Sir Ralph Norris was presented with the inaugural CIO Lifetime Contribution Award for his significant contribution to the information technology sector at a private ceremony in Auckland last night.
Nominated by a select committee of industry peers, the award acknowledges his influence in paving the way for the recognition of strategic importance of the CIO role; delivering growth and innovation through the proper use of technology in today’s competitive marketplace.
One of the handful of CIOs who have reached the top role in business enterprise Sir Ralph also pioneered a career model for information technology professionals to succeed beyond the sector.
Trained as a computer programmer at ASB in 1969, his second job, he held several roles in the bank’s IT operations. Appointed Chief Information Officer in 1986 followed by CEO and Managing Director in 1991 he also headed CBA (of which ASB is a subsidiary) from 1999 and was instrumental in the launch of BankDirect, the first online bank in New Zealand.
In 2002 he accepted the top job at Air New Zealand, helping rescue it from near-collapse until his appointment as CEO and managing director of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) in 2005 and retirement six years later.
The former computer programmer and techie at heart Norris once claimed in an interview one of his most rewarding moments was creating a basic maths programme to excite his son about his homework.
Since retiring last year he has agreed to join the board of Fonterra, and Origin Energy in Australia but is not seeking any more directorships at this stage, preferring to devote his time to family.