5 minutes with... Linda Brigance, VP and regional CIO, FedExpress, Asia-Pacific

How did you get into IT?

I became interested in IT at school, and on the guidance of the school counsellor I pursued a career in IT. I’ve always enjoyed logic puzzles and debugging programs were always a fun challenge.

What does your current role involve?

At FedEx my role covers all the IT support and development for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. This includes the FedEx APAC data centre in Singapore as well as the network infrastructure. This allows me to work closely with our business groups in supporting our customers in Asia.

What projects are you working on now?

FedEx has always been a pioneer in the development of new technologies and e-commerce tools to help our customers. Our enterprise-customer relationship management project is in progress and rolling out in Asia to once again raise the bar of customer service in the transportation industry. We also have the PowerPad Courier tool being deployed this year and the digital airbill using the Anoto technology, which will further enhance our real-time tracking and proof-of-delivery capabilities.

What is most challenging in your job?

Being a part of a global team brings in additional challenges that country-specific or region-specific teams don’t face. Ensuring our solutions plug and play seamlessly with applications developed in the US can be challenging. FedEx has a world class IT team, which is consistently developing, testing and deploying leading-edge technologies. In APAC we leverage our global resources and applications successfully to improve service to our customers.

What are your greatest IT challenges?

Developing speed to the market solutions that meet the needs of our customers is the greatest challenge for FedEx, and projects such as PowerPad and Anoto technology are great examples of how FedEx continues to set new standards in addressing that challenge.

How many IT professionals in your team?

We have 246 IT professionals supporting the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to our employees, we also leverage contractors to allow for the increase or decrease of projects.

Who do you report to; who reports to you?

I report to the president for the Asia-Pacific region. There are 11 VPs reporting to the APAC president to support the various functions of the business. I have four managing directors in Asia that are responsible for network/infrastructure, technology support and customer technology, internal software development solutions, and external software development solutions.

What is the most pressing issue you face?

Speed to market of applications for our customers. As an IT team, we need to ensure we are close enough to our customers and business groups to enable us to understand and anticipate their changing business. Then we need to be able to deploy solutions quickly to meet those needs.

What’s your estimated annual IT budget?

We don’t report out the regional budget but as a company, we spend about $US1.3 billion a year on IT.

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

Australia is a part of our South Pacific (SPAC) office with its headquarters in Singapore. Our Australasian headquarters is based in Sydney. The managing director for Australia and New Zealand is Harry West and we have 520 employees supporting Australia and NZ.

What’s your average week like?

One of the best parts of the job is the variety that is involved. It doesn’t seem like any week is like another week. The part of the job that remains constant is the meetings and e-mails. It’s hard to imagine what we did before e-mail.

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

The hours... When you work in a multinational there are a lot of late night conference calls to be able to get everyone on from all the regions (Europe, Asia, and North America).

What is your company Web strategy?

FedEx is a leader in Web-based strategies. In fact, FedEx was the first company in our industry to offer Web-based solutions and online track-and-trace for our customers. Our strategy is to provide useful and easy-to-use applications for our customers. We know we can’t stop there and as customers evolve and embrace the Internet, we need to continue offering more applications for them to use.

What is the worst IT disaster you worry about?

There are two related areas that concern me the most — the first is Security with so many new viruses and worms that continue to surface. The other is the vulnerability of the Internet since we continue to move more solutions and applications to the Internet.

What is your IT prediction for this year?

I’m going to leave the predictions for the gurus. I can elaborate on areas we will be focusing on in the near future though. We will continue to invest in our customer-facing applications and we’ll invest more in securing our network and moving more towards wireless applications.

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