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Westpac takes new tech tack

Westpac takes new tech tack

Westpac Banking Corporation has engineered a dramatic shake-up of its computing and communications division as it prepares for major information technology projects, including a potential high-risk integration with St George Bank.

Westpac Banking Corporation has engineered a dramatic shake-up of its computing and communications division as it prepares for major information technology projects, including a potential high-risk integration with St George Bank and the replacement of its core transactional systems. The bank has dumped its business technology solutions and services unit in favour of a standalone technology department and a new products and operations group that will assume the non-technology functions of BTSS.

The move has again sparked concerns about the stability of the bank's senior technology ranks after the resignation of information systems boss Diane Sias after less than a year in the job.

Ms Sias will be replaced by former Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief information officer Bob McKinnon, who has ties to Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly and freshly minted product and operations group executive Peter Clare.

Mr McKinnon will join Westpac as group executive, technology, on August 18. He resigned as joint managing director of Brookfield Multiplex Group in March.

Ms Sias arrived at the bank from consultancy firm McKinsey last September and was appointed to the role of group executive, BTSS, after the departure of then division head Michael Coomer.

Ms Sias will leave Westpac in September. Her departure closely follows the resignation of the bank's long-time chief information officer Simon McNamara.

Westpac confirmed on Wednesday that Mr McNamara was leaving to take up a Singapore-based position at Standard Chartered Bank.

A spokeswoman for Westpac told The Australian Financial Review at the time that Ms Sias would assume Mr McNamara's duties.

"With Diane coming into her role it was always going to be a question of whether the CIO function was going to be part of her responsibility," the spokeswoman said. "With her capability and experience, it didn't make sense to have two people with that CIO function."

Rumours of ructions within Westpac's senior information technology ranks have been circulating for months and the arrival in March of Mr Clare, a former St George Bank CIO, heightened speculation that changes were afoot.

One analyst, who declined to be named, said yesterday that Westpac would now need to focus on bringing stability to the upper reaches of its technology department before the likely integration of St George and replacement of its core systems.

"Everyone in the IT department would be wondering about where it's going and their future would be nervous and uncertain," the analyst said.

"Westpac would also be looking for certainty and stability as soon as possible."

But Mr Clare said yesterday that the leadership changes had not affected project work and the IT department was well-placed to deliver on the bank's objectives.

"Yes, there have been a few people changes in that leadership role in a relatively short period but I certainly don't sense any issues concerning the robustness of the rest of the IT staff," he said.

Mr Clare also welcomed Mr McKinnon's appointment as chief information officer and said his experience working on the integration of Colonial First State while at Commonwealth Bank would be an asset.

The restructuring of Westpac's technology operations is intended to allow the unit to focus more fully on the bank's computing and communications needs.

KEY POINTS

· The Business Technology Solutions and Services unit is being replaced.

· Information systems boss Diane Sias will leave in September after less than a year in the role.

Fairfax Business Media

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Tags Mergers and acquisitionsfinancebank

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