Q:How did you get into IT?
I have had a few roles in the company starting out as a quality control chemist, moving to R&D in the petrochemical area, then management of the quality assurance department and then moving to HR/IR (work redesign, team development and planning) and was asked to head up the IT dept about five years ago.
Q: What does your current role involve?
Managing a small team of IT professionals, providing IT shared services to three Huntsman businesses via our own team and via our external IT supply partners. Also I am in contact with our international group of companies and ensuring that corporate standards are applied particularly in the security area. The role has close liaison with the business via steering committees to ensure we understand the business needs and the business understands the global and corporate trends and issues.
Q: What projects and issues are you working on?
We have just rolled out a new XP SOE (Windows and Office XP standard operating environment.) to one of the businesses and now working to roll this out to another business. System integration is a significant issue with various legacy systems around and business information being obtained in various ways which can be streamlined. Thin client is being rolled out to our interstate branch offices and we are looking how best to further use this technology. Web applications (HR Kiosk, Help Desk, etc) are being tested. Review of WAN options to reduce costs is underway. Continual development of our security standards via a global security committee.
Q: What's the greatest challenge?
Providing ongoing service whilst dealing with diverse and dynamic issues and keeping to predetermined to budget.
Q: What are your greatest IT challenges?
Keeping up with the moving technology, understanding what makes sense to the company strategically and helping to build a business case. Balancing corporate needs and local business needs.
Q: How many IT professionals in your team?
There are eight IT professionals in the team including a contract manager who maintains relations with our external IT partners Accenture and Hewlett-Parkard that provide significant IT resources.
Q: Who do you report to, and who reports to you?
I report to the regional CFO and the global divisional IT director.
Q: What is the most pressing issue you face as IT manager?
That's making sure the team has the skill sets required to meet the changing business needs and improving productivity so that the team doesn't have a continually growing list of responsibilities and tasks.
Q: What is your annual IT budget?
I have input to four IT budgets but manage $3 million.
Q: Where is your organisation's Australian head office, and how many end users are there?
Head office for Australia is on the industrial site at West Footscray (Vic). There about 350 end users that I am responsible for.
Q: What's your average week like?
Talking to managers about new issues, review meetings with our IT supply partners, discussions with each IT team member, meeting with friendly and wanted IT suppliers and vendors, fending off unwanted, vendor-initiated calls particularly from call centres, reading the daily IT news, corresponding with global IT leaders on various issues, writing minutes to meetings, organising quotes, being an escalation point to unresolved urgent IT issues, initiating meetings to progress projects.
Q: If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?
Have a better screening system that saves me from talking to people that we will not do business with.
Q: What is the most difficult IT decision you have had to make?
There were two. Moving mainframe applications from a traditional mainframe to a server emulating a mainframe to reduce costs and whether to change current IT suppliers at the end of the contract period or improve the contract conditions and services. Happily, both worked out.
Q: What is your company Web strategy?
We leave our corporate IT group to manage the Web strategy. We input to the contents and the functionality requirements.
Q: Name five people, living or not, you would invite for a dinner party and why?
Mozart to get his views on today's music, Wayne Dyer to talk about life, the current Grange wine maker to talk about his work with samples, Ella Fitzgerald to sing a few songs and David Suzuki to talk about where we are going in this world.
Q: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you at work?
May be its my conservative approach, I cannot recall anything that I am embarrassed about.
Q: Do you plan to undertake any additional training courses?
Nothing formal at this stage (unless it is related to security) but keeping abreast of technology via various seminars and discussions with key vendors.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I hope to be doing something different to what I am doing now.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Handyman activities such as small constructions, woodwork etc, theatre, opera, films; collecting wine, listening to classical music or jazz.
Q: What is the worst IT disaster you worry about?
The tape backups don't work, and there is a fire, and our key personnel are not available.
Q: What is your IT prediction for this year?
The pendulum is moving more to centralisation, thinner clients, and IT leadership run by non-IT professionals.