5 minutes with ... Diana Brown, manager business innovation, Superpartners.

Q: What were your childhood ambitions?

To be a vet!

Q: What was your first job?

Working as a graduate trainee at Air New Zealand.

Q: How did you get into IT?

I joined IBM in the 80s, and benefited from the tremendous training program. It involved six months training including classroom learning, mentoring, and experience in technical and sales activities. This turned out to be the start of an interesting career in IT, with roles in vendor organisations, software development organisations, consulting companies and corporates.

Q: If not for IT, what career would you be in right now?

I was always interested in being a vet, but studied as a psychologist. So, I guess it would be either, or something along the continuum.

Q: What does your current position involve?

Called manager, business innovation, I am responsible for business change and IT.

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

Many and varied!

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

It's always the people, facilitating the development of high performance teams and marvelling at the progress.

Q: How many IT professionals make up your team?

We currently have over 100 in the team. They are an interesting team, and reflect the changes that the company has gone through over the last few years. There are staff who have been with the organisation for years, others who joined us through an outsourcing arrangement with EDS, and others who have joined more recently. Together, they make a formidable team with a range of experience and talent.

Q: What is the most pressing issue you face as a manager of IT?

Balancing the value of what we deliver as a team, with the cost. Additionally, I work closely with the Superpartners executive team, ensuring that we contribute to the strategic direction of the company through delivering value. This is always a challenge.

Q: Briefly describe your average week.

Is any week average? But I typically have a lot of interaction with my executive colleagues, as well as work with the team on short- and long-term strategic and tactical issues. Superpartners is a fast paced, challenging organisation which means that each week brings new organisational discussion.

Q: If you could walk in the shoes of any other IT professional, who would it be and why?

Bill Gates, because he is really smart.

Q: Who do you most admire and why?

Bill Gates. He is not only extremely smart, he is also prepared to acknowledge that maybe he hasn't got it quite right and is prepared to reconsider and change. In addition, he is prepared to give away a portion of the financial reward. Philanthropy seems to be missed by a lot of very successful and affluent people, and this balance in perspective gives good reason for inspiration.

Q: What is your favourite IT gadget and why?

My laptop (if that can be called a gadget), because it has everything I need on one machine!

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?

I would like more hours in the day, because every now and then, there are other things I like to do!

Q: As a woman, how hard has it been to succeed in an industry mostly dominated by men?

It is all relative. My view is that everything is outcome-focused and I have always found that if significant achievement has been achieved, then recognition and opportunity seems to follow. People talk about the male dominated industry, and I have watched various initiatives to increase the number of women studying IT as well as affirmative action. At the end of the day, it is a very demanding industry.

Q: List three likes and dislikes about your job:

Like the company, the challenges and the people. Dislikes - well, that's a lot harder!

Q: What is your company Web strategy?

E-commerce is a really great strategy, as long as you don't want to speak to anyone! So we offer the facilities to do either, and it works well.

Q: What is the worst IT disaster you worry about?

Just not delivering.

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

The decision as to when a development has to be stopped - as it is not going to meet the company objectives. The most difficult one occurred a number of years ago, but it doesn't get easier remembering it over time.

Q: How do you keep in sync with the latest technology developments?

This a real challenge. I try to get to the annual Gartner events. This gives a pretty good wrap of what is going on, as well as a comparative view.

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

Family and friends, because they are wonderful, even if they are not famous.

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

Do I really have to answer that?

Q: Do you plan to undertake any additional training courses?

If time permits, there are a number of things I would like to do. I suspect that experience makes a big difference too, so I hope that the challenges keep coming.

Q: If you could invent something, what would it be and why?

Invent a way of making more time available in the day - only if the option is chosen of course. Don't know whether this could be a day with longer than 24 hours, or more minutes in an hour. Or alternatively to slow the passing of time, so that more can get done.

Q: What is your IT prediction for this year?

We are all focused on outcomes delivering solid results.

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