“Our overarching and primary goal has been to grow our relevance in supporting NZ businesses, to help them digitally transform their business models and leverage the latest technologies that are available both now and into the future,” says Julie Canepa, CIO for Australia and New Zealand at Cisco.
Over the past 12 months, Canepa has led and held numerous one-on-one customer engagements with New Zealand customers.
She has also invited them to tour the new ANZ headquarters of Cisco.
“We are committed to working closely with the industry and partnering with peers, which is a prime avenue for sharing best practices, learnings, practical implementation knowledge, to help these businesses with their own transformations.”
She has sponsored numerous wellbeing initiatives for Cisco NZ employees. “We completed infrastructure upgrades in Wellington and Auckland to improve user experience, promote connected working and improve collaboration,” she says.
She participated in the Cisco Connect in New Zealand, talking to about 400 customers about security in the digital era.
Canepa sponsored and hosted the first ever Cisco IT Day in Auckland and Wellington to share Cisco IT learnings with NZ customers.
“These special sessions focused on digital transformation, security, collaboration and data centre infrastructure and were well received, with the program recording a 4.6/5.0 satisfaction rating with the audience.”
Canepa has sponsored and led an IT management programme, which was specifically developed for IT leaders in ANZ, to help them with digital transformation and to further their careers.
This is now a key programme at the annual Cisco Live in Melbourne.
“All our content was developed and selected by the Cisco IT Team (‘IT for IT’).
The Three Es
As well as technology and tact, an important ingredient in the company’s success over the past year has been positivity and passion for innovation, much of it coming from Canepa herself.
Driving her approach is what she calls the ‘Three E’s’: exposure, experience and education.
“I create Exposure opportunities for the team by connecting them with global efforts, creating visibility with senior staff, rewarding outstanding achievements, and exposure to new areas of the business. I drive Experience opportunities for the team by encouraging employees to take on stretch assignments outside their typical domain, and to get involved with new, cross-functional projects.
It has had a measurable effect, with the team’s employee satisfaction levels higher than ever before and among the highest in the company.
Canepa is an inspiration to those inside and outside the business. She mentors three women at Cisco, started an internship program which has run the last two years.
“I am concerned with the lack of women in technology,” says Canepa, on another key issues facing the sector.
Canepa participates in the Cisco Connected Women, an internal group focused on providing support to female employees, and the Empowered Women’s Network, a programme for Cisco customers.
“For the first time, we will be including a New Zealand school in our Boys and Girls in Technology program, which is a STEM program led by my team that encourages boys and girls to get involved and interested in IT careers.”
“The lesson I have learnt is that the role of the IT leader is changing,” says Canepa.
“Delivering IT in our era is going to be more about partnerships than ever before, as all companies become digital, and as technology becomes an integral part of every aspect of business and our lives.”
She says there are four key partnerships IT leaders need to focus on:
IT and business: “IT needs to work alongside business closer than we ever have had to before. This requires a new level of understanding/maturity amongst our teams. It is not good enough to work on something if we don’t understand WHY we are doing what we do, and if we cannot connect it to an outcome. The best innovations will be unsuccessful if we fail to understand how the technology connects to the human aspects of the change we are trying to drive. IT and business must do this together.”
IT and vendors: “IT leaders need to partner with vendors across industry in new ways to drive innovation (this includes competitors partners we may not have traditionally worked with before). We all want to bring the best in breed solutions to our employees. Using interoperable platforms (Open standards, APIs) we should be able to achieve this by layering and connecting platforms to create solutions. It’s no longer just about products, and one vendor will not solve everything. That needs to be ok.”
IT technical teams: “The IT technical community needs to consider the DevOps ecosystem. IT to IT Partnering with technologists around the world allows us to, reuse innovations and achieve more, quicker.”
IT leaders: “IT leaders need to partner and learn from one another. We are the first generation to witness the second generation of the internet and the Internet of Things. As we move to automation, AI we have a lot to learn from one another, and a lot to gain through industry partnerships.”