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Jamila Gordon: The CIO who escaped the Somali Civil War

Byron Connolly | March 3, 2017
“There’s literally nothing that can happen in business that can even compare to the challenges I faced early in my life."

It’s fair to say that at this point, Gordon’s command of the English language had improved significantly. So much so, that people abroad felt she could be understood much better than locally-born Australians.

“I went to Budapest with IBM and I took my Australian team with me to do a high profile software implementation. The Hungarian people would say, ‘we understand her, how can you all be Australian? She speaks very clearly and you guys speak with your mouth closed',” Gordon says.

Life experience

By 2007, Gordon’s deep understanding of IT and the mechanics of business landed her the role of group chief information officer at Qantas. She joined Qantas at a time when the national airline wanted someone who could partner with the business, had a strong understanding of IT, and understood how vendors worked internally so the organisation could extract as much value as possible from its IT investment.

At the time, Qantas had engaged IBM to provide infrastructure, Telstra for network services, Tata for front-facing applications, and Satyam (now Tech Mahindra) for its backend applications.

“I ticked all those boxes because that’s what I had been doing.”

While at Qantas, Gordon oversaw the installation at the airline of the next-generation Amadeus software-as-a-service platform for customer service and check-in, a world first. Gordon and her team initially implemented the platform at Perth’s domestic and international airports as a test bed before it was implemented across larger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.

Gordon spent almost six years as CIO at construction giant Leightons before moving to her current role as director and CIO at GetSwift, an ASX-listed logistics software outfit with a presence in 57 countries.

GetSwift’s wares enable users to automatically dispatch, track and manage the delivery of goods and mobile workforces. Founder Joel Macdonald built the system to provide companies with real time visibility over their fleets and the ability to notify customers with live tracking updates. These were aspects of last mile delivery that he couldn’t see inside his own online business, Gordon says.

“This is the space where global organisations of the future are being born. This organisation within the last 20 months has seen phenomenal growth,” she says. “We have just powered our one-millionth delivery.”

Gordon says any organisation that needs to deliver items to a home or business will benefit from using the platform.

“They can use it right from the cloud and we have all the APIs created. Our largest client typically wants the platform customised to their specific needs so our platform is really getting improved innovations coming from the customer. There are also innovations and insights that we are generating based on the data that we are collecting. We are constantly refining our algorithm,” she says.


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