After more than five years with the National and ANZ banks in ICT-related roles, Victor Vae'au decided, in 2007, to "round out" his career with some public-service experience. He applied for an applications development post in the NZ Defence Force and was told of an opportunity as operations manager.
That fitted his expertise profile very well, he says. Now, another five years on, he is NZDF's chief information officer.
While he had not gone looking for a Defence role in particular, Vae'au "had a personal passion for the military," he says; "I had admired them from afar. I quite like their values and decided it was a place I could work for and make a difference."
Defence is naturally a very different environment from the private sector, he says. "In the private sector, business is about making money; it's measured in the end by the bottom line. In Defence it's about New Zealand." NZDF provides the country's "insurance policy", he says; ensuring its people are well-trained and ready to respond to New Zealand's needs in differing roles.
"It makes for a challenging environment, a complex organisation with a raft of national and international obligations."
Read about the NZ Defence Force in the 2012 MIS100 report on the top ICT using organisations in New Zealand.
This means, among other things a need for interoperability in to ensure information flows seamlessly to enable command decisions. "ICT is in the middle of that, whether it's interoperability or the obtaining and sharing of information," he says, "and obviously it's in the theatre of operations; where we do our bit to enable the war fighter."
There are environmental differences in the Navy, Army and Air Force that come together to deliver Joint Operations. "One thing I found very challenging, exciting and rewarding is to try to knit those capabilities together," so as to "get the best output" to support our people.
"I have an ICT organisation that's trying to do everything in all domains," he says. "My focus is to shift [more of] our productivity into the war-fighting domain to focus on those core military services."
"That's where we should be focusing, because that's our point of difference. That's what we invest our people in and that's what matters most, whether it be in readiness for operations, humanitarian assistance or disaster relief"
The CIO of NZDF should be focussed in supporting those key unique services, Vae'au says. "There are a myriad of opportunities [elsewhere] where industry can supply services for us." We will be looking for commodity services to be provided through industry in the future.
NZDF ICT is going through a major programme of work to replace its datacentres, modernise its ICT infrastructure including upgrade of its systems through a combination of all-of government frameworks (such as IaaS) or leveraging its existing industry partners. The policy direction is set out in the Defence white paper published in 2010.
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