Earlier this year, one of the world’s leading engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services companies, GHD made clear its focus on digital technologies with a refreshed governance structure.
Elizabeth Harper, who had joined the company as CIO in 2010, was elevated to the company’s executive management group, reporting directly to the CEO, following a management restructure earlier this year.
She is the company’s first CIO and the only female on GHD’s executive management team, which meets once a month.
“It is our key decision making forum,” Harper says, “so my presence as CIO means that technology is on the agenda every time.”
Harper oversees a global team of 200 IT professionals who are relied upon to deliver business critical technology to a growing number of engineers, architects, environmental scientists and consultants in 200 offices.
That team has been busy bringing the business and its clients together with its iConnect programme, which involves implementing SharePoint 2013 as the company’s collaboration and application platform, and migrating core business applications from its legacy Lotus Notes platform which comprised eight Lotus Notes databases, separate drive folders, no ability to work seamlessly between regions and a rigid compliance process.
“It is always demanding to take an organisation through a large change,” said Harper. “So we anticipated it would be quite a complex transition.
“Our real objective was to strengthen accountability for project managers with respect to their quality systems and move away from a systemised ‘tick box’ approach to compliance. This was more than a new set of tools and way of working, but a significant upgrade in accountability. Encouraging people to shed a compliance-driven culture to embrace a culture of empowerment and accountability was key.”
GHD’s technology transition has driven a cultural transformation too. It has taken leadership and dedicated stakeholder and employee engagement. Harper’s team produces a quarterly IT newsletter, a monthly security update for the whole organisation and regular face to face meetings.
That means extensive travel between offices for Harper. But as she explains: “You can’t underestimate the importance of high quality relationships on driving high quality business outcomes.”