5 minutes with... Dave Thomas, Chandler Macleod Group

Q: What were your childhood ambitions?

To be an RAF helicopter pilot, but my eyesight let me down. I quickly swapped onto my second ambition of being a programmer.

Q: What was your first job?

Working in a local pub (The Radyr Arms) from the age of 14, doing anything from cleaning glasses to cellar work. I loved the fact I had more disposable cash than my schoolmates. It gave me a great sense of independence.

Q: How did you get into IT?

My parents encouraged my computer dreams from my earliest memories. They bought my first computer, a Sharp MZ-80K, which I still have - even though it is a museum piece. My Dad used his contacts to get me a holiday job as a computer operator at Cardiff City Council and after university I walked straight into a job managing a five-person development team.

Q: What does your current position involve?

It covers all aspects of IS and Telecoms. We have an IS operations team that handles the running of our technology, ensuring it is reliable and that staff are trained. Training is a key issue for me - technology without training is just a set of boxes in the corner.

Q: What projects and issues are you working on at the moment?

We always have a large list of projects approved and ready for implementation, but the key ones on the go at the moment include the merger of our latest acquisition, both infrastructure and personnel; a large data warehouse project; to Web enable our core business system. There is also a project to reinvent the IT department as a total IS solution provider.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Chandler Macleod Group is a full-service, human capital solution provider and the phenomenal growth over the past couple of years has provided a constant challenge - every day the IS team needs to be ready to react to the latest acquisition. For example I was informed one morning of a company that was looking to sell out to Chandler Macleod Group and within four hours the deal had been done and within seven days the entire infrastructure had been absorbed.

Q: How many IT professionals in your team?

We have a team of 13 supporting 40 locations and about 460 users across Australia and New Zealand, covering support desk, projects, telecomms and IS administration.

Q: What is the most pressing issue you face as CIO?

The constant pressure from customers to upgrade technology. Chandler Macleod Group becomes an integral part of our customers' business and we sometimes have to follow their technology path in order that our joint business processes continue to work. For instance, a client recently went through a large Lotus Notes upgrade and as a result we had to upgrade a number of machines beyond our normal purchasing policy.

Q: What is an estimate of your annual IT budget?

About $5.4 million.

Q: Where is your organisation's Australian head office, and how many end users are there?

We are headquartered in North Sydney where we have about 100 end users. The head office is split into corporate as well as operations so we get a lot of exposure to the staff that are on the front line dealing with customers each day.

Q: Briefly describe your average week.

There is no such thing as an average week in this organisation, but when you accept that as normal it would be split somewhat like this: 40 per cent in prearranged supplier and staff meetings, 20 per cent in planning the continued evolution of the IS department, 20 per cent reacting to emergencies and damage limitation and 20 per cent on e-mails.

Q: What is your company Web strategy?

To Web-enable as many points of interaction with our clients (both customers and contractors) as possible. Although we have a full-service offering that doesn't require customers to be computerised, there are customers that prefer a Web-based, self-service approach and we cater for this.

Q: What is your favourite IT gadget and why?

It has to be my Palm. Having so many meetings on so many subjects it would be easy to become disorganised. My Palm was stolen about a year ago and I was at a loss until the culprit was apprehended (thank God for video surveillance) and I got it back.

Q: What is the most difficult IT decision you have had to make?

Any sort of decision that affects peoples' lives is difficult and regardless of the fact you tell yourself, "It's not personal, it's business", I still like to consider the person. I once had to let a friend go, but luckily our friendship survived.

Q: List three likes and dislikes about your job:

Likes: I have total control, the variety and the people. Dislikes: people who don't learn and users that think they are "special" and want the systems adapted just for themselves without considering the impact on the other 400 users.

Q: Name five people, living or not, you would invite for a dinner party and why?

Excluding family and friends who obviously come first but are mostly are on the other side of the world, it would be Jimi Hendrix, so I can brush up on my guitar skills; Kylie Minogue - a long standing crush; Charlotte, my partner who is always there for me; Murray Walker - to get an insight to the many experiences he's had in so many countries and Homer Simpson, because some say I've modelled my life on Homer, but it's not true, mostly.

Q: What IT disasters do you worry about?

I don't worry about any IT disaster any more - we've had a massive drive on building redundancy into our systems and I know we can react to any disaster within set timeframes.

Q: What would you do if you could rule the world for one week?

I would pass a law enforcing Microsoft to work for the good of the world.

Q: What is your IT prediction for this year?

The new Microsoft licensing plan will come back to haunt it; its spin doctors will make it seem successful, but prices will drop and more flexible options will be introduced.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about MicrosoftUpgrade Technology

Show Comments