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Interview - Mavis Miller

CIO Focus

Name: Mavis Miller

Title: Chief Information Officer

Company : Curtin University of Technology

Time in position: Since April 2003

(previously ITS head Curtin Business School, 15 years)

Is the role of CIO gaining importance in WA?

Yes, I believe it is. With tightening of budgets and the need to reduce costs, it is important that information services are aligned to business strategy and that technology is put in place to facilitate and support business processes, not for technology’s sake. A CIO needs to gain an in-depth understanding of the organisation, the strategic directions, objectives, goals and expected outcomes in order to meet business requirements for information, systems and technology solutions.

How many employees are you responsible for?

250

What are some of the challenges you face as a CIO in WA?

Certainly finding the right personnel. While technical skills are important and it is quite difficult to find personnel who have the required skills, even more important is the right attitude.

Dealing with some companies where the major support is located in the eastern States or even overseas is a challenge.

What is your opinion of WA’s ICT market and future outlook?

I think the future is bright. I believe that organisations will need to use technology effectively in order to produce their defined business outcomes. While over the last few years we have seen a slowing in the area of development of ICT and in the resources available, I believe that from 2005 onwards we will see a growth again. However, this time businesses will be clearer regarding their business strategy and required outcomes, and will match the technology accordingly. I think the future will be even more challenging and exciting than the past.

The role of CIO is a newly created position at Curtin; what does this role involve?

At Curtin, the CIO heads the Information Services portfolio, which includes both the information and communications technology area and the university library.

The CIO provides leadership and is heavily involved in strategic and information planning at the university. There is an extensive range of information management projects and these must be controlled and coordinated. Resources have to be managed, at the same time ensuring successful outcomes of projects to meet university business requirements. Information management policies and controls need to be in place and in a university it is not an easy task to ensure compliance due to the devolved nature of the operation of such an organisation.  Curtin has a federated model of operation in place for information and communications technology. It is therefore necessary to determine what needs to be centrally managed and what may be devolved to divisional areas.

Further to this, it is very important to work cooperatively with all areas of the university so that each area may achieve its goals and objectives in teaching and learning, research and development, and administration. The CIO must know the business strategy and business requirements of all areas of the university. I am also looking towards a new model of operation for the service areas with complete cooperation and shared objectives and goals for the three service areas of information and communications technology, library and information services and the learning support network at Curtin. Through working together, I believe these three areas can really make a difference and move the university forward on the road to achieving its vision.

What are the top six issues on your agenda?

Information security management; business risk management; IT governance; IT costs; showing the business value of IT; and knowledge management.

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