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Z CIO Lois van Waardenberg: Pure energy

Divina Paredes | Feb. 23, 2015
Lois van Waardenberg is a classical pianist, has degrees in law and information science, established a professional services startup, and has held several business and consulting roles. She mines this multifaceted background as head of business technology and information services at Z Energy.

"From there we can gather a picture of the organisation which lets us filter the kind of new technologies we should be looking at."

Van Waardenberg is cognisant she is one of the few women ICT heads in New Zealand, but is adamant there is nothing stopping women from considering a career in IT.

As for her message for women who would like to nurture a career in this field, she smiles: "What is it that you want? Make it happen."

And to those who make it to the top IT role, she is forthright that it is a "tough role".

"But it is always going to be fascinating," she says.

"In the end, it is all about people -- listening, understanding when to nudge, building energy in the team -- and staying intent on the customers," she states.

"It's the customers, and yes, I mean end customers, who really define the role, after all. Their requirements become my requirements."

'We are all about service and speed'
"With any leadership position, the more creativity you apply, the better you get on - it's not all about thinking in straight lines," says van Waardenberg.

"Ideas come from anywhere," she adds. "You become used to not focusing down on things but having the feel of things.

"That is very akin to a more conventionally creative task. You feel your way a little bit, experiment, listen out and stay open. If you are dealing with people it's really valuable to have those skills."

She finds her law degree "very useful" at Z Energy. "I have always been interested in the policy side of the law rather than the details of the legislation."

Having experience in setting up her own startup is also important in her current role.

"One of the things I bring to an organisation is to bring that sense of urgency that you have when you are doing something where it's personal scarce resources that are at stake. It's this is the kind of energy she wants to fill the technology department with."

She says Z Energy is a great place to bring to this kind of attitude. "We like to move fast, we aim to be a tightly integrated organisation."

In Z, the IT department "is part of the business - different from the too-common story of the technology people in the corner being out of sight and mind".

She finds having the Z office in Wellington's Queens Wharf laid out as an open plan helps with this goal.

"It does make some things we want to do a lot easier," she says. "We can always walk over and talk to our colleagues and vice versa."


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