Russell Jones, head of group technology at ASB, is forthright about the learning curve he faces, following his move to finance after decades of working in the manufacturing sector.
“I thought IT had the monopoly on three-letter acronyms, but financial services is right up there. Everyone refers to system names with three-letter acronyms and you’ve just got to learn them, there’s no shortcut through that,” says Jones, who moved back to New Zealand after five years at International Paper in Tennessee; and before that, at Carter Holt Harvey, where he was chief of information technology.
Interviewed for this month’s cover story in CIO New Zealand magazine, Jones says he was head-hunted for the job. “Initially, I thought, ‘Manufacturing to banking? There’s no way it’s going to happen.’ But it was a very interesting and thorough interview process and at the end of the day it worked out. I’m very pleased it has.”
Having to find his feet in a markedly different field would seem daunting to most, but Jones says he has the advantage of perspective over a CIO who has always worked in banking.
At the same time, he does not underestimate the challenges facing him.
Jones acknowledges that Kiwisaver is a big initiative for the ASB, but says his people have stepped up to meet the challenge.
“Our team has done a fantastic job meeting very tight deadlines with some changing requirements, as the Kiwisaver process has evolved and as the legislation has been changed and modified.”
He says he also visits the C:Drive facility as much as he can. C:Drive is ASB’s development centre in the Auckland suburb of Albany; a $20 million multi-use facility that was completed in 2002. Jones also intends to spend time at Sovereign House, which has nearly 800 staff and is the latest landmark building to open at the Smales Farm Technology Office Park in Auckland’s North Shore City.
• For the full article, read August’s issue of CIO magazine