5 minutes with . . . Matthew King, Web Manager B2G

Computerworld: As a child, what did you want to be when you 'grew up'?

Matthew King: Nothing specific; I just wanted to get out there and do something interesting. This extended into my twenties where I studied, travelled and worked in two dozen types of jobs. The Internet came along at just the right time in my life. A perfect fit so to speak.

CW: How did you get into IT?

MK: I have used computers since I was a teenager. As I got older I used them initially for graphic design, then as a research tool at university, (back in the days when a 14K modem was fast). So, when I was offered a weekend job at a networking company doing global networking, I grabbed the opportunity. It was a pretty steep learning curve but it opened up many possibilities. Since then I have built a wide range of sites from small to large, worked in online advertising and promotion, built banner ads and campaign-specific micro sites, project managed and have undertaken business analysis.

CW: While you were studying you also spent three years in the Australian Army Reserve. How did that contribute to your Web career?

MK: I joined the University Regiment in second year university as an officer cadet. My family has a strong military tradition and I feel a commitment to public service of this kind is important. I learnt a great deal and the experience put me through mental and physical tests beyond what most experience. I'd have to say that the reserve is not a career nor a hobby; it lies more in the realm of civic duty. As to my current role the linkage is more in what I learnt about management of people and resources.

CW: What duties does your current position involve?

MK: I have two key roles. The first relates to the wider view, which is to advise the board and senior management and to aid in the development of B2G's strategic Internet presence. This task requires a broad understanding of the Internet, IT and business environment. It encompasses both a technical and business approach to the evolution of the aims and goals of the company.

The second role is the deployment of our Internet assets and covers planning, implementation and maintenance of B2G's Internet presence. The aim is to ensure that project implementation is smooth, effective and consistent with agreed processes, plans, budgets and corporate branding.

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

MK: I am developing a project that will be the most advanced electronic court lodgement system in Australia. B2G already has a big interest in legal services through its subsidiary Auscript. This new legal portal will offer a powerful level of functionality for legal professionals, the public and the courts. On a technical level Java and XML open up a number of possibilities. And it is really interesting being involved in setting the standards that the whole industry will use.

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

MK: Time management. Making sure my family life is balanced with work is really critical. It is hard sometimes as the work is really captivating and I have noticed things like routers have a horrible tendency to blow around 3am on a Sunday.

CW: How many IT professionals make up your IT team?

MK: It's rapidly growing as we develop more projects. At the moment, we have a Web developer, chief architect, a network fellow and a number of talented Java programmers. We farm out some work and bring in contractors when required.

CW: What IT courses have you completed, and do you plan to undertake additional training to further boost your career?

MK: None at all. On the job training basically, although I have used computers since I was 15 and have a degree, which in part was focused on technology and information analysis. I first worked as Web designer in 1997 but had a few years at a network company. I am one of the few that have experienced both the technical and business world. I know my way round Photoshop, I am competent in some code and can program a router, but I also have a strong sales ability, and possess confidence in business analysis and development.

I'm likely to continue buying software, books and so on and learning that way. I'd also like to do post graduate work in history some day down the track.

CW: Most pressing issue you face as Web manager?

MK: Change. The Internet evolves with such speed. Keeping in touch with the latest developments involves so much time. Making the time is a constant challenge. And a good excuse to read Computerworld, The Industry Standard, Wired and so on.

CW: Briefly describe your involvement in a number of award winning online campaigns?

MK: Online promotion is really interesting. Some of the campaigns we have worked on have had click through rates as high as 16 per cent. We hosted and helped set up the Sony PlayStation's Ape Escape micro site which won a number of the 1999 Yahoo wwwawards. We also produced copy and creative for 14 out of the 15 Rugby Heaven banner ads that won gold at the 1999 Australian Direct Marketing Awards. Most of our work was for agencies so the glory tends to be directed elsewhere!

On the other side of the fence, for the last two years I have been a judge of the Internet Awards which has helped me focus on improving my own skills too.

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

MK: Mac, Linux, Windows 2000 or NT and the jury is still out.

CW: List three likes and dislikes about your job?

MK: I like: the variety, the constant learning and the challenge.

I dislike the hours, the cold temperature in the server room and the fast speed of a really good network connection, which is very distracting.

CW: What is B2G's Web strategy?

MK: Bring government services onto the Net at no cost to the agency in question, provide the easiest-to-use interface, aggregate complementary services and provide excellent customer service on and off the Web.

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

MK: I have an interest in rich media, wearable computers, history, robotics and systems theory - they might combine into something quite interesting. Sailing a bit more and learning to surf well would also be good. A house with a garden, a dog and some kids would be pretty nice as well.

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