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Switched on CIO: Simon Clarke of Trustpower

Divina Paredes | March 6, 2015
Clarke treaded quite an unusual career path – corporate lawyer, CEO, and now general manager business solutions and technology for Trustpower.

"We also have a customer insights team in our marketing team and they work with a dedicated business intelligence team that sits within technology," he states. The two teams are jointly responsible for full business intelligence and operational reporting.

"The marketing team will say, 'We have these insights. How can we use these in existing data to drive opportunity that is good for us to improve our business or our customer's experience?'"

These joint projects between technology and other business units were not necessarily the norm when Clarke first came in.

"When I first arrived, a lot of people in the technology team were talking about, '"The business wants this.'"

I tried to change the language, he states. "Our business is the organisation, we are a part of the organisation," he stressed to the team.

An important component of their job is to ensure ICT delivers quality services.

"You have got to get all the basic IT stuff right. That's hygiene," he states. He says the team focused on a lot of these services in the first year of his term, and after that, he felt the team was getting into a better space to be "trusted to start leading change".

Essential executive skills
Being a participant at Board meetings and being on the executive level team ensures technology is involved in setting the strategic direction of the organisation, and has influence and early visibility of strategic programs, he states. "I think it's fair to say that ICT has repositioned itself from being thought of as a reactionary IT service provider, to becoming a business solutions focused team that is intimately involved in the business direction and strategy."

Thinking strategically and working with different stakeholders are skills Clarke honed in his days as corporate lawyer and CEO.

Before joining Trustpower, Clarke was CEO of Arc Innovations, a leader in advanced metering infrastructure and smart grid devices, based in Christchurch. Before Arc, he was assistant general counsel at another energy company, Meridian.

He started his career as a general commercial lawyer, based in Tauranga, his home town, which is also the headquarters of Trustpower. After this, he moved to Dublin, Ireland, as a senior corporate solicitor for large law firm William Fry. It was during the dotcom era, and he worked on IPOs, mergers and acquisitions and commercial contracts. "The Irish certainly knew how to play hard and work hard!" he says.

ICT has repositioned itself from being thought of as a reactionary IT service provider, to becoming a business solutions focused team that is intimately involved in the business direction and strategy.

Back in Wellington, he worked as an associate corporate lawyer at Kensington Swan before moving to Meridian.

 

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