Wanted: bank IT chief with business skills

One of banking's plum IT jobs is up for grabs. The ASB is looking for a general manager of technology and operations.

One of banking’s plum IT jobs is up for grabs.

The ASB is looking for a general manager of technology and operations after incumbent Garry Fissenden announced he was to be managing director of online marketplace SupplyNet.

Fissenden, who leaves on December 1, says with 350 staff to look after, it's a high-pressure role. “The job is very broad, very strategic.”

The remuneration, then, is presumably generous? The ASB is not about to say: Fissenden's salary is a secret between him and the bank's finance head, but "it's a good one", according to Fissenden's secretary.

Fissenden has been at the bank for 10 years, four in his current role. His predecessors include Neville Brown, who went on to head IT at The Warehouse. Before Brown the incumbent was Ralph Norris, today the bank's chief executive.

Fissenden says the post is divided into three areas.

“First, there is delivery of technology. I am the boss of all the developers, the guys who run the boxes, security, buying kit. That’s the traditional IT,” he says.

“I also deal with the electronic banking service, net banking, e-commerce strategy, ATMs, electronic eftpos. The main part is the internet PC banking site with 40 staff.

“Then there is the back office area, the operations bit which does the cheque processing, bank admin, mail delivery, quality checking, archives and records, “ Fissenden says.

Another part of the role is talking to the press and public on IT issues.

Fissenden is proud to have brought in internet banking at the ASB, saying its launch in 1997 was two years ahead of rival banks.

“That’s the most exciting thing because it has changed things the most. That is also why it is also the most difficult thing we’ve done.”

Other landmarks in his four years include replacing the bank infrastructure from the data network, teller applications to the hardware, at a cost of $10 million.

“We had CTOS, a Unisys proprietary operating system. Now we have NT4 Dell servers, Dell PCs and a TCP/IP network,” he says.

“Y2K was a big project. In the end it was a non-event because people did so much preparation work. We spent 18 months on that and delivered it without any issue.”

Fissenden says the ASB will be looking for a replacement with top business skills, saying the last two people in the job have known business before technology.

The job is often a stepping stone to better things, he says.

“We are working with one of the best organisations in New Zealand, with one of the best profiles in New Zealand,” he says.

As for advice for any successor, he adds: “I’ll keep it to myself.”

ASB operations chief Hugh Burret says the post “should have a great deal of appeal".

"It’s a great opportunity for someone,” he says.

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