CIO of West Australian-based mining and rail company Calibre Global, Jason Cowie, began his CIO career in Western Australia some 15 years ago with stints at McMahon Holdings and Cape Australia Holdings before joining Calibre in August 2011.
He prides himself on his approach to attracting and retaining staff to the company, providing them with incentives and plenty of team-building activities.
He spoke to CIO Australia about some of the major challenges he faces in his role.
What does an average work day involve for you?
Always start by checking my emails from overnight and then assigning the five tasks from my task list that I want to hit for the day.
I get into the office around 7-7:30am to review any signing and then touch base with my direct reports to see how they are going with their actions assigned from the Monday team meeting.
My team has four divisions so I try and split my mornings (Mon – Thu) to a division to provide feedback, work on projects or meet with vendors that are related to their division during the mornings. Afternoons are dedicated to meetings with business personnel and reviewing requests and working on strategic projects.
Fridays are always dedicated to strategic updates, reviewing performance and finalising the week’s performance.
I leave the office around 6:30pm, have dinner and then answer/respond to all emails that came in during the day.
Typically I review emails in detail only in the morning and evening, leaving the day dedicated to support staff, project work and business meetings.
What are some of the major challenges you face in the role of CIO?
I am new to the role and currently rebuilding the team to an enterprise level, which includes restarting an ERP project and building the strategy for the next three years with a company that is on high growth.
Therefore the main challenges are: time management – ensuring I allocate my time correctly across the projects, my staff and the business. Doing the work with no issues, ensuring the correct allocation and priority so all key items progress can be tricky which is why I focus on an up to date task list.
The other main challenge is cutting out the noise – whether it be cold calling from vendors or operational issues that need to be dealt with quickly.
I’m handling the vendors by aligning with Tier 1 vendors under partnering agreements and the operational issues by building a customer service culture and empowering direct reports to make the decisions based on our framework.
What are some of the recent projects you have been working on?
The enterprise CIS team – rebuilding the team from the ground up with an enterprise team culture and ITIL operation.
The Calibre Cloud – our infrastructure strategic initiative to move to a private cloud with core services managed by Telstra Microsoft
Our E-One project – our revamped ERP project for the group.
What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?
Ensuring the team profile and role within the business and being seen as value adding or enabling rather than a service.
IT budgets. Ensuring you get enough money to provide the initiatives while adding a return.
Consumerisation and the impact of staff wanting more freedom around their work environment and IT creating the right balance.
The iPhone, but I’m looking forward to the new Windows 8 tablet.
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