Theta Systems introduces new leadership

Company pays tribute to CEO and chairman Steve Saunders who died in January.

Interim CEO of Theta Systems, Rob Lee, has secured tenure in the role, and the company has made a number of other key appointments. Lee is the company’s former sales manager and has filled the CEO position since the sudden death of CEO and chairman Steve Saunders in January.

Saunders was among the handful of New Zealand CIOs who have moved to CEO roles. Originally from the UK, Saunders migrated to New Zealand in 1977 and his career highlights included 10 years as CIO of meat company Affco, and five years as chief technology officer at the University of Auckland.

At his suggestion, a team of contractors employed at Affco banded together to form Theta in 1995. Saunders continued to mentor the owners of the new company, becoming an independent director in November 2005, and in 2006 took the helm as CEO, and became board chairman in 2008. He was set to retire at the end of March (CIO featured him in an article on entrepreneurial CIOs).

The new CEO, Lee, secured the role over what the company says was a large number of external applicants. He has held senior positions at HP and Oracle and spent nine years at Data General.

He says the company retained staff during the recession last year and is well positioned to handle expected growth.

“Whilst most of us found the past year challenging, work has continued strongly for Theta, especially with clients looking to invest in business intelligence systems. We expect business intelligence to continue to grow and expect business in general to pick up over the next few months.”

Saunders’ role has been split, with Susan Paterson taking the reins as chairperson in February. She is a former independent director for Theta Systems and has served on the boards of Les Mills New Zealand, Ports of Auckland and Transpower, among others.

The company has also introduced a service delivery manager role, which will be taken up by Steve Ashby in mid April. According to Lee, Ashby has held similar roles at Axon for many years.

“I really like his ‘customer first’ approach, which is very much in tune with the Theta way, and he will add a lot to our management team,” says Lee.

Lee Benson has been promoted to financial director, incorporating human resources, and will hand over some day to day accounting payroll duties to other Theta staff, Lee says.

The firm also intends to hire another salesperson in Auckland and plans to soon announce Lee’s replacement as sales manager. Lee says the role will be different to the one he held, as it will include direct account management as well as managing the salesforce.

In addition, Dave Heads has been recruited to a Wellington-based business development manager role.