It is important to be able to set up delivery capability where we can build to the customer requirements as quickly and as efficiently as possible, and for technology to move fast
Upon graduation, Craig Musker had the option to pursue a job in any of his two major subjects - marketing and information technology.
He chose the latter, and more than 20 years later, can say that this led him to a raft of interesting work in some of the most disrupted industries.
He was in London in the midst of the dotcom boom, working in a startup. He also worked in BBC.com, TopGear.com, LonelyPlanet.com, BBCGoodFood.com, RadioTimes.com and other digital properties for BBC Worldwide. In New Zealand, he has worked in ICT firms, in government and the private sector.
Two months ago, he stepped up to his first chief information officer role, at Cigna New Zealand. His predecessor, Carmen Casagranda, is now the Asia Pacific CIO for Cigna, based in Hong Kong.
“I am innovating and delivering with one of New Zealand’s largest life insurers,” says Musker. He is also a board member of The Instillery.
Musker came from ANZ Bank, where he was head of digital banking, and before that, programme director for internet banking.
Collaboration and innovation amidst disruption
What stands out for him in his early and current experiences is working in industries that are in fast changing environments.
In London, the first company he worked for was the startup QXL, one of the first online auction companies.
He recalls being interviewed at 9:30 pm for the role, and got a call at 8:30 am to start that day.
“It was pretty exciting times,” he says. “As a startup they were employing left, right, and centre and had lots going on.”
“My technology, project management and software development expertise was quite a good fit for the company.”
Being with BBC, where among others, he helped set up the supporting technology for the show Top Gear, gave him front row insights on the changing media industry.
“The thing I found was no matter what the industry, and the way you are doing things, there are key ingredients. And it is obviously people,” he says. “It is important to have the right people and good people.”
He applies this at Cigna where he leads a diverse team with different expertise, and “a real focus on delivery execution”.
He notes that Cigna’s recent acquisition of the OnePath from ANZ Bank doubles the size of the company. "It also presents us with massive opportunities."
He says that having a background in both IT and marketing allowed him to work in both the technology and business sides of organisations.
“It made me see the importance of technology and business working together,” he says. “It is very much a joint partnership.”
“What does the customer want? From there, you work with the business to provide technology to solve some of those problems.”
He says Cigna provides the environment that makes this collaboration possible.
In the past four weeks, for instance, the technology team has made three major decisions and these were approved in a very short space of time.
“This allows us to move really quickly, but it also helps us where we see things that need solving. We can suggest, ‘this is what we can do’, and get real management support.”
He says one of the great things in working for the New Zealand arm of an international company is that they are able to try some ideas in a smaller market.
We have the flexibility to do this, and the parent company sees the benefit of these types of activities, he says.
He says his major projects include the integration with OnePath, business intelligence and big data, and implementing a more agile process across the business.
“This brings a lot of opportunities, it will shape how we deliver to customers,” he says.
“In insurance, and in any industry as well, it is [important] to be able to set up delivery capability where we can build to the customer requirements as quickly and as efficiently as possible, and for technology to move fast.”
“We have a good base here to do that."
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