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How to stay relaxed when you're leading a revolution

By George Nott | Aug. 18, 2016
It is not just the technology that CIO Tim Thurman is changing at the Australian Securities Exchange

ASX CIO Tim Thurman

When the Australian Securities Exchange’s CIO Tim Thurman arrives at the office each morning, he surveys the new world he has created. Gone are the closed-door cubical offices, the desktop computers, and many of his technology team aren’t in sight, but off sitting with other business units.

“I come into work and I see my stand-ups going on,” he says. “They have their breakouts. Almost every wall on one of my floors here there’s a whiteboard. No one is taped to a desk. Every team member on our projects collocates. There’s no excuses now from going and being collaborative with your teammates.”

The ASX is in the middle of a four-year, $50 million transformation of its trading and post-trade systems. The overhaul will change the exchange’s back-end completely.

The project includes a new market monitoring system from TIBCO, the replacement of the ASX Trade24 derivatives platform and the equities platform, and a new risk management system using NASDAQ technology. There have been forays into blockchain as the exchange looks to its aging post-trade CHESS (Clearing House Electronic Subregister System) platform.

“About 99 per cent of our technology is on the roadmap for being replaced,” says Thurman. “Technically, it will be a night and day difference”.

There’s also changes happening to general ledger systems, billing systems, surveillance and compliance systems. Disparate CRMs are being slimmed down from 14 to one.

“We’ve got two dozen projects running in parallel that are chipping away, taking small bites of a big white elephant,” he says.

All change

It’s not just the technology that’s changing. Thurman is revolutionising the workplace environment and culture of the business. No easy feat in such a historic institution.

“The exchange has never gone under this level of change before in its history,” says the Canadian, who joined the company from Credit Suisse in 2012. “When we started tearing walls down and offices it was a bit disruptive. It was not easy. As you can imagine there was some resistance.”

The upgrade was announced in February last year. It’s required some convincing of colleagues in other parts of the business as to why the change had to happen in the first place.

“It was very hard back when I first got here to convince the ASX that all of our technology had to be replaced,” he says. “I think that was the biggest thing for my colleagues on the business side to get their heads wrapped around, is that it needed to be done.”

“But Elmer [Funke Kupper former CEO] brought me down to change the way the ASX works and the technology. Part of my MO is be very disruptive and it’s what we’re doing.”


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