AGL Energy's technology chief, Cesare Tizi, has quit the chief information officer role because of shrinking responsibilities brought about by the decreasing size of the business. Despite announcing plans to spend A$106 million on the rationalisation of more than 100 billing systems in mid-August, the role of the technology executive has been marginalised with widespread outsourcing and internal staff reductions following the demerger with Alinta last October.
AGL announced last month it had awarded a five-year A$16 million contract to Tata Consulting Services, India's leading global IT services provider, to support the new SAP-based retail system being built by Accenture for a fixed price of $90 million over the next two years. AGL said it would shed about 300 positions as part of the support contract awarded to TCS, with about 80 per cent of jobs already eliminated.
Mr Tizi turned down the opportunity to renew his three-year contract in May and will officially finish up this Friday. He has been at AGL for three years, but only sporadically since June as he conducted a controlled handover to his successor, Owen Coppage.
Mr Coppage is an internal promotion, but is not a direct replacement for the outgoing CIO. The role has been downgraded and he will take on the title of general manager of IT and report to chief financial officer Stephen Mikkelsen.
The demerger of AGL and Alinta last October had left Mr Tizi a complex job in unravelling the formerly shared systems. He said the $8 billion takeover of Alinta by Babcock & Brown and Singapore Power in August had added an extra layer of complexity to the task, but that the IT program remained in good shape.
In the time he was at AGL following the separation from Alinta it set up solid processes and a governance council made up of executives and technology specialists from both AGL and Alinta. Despite a number of complex issues involving "ring fencing rules", where sensitive information has to be kept away from the separate entities, the shared council was a success.
"Setting the council up was the best thing we did because it allowed us to bring all the issues of technology to the table and work through them in a co-operative fashion," Mr Tizi said. "I would have loved to see it to the end, but in reality it is going to go on for a while and I feel that I have left it in a state where there are the right processes and structure to go forward."
Mr Tizi said since winding down his full-time commitments with AGL he had been working with a senior recruitment house in the financial services sector, helping it to set up a management consultant practice to teach chief financial officers how to better measure the contribution made by technology to a business. He was planning to return to a CIO role, but would wait until a position came up with a major corporate player before jumping back into the market. He admitted to being interested in a role similar to the Qantas CIO position that was recently given to little-known European-based IBM executive Jamila Gordon.
"It is an interesting situation, we are seeing a lot of CIOs being drawn from overseas and I guess as an Australian CIO you have mixed feelings about that," Mr Tizi said. "I can understand some of the reasons as those roles in the big companies require special talents, but I do like the idea of those roles."
Australian Financial Review
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