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Why playing tennis with the CEO may secure your future

Byron Connolly | July 22, 2015
IT must align with the business and develop human relationships with leaders, or face being left behind.

"So when he screws up, and he will because he's in IT ... what will keep him in his job is the fact that he has that relationship.

"The [CEO] is going to go, you know, John explain to me what's gone wrong here?' And they'll have a discussion human to human' rather than [the CEO saying], that d***head doesn't know what he's doing.

"That's what we are missing in IT, those skills of stakeholder management, communication and marketing we really don't do enough of that."

Instead, IT heads are still too busy sitting up at 2am in the morning worrying if the ERP system is still running, he said.

"That's why the business partner role is starting to look at some of that and a number of organisations are doing that to start managing the politics, managing stakeholders, knowing who likes you and who doesn't," he said.

Hagley said that Lorna Jane is a very culturally-driven company and communication is often informal.

"We are not big around formalised meetings ... any of that formality that you would find a bigger organisation. In fact, coming down here [to Sydney] I bought a jacket on Sunday because I haven't owned one for quite a while.

"What it means for me is building those relationships, I spent a lot of time with my peer executives, with the CEO, with the CFO, with Lorna [Jane] as well, talking about where we are headed and what we are doing.

"There's no set agenda, it's getting in front of them and building that rapport and trust and really from a CIO's perspective, I've always seen it as our responsibility to understand the business and not for them to understand us in effect and drive that relationship building and immerse yourself into the business," he said.

Hagley added that he is often accused by friends of drinking the kool-aid' when he moves from business to business.

"But I feel that you really need to understand it [a business] or you can't make reasonable decisions. I've come from a technical background my strategy moving forward is that I've got to understand the people better or it's never going to work," he said.

"I spend a lot of time canvassing vendors, doing a lot of reading and making sure I can come up with solutions that might fit what I call the digital playbook'.

"We need to present these retailers with a list of arrows in a quiver, which we can then present to them to use in a coordinated fashion. Particularly in retail that needs to be dynamic, it needs to be built with components, not a silver bullet approach," he said.

 

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