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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.

She has a "medium sized" team of 35 and a number of key partners to which infrastructure and some development is outsourced.

Z Energy is a "tight knit corporate" of around 320 people, she says, but its network of retailers is also an important group of users. "And then of course, there are our commercial and our retail customers - who we serve through service stations, truck stops, air stops, at marine bunkers and through direct machine refuelling.

We are all about service and speed, she says, and this has an impact on the systems her team provides.

"To be effective, my team needs to be trusted by business colleagues to provide what they need, in the way that they need, and be an advisor of choice to them," she says.

"That doesn't mean they will get everything they need through us - it is easy to get technology provisioned from all sorts of places these days," she states.

"But if we are close to our business, we can provide a kind of value that can't be found by a collection of temporary partners. Intimate knowledge of our business and technology environment is fertile ground for the recognition of technology-enabled business opportunities - and that's something we're all interested in."

The way to being trusted, to being strategic, is to be reliable.

"Reliability brings freedom," she says. "I am trusted by my colleagues if I provide reliable services, I do what I say I am going to do, and deliver what I say I will deliver. That's a good grounding for being that advisor of choice when a business unit is considering a new strategic option.

"I want the driver for this to be, 'we did something with you the last time and we got a much better result than if we would not have worked with you.'"

When it comes to the issue of shadow IT, where business units buy technology without IT's knowledge or imprimatur, it's always going to happen to some degree, she says.

"You can sit down and cry about it, or take action - use the insight gained from the behaviour to understand what is missing, and what is going to work to help the business succeed in the long term."


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