and embedded throughout the company.
If you are not able to see how people work, ask questions why and how to generate insights to continually improve their situation, then what value is your department adding? It is not enough to IT to simply keep the lights on, we need to innovate through insights.
We cannot rely on Apple to tell us what is innovative, we need to work with our colleagues, our customers and our vendors to bring real innovation to life. If we don’t, someone else will, it could be a competitor or it could be another department in the business.
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?
Again, given I am not really in a position to be able to provide advice in this area. However the advice I provided above is potentially applicable across the board. People in these leadership positions needs to be ready to shift, pivot and flex in a moment, they need to be adaptive to the changes around them, pay attention to the trends in the industry and they need to take consumer technology seriously as tools that will enter the workplace.
The future CIO needs to be externally focused perhaps more so than internally at times, competitors/customers/trends should be examined as much as possible and not be afraid to shift directions. A five year plan is almost complete madness in an ever changing technology landscape.