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A CIO’s handbook: Planning for the long game

A CIO’s handbook: Planning for the long game

Victor Vae’au does not have a separate ICT strategy - it is Future35, the framework for change of the New Zealand Defence Force in the next 25 years.

Victor Vae’au did not develop a separate, specific ICT strategy for the New Zealand Defence Force – he developed an ICT remediation approach based on the Defence Future35, the framework for change of Defence Force in the next 25 years.

For Vae’au, who has been chief information officer at the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) for nearly five years, this approach was deliberate to ensure business alignment and risk management.

“We are dealing with the complexity of culture, environment and a multitude of interfaces,” says Vae’au at the recent CIO100 event in Wellington.

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“The Future35 is not a technological conversation,” he says. “It is our roadmap, it is our shared goal and our reference point; why we are here doing what we do”

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The plan states by 2035, NZDF will be a fully integrated force. It provides three frameworks to achieve this: five-year plan (the Joint Amphibious Task Force for the short and near term), 10-year plan (Enhanced Combat Capability for the mid-term), and 25-year plan (the Integrated Defence Force long term).

“It is the long game when you are orchestrating ICT amongst the business changes at the Defence Force,” he states. “You cannot talk about capabilities and ICT without linking it all to Future35.”

A comprehensive, complex domain

Vae’au says he holds one of the most “fascinating” business technology executive roles and a post that can make a “great difference” to New Zealand.

Vae’au joined the Defence Force in 2008 as head of operations. Two years later, became its chief information officer.

His background is in banking, including ANZ National Bank where his roles included senior manager, application development, retail/rural and senior manager of infrastructure management. After more than five years with the National and ANZ banks in ICT-related roles, he decided to "round out" his career with public-service experience – and now heads one of the largest ICT departments in the country.

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You cannot talk about capabilities and ICT without linking it all to Future35.

Victor Vae’au, NZ Defence Force

“The New Zealand Defence Force is like a country in many aspects,” explains Vae’au.

“Every line of business is there. We have our own transport industry, logistics, airplanes, hotels, and hospitals – the whole lot. And all of those come with systems and people to operate these.

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“Our services need to cater for the men and women who join Navy, Army and Air Force in the NZDF and if you think about it, we then have a duty of care to cater for their changing environment as they grow, have families and differing priorities as they go on in life,” he states. “I'm proud to contribute to the services that support them. ICT is well positioned enable these services digitally.

“At the same time, we are trying to change how we do our business.”

Next: 'Keeping the lights on' globally

Read more: Across the board

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