Q&A with Jetstar’s CIO, Stephen Tame

What does a typical day look like for you? We’re in constant program mode so I’m always looking at the programs and projects in progress and there are quite a number across the business. It could be new networks, growth, new planes or systems or changes, so it is a constant challenge.

There’s only a very small team. There’s only six of us in IT so everything else we have is outsourced. 95 per cent of our time is spent actually managing on behalf of the business all of our service contracts, and service outcomes, and the other 5 per cent we’re meant to be doing our investment in the future. So a typical day for me would be 95 per cent running the business and 5 per cent investing in the future and that’s where I really get the joy out of doing the job.

What do you think the top challenges are that CIOs are facing? CIOs are concerned and have been concerned around what has been the economic outcome, so the cost of both capital and cost control.

Quite a few of them are using traditional methods to solve what is a new problem. Our approach is different where we’re really trying to say we need new methods and we need new ways of working. I think one of the challenges that’s affecting CIOs is complacency in the way things are or have been, and they’re not really responding, in my view, to what is the future.

See CIO Australia's in-depth interview with Jetstar CIO, Stephen Tame.

The best example I quote of that is that it’s unrealistic these days to think that you’re going to recruit somebody who has more IT skills than anybody in the business has had before, who has been using a laptop since grade three, who have come out of University, and then we bring them into the business and lock them down. So my view is there’s a lot of historical thinking and people need to broaden their horizons a bit.

What’s next on your IT agenda? I’m progressing IT skills across the business. One of the programs that I’ve been working on this year that’s really outside of the IT job is around how I can help the business on a lot of the business processes and sourcing. We’re really strong at that sort of thing, but we’ve got to take it out of, what is known as a traditional IT thing, and into an organisational activity.

There are a lot of things we can look at like how we do a lot of our service delivery – and this is not IT service, its business service. So how do you deliver the payroll function both from a systems people and sourcing view? How do you deliver the accounts payable function? How do you deliver flight planning? How can you build a service delivery, and what I mean is the outcome. So some of it could be software, some of it could be people, some of it could be process, but really it’s the outcome. How do you deliver the service delivery model that is world best practice that is potentially challengeable by our franchised businesses?

Do you report to the CEO directly or the CFO? Historically it has been the case [that you report to the CFO] because nobody trusts the CIOs not to spend too much money! So that’s why they make them report to a CFO. I’m not against that, so I report through to Richard [Moore] who is the group CFO, and he reports into Bruce [Buchanan who earlier this year announced that the airline would conduct daily direct services between Melbourne and Singapore ].

We’ve changed our structure recently, so we now have a CEO of the Australia and New Zeleand business, which is a guy called David Hall, we have a CEO of the Jetstar Asia business and now we have a group function, so IT is actually a group functionso I have some responsibility across Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Pacific and I’ve got to be smart about how I manage that. I can’t go in there and say ‘you will’, ‘you have to’, ‘you must’, I’m here to add value, I’m here to add benefit, therefore, this is what we’re doing as a group, would you like to share in this and I’d really need to position the services that we do as being acceptable, and it’s very hard to sell services in Asia.

We have an interesting structure. So while I report into the CFO, it is recognised that I deliver services across the business.

What’s your favourite gadget? I think as a personal device the iPad is brilliant, but as a corporate device I don’t quite see the driver just yet. My gadget right now is probably the iPhone which is, as a gadget, does lots of good stuff. I’ve got my email on it, it’s easy to use, my son’s got about 40 or 50 games on it, he plays it every time we’re in the car, so as a balanced device it’s pretty good.

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