5 minutes with... Peter Dean, General manager business systems, Pasminco Limited

What does Pasminco do, and where is your head office?

Pasminco is the world’s largest integrated zinc and lead producer. We have mines in Tasmania and Queensland, and smelters in Tasmania, South Australia, Netherlands and the US. We produce 6 per cent of global zinc metal production and 4 per cent of global lead metal production. Pasminco’s head office is at St Kilda Rd Melbourne. It contains our sales and marketing, finance and services, and other corporate functions.

What is your annual turnover and how many employees do you have in Australia?

Turnover is $2 billion. We have 1900 employees in Australia.

How many end users do you have, and what is your IT budget?

We have 2000 IT users, and the IT budget is more than $2 million.

What are your key applications?

The key corporate applications in Pasminco are the corporate intranet and SAP. We run a single instance of SAP from our Melbourne data centre in Dutch and English and have implemented the finance, HR, payroll, maintenance, projects, logistics, consolidation, sales and distribution modules. We also run process control and mine planning systems at our mines and production information systems at our smelters.

What is your key infrastructure?

Our key hardware is Compaq servers and PCs. We have Cisco networking infrastructure, Windows 2000 and NT4 operating systems.

How long have you worked in IT?

I have worked in IT for 24 years, in the utilities (gas and electricity) and resource sectors. At university I did a science degree majoring in computer science.

How do your business leaders perceive IT?

IT is a pivotal component of Pasminco’s business. It provides a key communication application in the intranet and common corporate systems with sites linked through a WAN. Process control and mine planning systems are essential to the production of concentrates. Production information systems provide key information for the running of our smelters. Unfortunately when budgets get tight, IT can be taken for granted, because it provides a high level of service and availability with few issues.

What area of IT would you like to understand better?

At the moment I am coming to grips with all the elements and resources required to upgrade our SAP system from version 4.6B to Enterprise.

What are your greatest IT challenges?

Pasminco has struggled financially over the last couple of years with record-low metal prices for zinc and lead. This has led to decreasing IT budgets, while requests for additional IT services have increased.

How many IT professionals in your team?

I have a dedicated and motivated IT team with resources located in our head office and onsite at our mines and smelters. We outsource our data centre, help desk, Unix and WAN support to HP and have 26 people in Melbourne office and another 13 out at sites across Australia.

Who do you report to, and who reports to you?

I report to the CFO. I have an SAP team manager, infrastructure manager, and administration assistant, four site IT coordinators, and project managers of larger IT and telecommunications projects who report to me.

What’s been your most difficult IT decision?

On the day I accepted the role of group manger of IT at United Energy I can remember having a discussion at 1am on whether we would go live with the maintenance module in the morning. Unfortunately at that time the development and production environments were both down. We got them both up and went live in the morning.

What areas of IT do you specialise in?

My main areas of specialty include managing IT teams in large organisations, SAP implementation and ongoing support, strategic planning and project management.

What has been the most exciting IT project or implementation you have been involved in?

The most exiting and satisfying project that I have worked on was the development and implementation of an IT strategy for United Energy. This incorporated the development of a new infrastructure and the replacement of all core mainframe legacy applications.

What are the most pressing IT issues?

Doing more with less, keeping staff interested, challenged and skill levels up to date when money is tight; demonstrating ROI on infrastructure refresh projects, and upgrading ERP systems.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at work?

I had been working long hours on a project and I turned up to work on one day after a number of long days and late nights and found that I’d forgotten to shave and was not wearing a tie.

What is the worst IT disaster you worry about?

I don’t worry about IT disasters; however, the total destruction of our data centre would create some interesting challenges.

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