Carolyn Algar already had 15 years’ experience in the IT industry when she enrolled in Victoria University’s Master of Information Management (MIM). She was also working full-time as a project delivery manager at Meridian Energy and had a number of other senior positions on her already impressive CV. But, with an eye on career progression, Algar realised that additional study would be key in order to take that next step.
The MIM provided Algar with the confidence and skills necessary to take on the role of CIO. Additionally, the highly customisable nature of the degree meant that she was able to study further within a topic that was of keen interest to her.
Now Algar is the CIO at Z Energy New Zealand, where she is putting her newfound knowledge and skills to practice with a close focus on sustainability.
“We’ve made some big strides at Z with sustainability,” Algar said. “For example, Z is now one of New Zealand’s largest private recyclers, having reduced waste to landfill by around 60 percent and swapping out all forecourt lighting with LED lights, cutting energy consumption by five percent.
“Additionally, Z is currently completing the country’s first ever commercial scale biodiesel plant, which will produce 20 million litres of renewable fuel per annum and reduce carbon emissions by 37,000 tonnes per annum.”
According to the MIM programme director at the School of Information Management, Victoria University’s Business School, Dr Jocelyn Cranefield, it is not uncommon for students at both the Wellington and Auckland campuses to enter the degree with specific outcome goals related to taking senior roles within their respective industries.
“We very often ask students to complete projects in which they look specifically at a challenge that they are having in their organisation, and that usually involve having a discussion with the CIO or CEO or senior managers,” Dr Cranefield said.
“We aim to give students the skills they need to find their way to relevant and reliable research-based information materials, and then critique it accurately. We give people the ability to judge the quality of information, and this helps them take leadership in their organisation by adopting that position of a strategic thinker with substantiated research backing their suggestions.”
For her part, Algar said undertaking the MIM programme was perfect, in that it provided theoretical concepts that she could apply to her experience and practical knowledge.
“It challenged my thinking. When you rely on your own experience, you develop a way of thinking. The MIM programme really opened my eyes. It provided me with additional frames of reference I could apply to solving business problems, which meant I wasn’t limited by what I had observed. Instead, I could combine my knowledge with up to date research and case studies,” Algar said.
“Most of the classes involve some sort of group activity and class discussions and are made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds, so you get to learn from experiences of people in other industries.”
The other great benefit of the MIM program from a professional development perspective has been the networking opportunities that it has provided. Algar continued to work full-time while studying and graduated after three years with distinction. But she continues to learn from her former classmates who she regularly meets for a catch up.
One of the key lessons from the MIM programme, is how to access unbiased information - from both peers and other resources.
“Since the course, I’m a lot more proactive about finding information on industry trends. I also now know how to evaluate data, as opposed to relying on what comes from vendors or suppliers. You learn to ask ‘what’s the real currency of that information?’ which helps when making fact-based decisions,” Algar said.
“Algar’s story is one that represents the very spirit of the MIM, in helping senior managers develop the skills and, most importantly, confidence that they need in order to put their name forward for an executive role,” said Dr Cranefield.
“A lot of people would like to see themselves moving into a CIO role. We used to position that as the endpoint of the MIM courses, but we don’t do that anymore as there’s simply so many executive roles out there, and the CIO title itself isn’t for everyone. But we do continue to focus on helping driven employees realise their ambition of reaching the very top of their respective industries.”
More information about the course and what it offers to executives can be found below: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/information-management. Information on course fees, as well as scholarship and employer payment information is also covered.