Andrew Goodin says his biggest career lesson is, and continues to be, “how little I really know’ in the fast paced world of information technology, as we all acknowledge the pace of change is both exciting and daunting.
“The reality is that there are so many intelligent, smart and engaged people to learn from and to make a positive contribution to your career,” says Andrew, who has been global manager information services at Zespri for more than five years now.
“I have learnt to listen, ask good questions, engage with empathy and continue to be curious. There is still so much to learn and do – this gets me up in the morning, excited, and ready to accept the next opportunity.”
This next opportunity came in at the start of the year when Goodin was asked to step up as acting chief digital officer.
It is a role that complements the recent projects he and his team have completed.
One of these is the programme that supports the strategic theme of Building Insight Capability through the implementation of a fit for purpose analytics platform. The platform combines SAP’s data services software with Microsoft’s Azure SQL DW.
“This combination of products has put Zespri at the front of the global pack for delivery of this solution and provides a solution that is flexible and efficient, and aims to deliver increased business value through improved decision making capability and the opportunity to leverage foresight (predictive analytics and AI), he says.
He says the result is a future focused business platform to provide improved data quality and insights from which to derive improved business decisions.
This technology platform provides Zespri with the ability to scale as our business grows and take advantage of new technologies capabilities, such as advanced analytics, as they arise, he says.
“This was a global project and gaining engagement from broader stakeholder groups was challenging. We overcame this through global workshops and meetings to articulate the analytics vision, position the roadmap, showcase capability and listen to feedback,” says Goodin.
AI innovations ahead
Last year, Zespri participated in a hackathon that was built around Microsoft cognitive services. A team from Zespri (IT and business), Datacom and Microsoft collaborated to work on an identified business problem.
“This led to the development of a prototype bot for our finance team using the Microsoft BOT framework, translate, LUIS, QnA maker, Azure search, and image recognition that we are working to bring to full production.
“For Zespri this is our first foray into cognitive services and the use of hackfests. The opportunity to deliver improved process efficiency will save around 3300 hours for this one financial scenario and will be extremely valuable,” he says.
He says the main challenge faced was developing a clear understanding of the business problem and opportunity.
“Working closely with our business colleagues we used the ‘Design a better business’ double loop approach and templates to clearly articulate the problem statement and understand how we could make a difference in resolving the business problem.”
Goodin is part of the global executive team and interacts with colleagues to support and enable them to achieve business strategic objectives.
“Typically this is via conversation, workshops, participation of project steering committees and company strategy discussions,” he says. “As a group we meet with the board on strategy several times a year and now have a robust strategic planning cycle. In this cycle business strategy leads and capability leads meet to review and debate five-year capability maps.
His team engages with the organisation in a number of ways and through various channels.
“In a recent restructure I brought in the concept of business relationship managers (BRM) whose role is to be advocates from digital to the business, the business back to digital and to support business colleagues in their innovation agendas.
“The BRM roles provide a robust communication framework,” he says.
“I use an approach where members of my team speak at different business events, for example our Friday staff briefings, to articulate different technology topics. I use blogs also as a means of communication.”
He continues to invest in leadership training for his team with the aim as a group to “trust more and lead better”.
“The programme is based on Daniel Pink’s Drive program and addresses the areas of Purpose (contribution), Mastery (progress) and Autonomy (direction) – and this is really resonating with us – bringing us closer as a team and enabling to perform at a higher level consistently.”
“Its purpose is to develop skills and competencies in growth mindset development, influencing, corporate storytelling, delivering and receiving feedback, objective and goal setting with the aim to grow our capacity as leaders and to drive stronger team alignment, engagement and performance.”