by Jennifer O'Brien

Former Cuscal CIO reveals ‘highs and lows’ of transformation journey

Mar 01, 2018
Collaboration SoftwareDigital TransformationRisk Management

Hemant Kogekar is leaving the CIO role at Cuscal in a “good place” after transforming the IT and business landscape over the past two years and making major inroads delivering a complex new payments platform.

“I joined to transform Cuscal technology. The technology leadership team is stronger. The team has delivered Apple Pay to over 40 banks and are on track to deliver the new real time payments platform for 30 plus banks,” Kogekar said when initially announcing his resignation.

Cuscal, an Australian provider of end-to-end payments solutions, helps clients from a range of industries (including financial services, airlines, fintech and retail) make payments for their customers. It processes eight per cent of Australia’s EFT transactions, has over 7.5 million cards under management, and switch and acquire for around 35 per cent of Australia’s ATMs.

Kogekar, who’s moving back into the world of consulting (a job he did for 11 years prior to joining Cuscal), said the company has named Colin Mapp as his replacement.

Mapp was formerly the head of IT service delivery at Cuscal and has held a range of service and cyber roles at major banks including Commonwealth and NAB. He will be responsible for all of the service and project delivery.

Kogekar told CIO Australiahe’s proud of his achievements at Cuscal over the past two years. Prior to joining Cuscal, he consulted to the company on strategic and business transformation issues.

“I am looking forward to returning to consulting, but at the same time sad to be leaving the CIO role at Cuscal. My time at Cuscal has been exciting. Our team delivered the new payments program, as well as market leading pays – ApplePay, GooglePay, SamsungPay – to 30 plus banks.

“These innovations are helping smaller banks to compete with the majors. Now, I am looking forward to helping others to deliver better results from their technology investments.”

Back on track

Looking back, Kogekar said there were a number of business and management issues when he first joined Cuscal.

“Our project delivery was not predictable,” he said, explaining the company has more than 100 clients (including banks and non-banks).

“I looked at various aspects and looked at where the organisational capability was right or not – and there were some challenges. Some of the technical leaders were not good leaders and were making change difficult. So one of the areas I looked at was in getting the right managers in the right places.”

Additionally, the way in which the company was collaborating with business was “fractional” and needed reviewed, he said, explaining the problem was occurring at the account manager and product manager level, both working at the front-end project work.

“If you don’t have that right at the beginning, then it creates challenges all along the path. So I improved the collaboration at that front-end process,” he said.

At the same time, he said the company needed to give staff an appropriate and realistic amount of time to gather data and make project recommendations.

“We were making promises very early in the cycle of the project, without actually doing a sufficient degree of homework. So we changed our internal processes to align with the proper timings on various things so we could go through phases like data findings, proposal findings, and then final project findings. It was aligning them with what the reality was.”

As a result, internal capability and business capability are now much stronger. Essentially, Kogekar helped transform the Cuscal tech capability with a new strategy, and was able to establish foundations for speedy digital delivery using agile methods and tools.

“We’ve got some of the foundations in terms of the digital journey in place – particularly in terms of continuous delivery practices and continuous automation. Some of them are in early stages, but they are being embedded and rolling out.”

Asked about his next move, Kogekar said he’ll act as a trusted adviser to boards, CEOs and CIOs about strategic/transformation projects. He will do independent program reviews as well as consult on technology strategy, helping c-level executives resolve complex IT management challenges.

With over 20 years’ experience as a c-level IT executive in Australian companies including Suncorp, Citibank and Franklins, Kogekar said he’s seen it all in terms of rescuing major projects that have gone off-track.

“Often I find the issues are more to do with organisational alignment and project manager capability, which are more challenging and causes the project to go backwards.”