The Coalface Community
Where were you educated? University of Wales, Cardiff
Where do you live? Balmain, Sydney
Are you married? Kids? I am in a very contented long-term relationship. I have three children – a son (Gareth) and a daughter (Morgan) both in their 20s and beginning to make their way in the world and a five year old son, (Lachlan), who very much keeps me on my toes.
What are your interests outside work? Like many parents, my Saturdays revolve around Lachlan – piano lessons, football matches and swimming classes. Other than that, I’ve been a Toastmaster for nearly 30 years, I try and swim twice a week, I do a weekly stretching class, which I find is agony but also very beneficial and I play golf, to a very poor standard, about twice a month.
What are you reading at the moment? I’ve just finished the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs which I really enjoyed. I’m about half way through Edward de Bono’s book Tactics and I’ve just started The Shock of the Old by David Edgerton.
Professionally, who do you admire most? André Mendes, the CIO at the International Broadcasting Bureau in Washington. André is the best and most insightful speaker on IT I’ve ever heard. He is someone who has elected to work for organisations that are cash strapped and which require a commitment to a cause. Yet André has a track record of delivering effective change management projects which have greatly enhanced these businesses. However, he is also a delightfully unassuming and engaging personality.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Own your life – take responsibility for the life you lead and live – you are much more in control of your destiny than you might be prepared to acknowledge.
A lesson you’ve never forgotten? I was doing a team building exercise when I worked at Unisys. Our task revolved around how we would respond after surviving a plane crash in the Arctic. A colleague (Marje Bird) and I felt it was imperative we stayed near the plane. The rest of our team convinced us that we should try and make our way to safety. Both Marje and I were lambasted by the trainer afterwards for not having the courage of our convictions because in real life the other team members would almost certainly have led us to our deaths.
How long have you been working in IT? 30 years.
What was your first job? Fruit picking. I earned about 50¢ for a back breaking day’s work picking blackcurrants. I soon realised there were more enjoyable and rewarding ways to make a living.
What’s the best thing about working with IT executives? I see IT executives as agents of change. This means IT is an industry which is open to new ideas. I find this fascinating and invigorating.
What is the worst? The marketing hype which creates false impressions and expectations and which clouds the real challenges CIOs face in bringing effective change management to a business.
What is your favourite networking situation? Roundtable lunches – a convivial setting and an intimate group of CIOs can lead to a lively, enlightening and entertaining discussion.
What will you do when you retire? Die – I have no interest in retiring.
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