Sally Herman, general manager e-business, Westpac

What were your childhood ambitions?
To work in the travel industry and be an expert snow skier.What was your first job?
My very first job was when I was at school -- I worked on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings at Grace Bros, in the Sydney suburb of Bondi Junction.How did you get into IT?
Two years ago I was offered my current job as general manager, e-business and this was my first direct involvement in the IT industry. Before that I had spent most of my career in corporate banking and investment banking.What does your current position involve?
I am responsible for formulating the strategy for Westpac's online activities and then executing the initiatives to deliver against this strategy. This involves managing the online channel for our personal, business and wholesale customers, delivering appropriate online products and services, and ensuring that our customers' needs are met online.What projects and issues are you working on now?
Our key focus is on maintaining and growing our infrastructure to support an increasing number of customers, and providing more functionality to our customers, particularly in the small- to medium sized enterprise market.What is the most challenging part of your job?
The fact that the technology is changing so rapidly, and that customers are demanding more and more features.How many IT professionals in your team?Many of my staff have an IT background, but the actual IT support is provided by a separate team which reports to our CIO, and also by IBM GSA.What is the most pressing issue you face as general manager e-business?
Balancing the requirements of all our key stakeholders, such as customers, staff and shareholders.Briefly describe your average week.
About 30 per cent of my week is spent with my direct reports, about 25 per cent with my boss and my Westpac peers who run our customer and product businesses to ensure that we are working in lockstep with them, about 20 per cent in project review meetings, about 15 per cent on business strategy and the balance with vendors, consultants and others.If you could walk in the shoes of any other IT professional, who would it be and why?
John Chambers from Cisco, because he had a vision to change the way people used the Internet, and in four years he has made an enormous impact.What is your favourite IT gadget and why?I couldn't live without my PDA as it basically contains everything I need for my professional and personal life to run smoothly.If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?
I'd like more time in the week to read and think about the challenges and opportunities for my business.What is the most difficult IT decision you have had to make?I make the business decisions, and our CIO makes the IT decisions to support me, so in that way the decisions are easier because they are shared.List three likes and dislikes about your job: I only have one dislike and that is not having enough hours in the day!

I love being in an environment that is so dynamic and so firmly in the minds of our customers as the new way they want to interact with the bank.What is Westpac's Web strategy?
Our Web strategy is to deliver a superior online experience to our customers, staff and shareholders using a combination of in-house developments and third-party solutions which support our overall IT architecture.What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at work?
Small embarrassing things happen to me all the time, and I hope that I have a strong enough sense of humour to laugh them off quickly! Probably the most embarrassing thing was when I went to the US specifically to do a presentation to a group of investors and left the bag with the presentation on the airport carousel. Luckily I discovered this an hour and a half before the presentation, so was able to make the dash back to the airport in time.Do you plan to undertake any additional training courses?
In leadership and influencing -- one of the key benefits of working in e-business is that you have to get results through influencing others.What is the worst IT disaster you worry about?
Our Internet banking site not being available.Name five people, living or not, you would invite for a dinner party and why?Emmeline Pankhurst, because the fight she fought over a century ago for equal rights still has currency in the debate about refugees. Bill Clinton; who wouldn't want a previous leader of the free world at a dinner party? William Shakespeare; needs no explanation! Peter Singer; he would challenge whether all of us lead an ethical life or not. Aung San Suu Kyi; her quiet determination would be a lesson to all in never giving up on what you believe in.Where do you see yourself in five years time?
In Australia, and in a challenging, stimulating job and with a happy, well-adjusted eight-year-old child.What would you do if you could rule the world for one week?
Get better advice than the current leaders seem to get and try to put it into practice.What do you like to do in your spare time?Spend time with my child, run, read, see friends.What is your ideal holiday location:Generally anywhere where a mobile phone doesn't work, but specifically the ski fields in the US or the Amalfi coast in Italy.What is your IT prediction for this year?
I predict that PDA usage will double and the price will fall by at least 25 per cent.

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