5 minutes with.... Suzanne Kerslake, director, technology and services delivery, Manpower Services Australia

Q: What were your childhood ambitions?

I always wanted to be a nurse, I am so glad that it did not turn out this way, as I have matured I realised that this would have been a totally wrong choice. My strengths are in organisation and management and I would have probably lacked the necessary patience.

Q: What was your first job?

Typist in the claims section of Dalgety New Zealand loans. I lasted for six weeks.

Q: How did you get into IT?

By accident! I was involved in the development of software and then a network rollout and loved it! From then on there was no looking back. Over the years I have been involved in the rollout of the first wide area network for Manpower, part of an international development and deployment team for its core applications through to my current role as director for technology and service delivery.

Q: What does your current position involve?

Member of the board, managing major projects, software development, all IT&T, outsourced relationships, quality initiatives, sales support, research and meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings.

Q: What projects and issues are you working on now?

Well, where do I begin? There’s the rollout of a new national network for Defence Force Recruiting; actively involved in the version of the custom software “PowerForce” for the same project; also refresh programs for the main network, international development participation, contract negotiations, budgets, rollout of B2B solutions for several clients, right down to installations of time clocks and management reporting.

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

Juggling the above, trying to stay focused on the issue at hand. Constantly swapping topics.

Q: How many IT professionals in your team?

Give or take a few, there are 20.

Q: To whom do you report, and who reports to you?

I report to Malcolm Jackman, the CEO. The best group of IT professionals in the business!

Q: What is the most pressing issue you face as director, technology and service delivery?

Keeping up with changing and emerging technologies and how can I use this in the business?

Q: What’s an estimate of your IT budget?

Whatever it is, it is never enough!

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

The head office is in Hunter Street, in central Sydney and there are currently about 900 seats. That’s about to expand dramatically by an additional 700 seats with the Defence network.

Q: Briefly describe your average week:

Where to I start? Say 7 to 7.30 each morning to say about 6 to 7 at night, back-to-back meetings, loads of problem solving, lots of “what happened to...Can we do xxx by Thursday?” the client wants...., the server has just...the ups in the helpdesk have” Should I say more?

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

I would like Bill Gates’ money, but not necessarily his shoes.

Q: What is your favourite IT gadget and why?

Believe it or not, I am not into gadgets. No boffins here. Not enough time.

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

Hmmmmm.... that is a hard one, my job changes every day, every week and every year.

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

The trouble is, you never really know until you buy and try. Making IT decisions is a minefield at the best of times. We base our decisions on good research, not always taking things on face value. Probably the toughest decision we will need to make is in the future when we look at the technologies that will be deployed for our infrastructure refresh hopefully toward the end of 2003.

Q: List three likes and dislikes about your job?

Like people, like knowledge and technology (especially when it works), like innovation; in fact these are our global values. You know, there’s not much that I don’t like.

Q: What is Manpower’s Web strategy?

To have a Web presence for every Manpower country worldwide, develop B2E and B2B solutions that support our and our clients’ business strategies.

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

Princess Diana to find out what really happened; John Edwards the clairvoyant in case she is busy; Malcolm Jackman, because I know that he will keep them entertained; Leonardo Da Vinci to capture the moment and discuss IT strategy; Bill Gates to make sure I get on the inside track of the latest Microsoft licensing. Should make an interesting party. Malcolm has to bring the wine.

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

I refuse to answer on account it might incriminate me.

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

Give every IT manager the budget they want!!

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Finished some major projects over the next two years then hopefully the opportunity to be involved more in the international development opportunities within Manpower for internal and external offerings.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Sit back, relax, glass of wine, good music, fine food.

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

Loosing our WAN backbone.

Q: What is your IT prediction for the next 12 months?

No startling new initiatives, maturing of current technology offerings, voice over IP and wireless, decline of the client/server solution.

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