As Head of Business Information and Technology Services at Z Energy, Lois van Waardenberg's focus is to meld people leadership with the business and technology aspects of her role.
As she puts it, technology is an inextricable part of solving what matters to Z Energy's customers.
Very little transport fuel (or core business) gets delivered without the assistance of information and communications technology of some kind, says van Waardenberg.
Digital services are integral, she says, from our fuel deliveries using a mobile POS in a mini-tanker to service station customers paying at the pump or inside the store.
"The bottom line: business challenges are created and solved by people, sometimes using technology."
Being in the highly competitive retail sector, (Z Energy took over the local operations of Shell) her goal is using technology effectively to win, serve and keep loyal customers. This includes simplifying the IT systems environment, with an ERP as a core component -- and a focus on what's now and what's next in the "experience" we provide our customers.
We have to serve our customers fast, in a friendly way, and hassle free, while achieving financial and operational targets, she says.
Her team continues to work across business units on a raft of projects with major business technology foundations. These include the 'Pay at Pump' services and speedy point-of-sale on retail sites. Z Energy also refined its commercial offers by teaming up with the team at Xero to provide invoice data directly into their Xero feed for free.
The business is constantly moving, she states. "We are proactively looking at ways to provide unique customer experiences that go beyond the current technology or industry trends." .
The creative bridge to IT
Van Waardenberg smiles as she relates the nuances of her role, as she says no one could have predicted the opportunities she has had in her career.
Van Waardenberg started as a classical pianist and a music teacher.
"I did that for quite a long time, and I decided to go back to the commercial world, or to use other parts of my brain again," says van Waardenberg, who was then based in London on her overseas experience.
She then took a master's in computer science. "That decision took me on a meandering career full of unexpected twists."
Meandering is an interesting choice for her post-graduate roles because since she returned to New Zealand in 1999, she has worked on both sides of the Tasman. She has been CEO of Transformation Analytics, and held a range of executive, business, and consulting roles at HP, RHE, Suncorp Group, Optimation, Solnet and Southern Cross Health Society.
She is a director of the startupWriter's Diet,, which offers a free electronic feedback tool for writers "who want to shape up their sentences but don't know where to begin".
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