by George Nott

Some advice for the old me from NAB’s CTOO Patrick Wright

Apr 24, 2018

In National Australia Bank’s latest marketing campaign, people are asked to consider the question: “What do you know now, that you wish you’d known 15 years ago?”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course. But when CIO Australia met the bank’s chief technology and operations officer Patrick Wright at the AWS Sydney summitearlier this month, the question was turned back on him. This is what he had to say.

“Personally – my advice would have been to leave JP Morgan sooner,” Wright, who arrived in Australia to work for NAB in April last year, said. “Not because, actually I love the company, I’m a huge Jamie Dimon fan and I love what they’re doing. But I’d been with company too long.”

Wright, originally from the US, started working for JP Morgan in 1991 and spent 17 years there before leaving in 2008 to become chief executive officer of software giant Wincor Nixdorf.

“In the moment I thought I was going to be with that company until I died; I was going to end my life a JP Morgan employee. And actually on leaving the company it’s been the best run of my career. So just going out and exploring and seeing different things I think that would be my advice. Go see the world, my son,” Wright, who joined NAB from Barclaycard where he was global chief operating officer, said.

Although he wasn’t at the bank 15 years ago, Wright said that from a professional perspective all companies could have transformed themselves more quickly, and NAB is no different.

NAB CTOO Patrick Wright. Credit: Peter Ristic

“What I love about this company is it’s not just about being digital, it’s about people. We actually believe that customers will increasingly want connected experiences, be it through phone, digital, through Amazon Alexa, through whatever. That will be something that’s dictated by the customers. We also know that they want human beings that know and understand their personal needs in the moments that matter,” Wright said.

Wright has praise for CEO Andrew Thorburn in being committed to both the technology transformation and having the people “positioned to have that intimate conversation with the customer”.

“So maybe the advice is could you have gone faster on digital and deeper on the customer? Because like all companies it’s never enough,” he said.

“And I don’t think we’ve transformed ourselves fast enough. As always, we could always do better and we can always have a better relationship with our customers. And I think getting that recipe right is a constant struggle for us. But I do think in today’s world you have to get the balance right. You can’t just do one,” Wright added.