The top 10 tech and digital chiefs in New Zealand

Highlights of the CIO50 awarding ceremonies in Auckland and Wellington

  • Credit: Divina Paredes

    CIO50 #1: Kevin Drinkwater, CIO, Mainfreight “This is an amazing tribute to our team,” says Kevin Drinkwater, on being the top ranked leader in the 2019 CIO50. “We have a team of around 120 people around the world, and they all contributed to this and made it happen.”

  • “We continue to innovate on many fronts, in many countries,” says Kevin Drinkwater, CIO at Mainfreight. He says Mainfreight’s technology-enabled projects range from Shipment Centre, the global online booking system for air and ocean freight in Asia, to a KPI Reporting system for its European operations. Close to home, Drinkwater’s team launched one of Mainfreight’s largest projects, Mainstreet, which resulted in having operations in New Zealand, Australia and the United States running on the same transport management system. But even their smaller projects can have significant impact on a crucial area of the business - such as ensuring the health and safety of their teams, their customers and emergency personnel.

  • CIO50 #2: Paul Littlefair, CIO, LIC Paul Littlefair is three years into an organisational wide digital transformation. “LIC develops 80 per cent of the genetics for one of New Zealand’s most important industries, and if we want to continue leading global pastoral dairy we must focus on innovative technology to enhance both genetics and farm management,” says Littlefair. “This digital transformation has allowed us to create an infrastructure and cultivate a culture that not only provides, but seeks out the necessary tools to deliver practical solutions to our farmers, quickly.”

  • CIO50 #3: Craig Bunyan, general manager technology, ANZ Bank New Zealand Craig Bunyan has built a technology team that is very much focused on delivering leading customer experience. They do this by working with both startups and larger technology companies, in using disruptive technologies to deliver easy, fast, safe and connected services. The technology team also teamed up with other business units, building agile tribes that are responsible for transforming the way they interact with customers. “It’s all about culture. That is the reason we have gone the agile and devops route. What we are trying to do is empower our staff, give them the tools and accountability they need to succeed and that is good for engagement.” And when this happens, staff perform better, says Bunyan. “It is a simple equation.”

  • CIO50 #4: Kevin Angland, general manager digital services, Mercury Kevin Angland leads a programme that is ahead of most organisations in New Zealand in delivering services using disruptive or emerging technologies. All these innovations were sourced from different business teams, not a specialist unit, he states. The digital and technology team played a major role in building the right culture for this type of cross functional collaboration and innovative approach that are so critical in the digital era.

  • CIO50 #5: Roger Jones, executive general manager technology, Auckland Transport “We wanted to improve operational efficiency and increase cross-functional collaboration, by disrupting and changing our traditional way of working,” says Roger Jones. He created the Customer Central programme that worked on a raft of innovative solutions using cloud and other disruptive technologies following a more agile way of working. Today the fit for use and fit for purpose systems they have introduced is now the norm across the organisation. The Customer Central programme started by the technology team has been handed back into a new unit in the business. This sends a clear message that the organisation is customer driven rather than technology driven.

  • CIO50 #6: Chris Trigg, chief digital officer, Southern Cross Health Society Pushing boundaries into new services and offerings is a key function of the digital team led by Chris Trigg. Over the past two years, Trigg has been leading the team in moving the organisation to more digital channels, and automating processes that were previously manual and onerous. “More than 92 per cent of claims are now submitted electronically, up from 80 per cent a year ago,” says Trigg. An equal focus is also given to improve the digital experiences of the workforce. That is just the start as the group is now foraying into AI-enabled systems that benefit both their customers and staff.

  • CIO50 #7: Brian Northern, group CIO, Fulton Hogan “My role is to bring the business perspective of technology - encompassing the standard to keep the lights on, cybersecurity, digital and innovation - to the executive table,” says Brian Northern. Northern is part of the leadership teams in New Zealand, Australia and the whole Fulton Hogan group. “My role is to bring the business perspective of technology - encompassing the standard to keep the lights on, cybersecurity, digital and innovation - to the executive table,” he says. “My focus is on how technology can achieve the strategic objectives of the organisation.”

  • CIO50 #8: Sarah Ellisdon, CIO, Counties Power Sarah Ellisdon adheres to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s famous dictum of, “Don't be a know-it-all; be a learn-it-all.” “This provides for a growth mindset which in turn, based on my team, leads to a happy and fun working environment...By promoting a culture of innovation, I am confident that our customers will be the ultimate benefactors, therefore meeting our strategic vision of engaging with and delighting our customers,” she says. “This is achieved through being customer-centric, ambitious, agile, commercial and ever willing to learn and adapt.”

  • CIO50 #9: Stella Ward, chief digital officer, Canterbury and West Coast District Health Boards “We have created the Via Innovation model to encourage designers of smart tech to partner with the health board,” says Stella Ward. Working with some of the biggest providers in the health sector allowed the district health boards to create a suite of software that boosted their ability to work as an integrated system, thus providing a more efficient and effective patient care. “This is one of the largest health software programmes ever undertaken in New Zealand – certainly in the past decade,” says Ward, providing a prime example of harnessing technology for the greater good.

  • CIO50 #10: Shayne Tong, chief digital officer, Auckland District Health Board Shayne Tong laid down the foundations to achieve the massive digital transformation plan - the end goal is to build a data-driven digital healthcare system for the Auckland region. “We now have a stronger focus on digital and data to ensure we ensure we transform into a data-driven, digital healthcare system,” says Tong.

  • The CIO50 also recognises the best ICT-enabled programme which helps solve a community or social issue. The 2019 winner is Zeal, with the support of the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation. The two worked together to create “Live For Tomorrow” an online crisis intervention. Lani Evans, manager Vodafone New Zealand Foundation and Andrew Sutherland, online crisis intervention manager of Zeal receive the award.

  • Christina Bellis, CEO of ThankYou Payroll, receives the highly commended award for best ICT-enabled community programme Thankyou Payroll provides a free payroll payroll intermediary service to small businesses and charities across New Zealand. The free service takes away the complexities of payroll calculations and compliance with Inland Revenue PAYE filing, enabling growth in the business/organisation ecosystem by freeing up their time and money. They are disrupting a very traditional sector (payroll and taxes) to be an example that any business can put purpose and profit side by side, and view this as the future of philanthropy.

  • Kerry Topp of Datacom and Barry Soutar of NZTE receive the highly commended award for the first hackathon for Maori organised by Te Tira Toi Whakangao, NZTE and Datacom Te Tira Toi Whakangao (T3W) and NZTE worked with Datacom to hold New Zealand’s first hackathon for Māori tech entrepreneurs. T3W is a group of global Māori tech companies and Māori sector investors collaborating to jump-start tech venturing ecosystems in regional Māori communities.

  • Datacom, Poly and Umbrellar sponsored the 2019 CIO50 event at the Hilton in Auckland

  • Datacom and Poly sponsored by 2019 CIO50 event in Wellington

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