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Joe Locandro of Cathay Pacific Airways: Soaring higher with technology

Nurdianah Md Nur | Oct. 7, 2014
We find out how Cathay Pacific Airways is utilising technology to innovate as well as improve operational efficiency and customer experience.

First, there was the industrial revolution. Then came the agricultural revolution. In this century, I believe that we are in the technology revolution. Each of these has a lasting effect on the world we live in and I've been fortunate to be part of it.

Could you tell me more about the biggest challenge you've faced as the CIO of Cathay Pacific and how you overcame it?
There are numerous challenges being a CIO of a large global airline. By far, the biggest challenge is to ensure that the technology investment portfolio and strategies will underpin the airline's strategy for the future. This necessitated a lot of thinking about what the future IT state should be like and what investments are necessary to give us a flexible variable cost and on demand computing platform. This necessitated developing new standards and new strategies to embrace current and emerging technologies and how they should be adopted in a complex , global 24/7 environment.

Creating the vision and the leadership to bring everyone along the journey takes patience and trust. A lot of time is spent communicating and involving senior executives in the collaborative stages of forming the strategy. Having the best research available and using many years of experience and judgment as a CIO have been critical success factors in developing this transformational strategy in technology terms. I believe we are well on the way to achieve our vision and strategy.

How do you help lead transformation?
The first thing about transformation is to work out the approach to be used. Some CIOs may take a revolutionary approach while others may take an evolutionary approach. I prefer the latter as I'm more comfortable with bringing people along the journey at a pace and way that the organization can handle. As transformations require a true alignment and partnership with the stakeholders, it is much more important to have buy in and engagement at the start. Whilst this may take a little longer to get initial traction, it actually accelerates quite quickly once everyone is on the same page.

Secondly, transformation takes courage to do a "step function" change in the way things are done. It's not always about incremental change, rather more about change that substantially alters the way we do things and how we operate.

Transformation typically involves three pillars which need to be all coordinated to ensure effective delivery of the result. These are People, Processes and Technology. Therefore as a CIO, I need to ensure that within both IT and business that we take each of these pillars into account. I need to ensure we have the right people for the job now and in the future. We need to develop and enhance our employees' IT capability to give a sustainable development and support model. We need to review and optimise process in delivering IT outcomes. This can be anything from looking at IT governance to project delivery methods such as "turn key" and "agile". And finally, we need to ensure that we have selected and mapped out the correct technology, standards, infrastructure to deliver the strategic outcomes.


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