by Divina Paredes

CIO Julia Raue to leave Air New Zealand

Jun 15, 2015
CareersE-commerce ServicesIT Leadership

Julia Raue is leaving Air New Zealand after eight years as CIO.

During that time she and her team implemented a raft of digital, mobile and online strategies that ‘disrupted’ traditional models, which their competitors tried to follow.

“My decision is purely based on a desire to broaden my industry experience,” Raue tells CIO New Zealand.

Raue is staying at Air New Zealand until November and has yet to decide on her next role.

Raue joined Air New Zealand as a contractor in 1999, then progressed to roles including /distribution and Customer Solutions Manager and General Manager Group IT Production. She became CIO in April 2007.

Raue joined the board of Television New Zealand last year and is active in mentoring senior managers in other companies.

In an earlierinterview with CIO New Zealand, she shares two things are key to her group’s success.

First is, the management team believes in technology and what it can deliver. Second, is having a team that can prove time and time again they can deliver and provide good value too.

“We look at banks, hotels, areas like casinos, hotels, universities, department stores, banks, all [industries] collecting money and moving people around,” says Raue.

“We are not stuck on any one industry… We keep a brief on what airlines are doing in a certain technology space. That is important to us but we tend not to follow, we tend to be different.”

Working with the other business units, the ICT team introduced award winning projects like grabaseat, where international deals sell out in minutes, and is now one of the most bookmarked home pages across New Zealand. The ICT team also harnessed RFID technology to cut down queues as customers without baggage can go straight to the gate, or customers can self-tag their bags.

Air New Zealand has consistently been in the top 15 of CIO100,the annual report on the biggest ICT using organisations in New Zealand. The 2015 report says the airline has a 455- strong IT team managing more than 13,000 screens. Their key IS projects this year include the digital workplace; logistics (DORIS), revenue management and mobility.

Next: Julia Raue’s pointers for building a great career, a strong team

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Julia Raue’s pointers for building a great career, a strong team

Know your role. Learn, learn, learn your role, understand the key triggers, the key systems, the key stakeholders, she advises. “If it is a delivery portfolio, I understood firstly the initiatives I am to deliver, the problems they set to solve, the business they will support, what the deliverables are, the milestones and the financials,” she says.

For a production or support role, understand what are the key systems and the core requirements.

Build strong relationships. This applies to both your team members and stakeholders. Raue advises adopting a management style that suits our personality and style.

Identify mentors. They could be because of their business knowledge, their negotiation style, their ability to build and maintain relationship, or build great teams. “Watch and learn from them.” Raue suggests thinking about who is the best in the field for an area and understand what drives them, how they are successful and what you can learn from them.

Build a strong team. She says if you know there are skills you are not strong in, make sure that someone in your team has them.

Always trust your gut. “A good leader makes strong decisions — you are there to remove barriers for them.”

If you are not sure about something, then check and double-check the details, discuss it with other people. If you are still unsure, sleep on it, she says. “There is usually a reason why a decision is difficult.”

Be there for the business. “The best way to understand your business is to spend time in your business,” says Raue. “Sit on the help desk, spend time with the call centre agents and in operations.” At Air New Zealand, members of the executive team work in various areas, including baggage handling, cargo and flight crew duties.

Get regular feedback. It is important for people to know whether they are or are not on track. At the same time, she says, it is important to ask people for feedback. “Don’t guess,” she says. Applying this to a wider context, Raue welcomes feedback from the public on the ICT enabled projects at Air New Zealand. She is unperturbed about negative feedback posted on social networking sites, because this provides an opportunity for change or at least to consider the points raised by the customer.

Take care of your team. Provide training, development and growth opportunities. Once they have these, she says, arm them with the tools they need to get the next job done.

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Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

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