Q&A: Krist Davood, Schiavello
Krist Davood is CIO for Schiavello Group, an Australia-based construction, design and manufacturing organisation. Prior to his appearance at the 11th Annual European Shared Services & Outsourcing Week in Amsterdam, May 9-11, we spoke with Krist about the rigours of his role, his daily challenges – and the secrets of success in IT…
Outsource: Krist, can you give us some brief background on your company and on you personally, in terms of your role within Schiavello and your career up to now?
Krist Davood: The Schiavello Group is a construction and manufacturing firm with a 45-plus-year history of work across the world. The firm prides itself as a ‘one-stop shop’ meaning we will handle the end-to-end aspects of construction, fitouts and manufacturing. The firm is listed among the top 100 private Australian companies.
Established in 1966, the Schiavello Group is internationally renowned for its research, design, engineering, and manufacturing expertise in construction and fitouts. The company also develops and produces architectural joinery, signage, IT solutions and healthcare hospital solutions.
This end-to-end capability is our market differentiator as most organisations handle only one aspect of the work i.e. most organisations are manufacturers, construction or fitout. The Schiavello Group handles all aspects. Our clients include KPMG, World Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra (Telecom Australia) to name a few.
Schiavello operates from 12 main offices, scores of sales outlets and four manufacturing plants, comprising 90,000 square metres, including a 71,000-square-metre manufacturing plant located at the firm’s international headquarters at Tullamarine, in Melbourne, Australia.
As CIO I have the responsibility for the delivery of Schiavello technologies and innovation to support the rapidly changing and evolving Schiavello business. I’m an accomplished member of the IT business community with over 20 years in IT, delivering business system solutions and leadership across a number of industry sectors and geographies.
I developed my domain knowledge while working in various consulting roles at NRMA Insurance Australia, AMP Insurance Australia, BHP, Shell Australia, Australia Post and Telstra during the 1990s, before moving into program management roles at Deloitte and Medibank Private Health. Immediately prior to joining the Schiavello Group I held executive roles in Telstra and AGL Energy.
As CIO, I lead all elements of IT investment and IT operations.
O: Can you describe the IT function at Schiavello: what does your team look like and how is it structured?
KD: My first priority at the Schiavello Group was to implement the PMO (Project Management Office) and the SSMO (Shared Services Management Office). These two structures prioritise and lead the delivery of projects and shared services respectively. Both offices also managed the outsourced arrangement we’ve put into place for our cloud migration. I’ll be speaking more of our cloud implementation during the SSON conference in Amsterdam.
The PCI (People Centred Implementation) methodology has been the key to making the PMO and SSMO a success. PCI puts people in the driver’s seat and empowers them to directly contribute to the success of the project. In short PCI empowers the business to make key implementation decisions; my role was to lead and mentor the PCI champions.
My IT teams are divided in five key areas: architecture, support, infrastructure, development and networks. The PMO and SSMO are mechanisms which manage the running of these five key IT functions. The PMO and SSMO also are in charge of IT Governance and issue escalation processes to ensure an orderly handling of service requests.
O: What have been your major challenges since taking on your current role and how have you overcome them?
KD: People, people and people. I passionately believe most failed IT implementations fail due to the lack of business alignment capabilities. The first thing I did at the Schiavello Group was to activate a ‘business alignment function’ so we have regular contact with the business. My challenge was to remove the silos which hamper open transparent relationships with the business. By relationships I mean ‘integrating into the business’.
I see this ‘relationship integration’ as the key to any implementation. My heroes are Winston Churchill and Rudy Giuliani as both of these great leaders understood people were the key to implementation of their policies.
I believe with a passion most leaders forget the value of people.
To answer the question directly ‘people’ are the most challenging and rewarding parts of my role.
O: More broadly, what do you see as having been the major challenges for business IT leaders over the last few years?
I’ve noticed an abhorrent lack of business skills in IT; I passionately believe IT will thrive when IT leaders become business leaders rather than just ‘technologists’.
O: Do you feel the role of the CIO has changed in recent years (perhaps partly as a response to the financial crisis) and if so, how? Do you find yourself moving more and more into a profit-driving role?
IT is essential to business survival. To prove this point try not having any basic IT services for the whole morning.
CIOs need to be business leaders and then and only then will they be part of the strategic direction of the business. Apple is a prime example of an organisation which used technological innovation to grow within the financial crisis.
I personally find my role very satisfying as I have a key seat to setting up the strategic direction of the firm.
The ‘new age’ CIO is required to be extroverted and highly well spoken and needs to have a consultative and advisory approach to their role.
O: How do you see the move towards a cloud-based model impacting upon your business?
KD: I’ll be speaking about this at the SSON conference in Amsterdam; however our firm has embraced the concept of cloud services for our network layer. The savings alone speaks volumes about its effectiveness – and even more importantly the productivity gains we’ve realised from implementing cloud services.
O: Other than cloud, what do you think will be the major trends impacting upon IT for business over the next business cycle?
KD: Business trends can indeed be a challenge to predict; however I do know that technology and shared services is at the core of such change.
I believe IT’s future is based on mobility. The context of ‘mobililty’ is based on the mobile use of technology and shared services. The term ‘mobility’ covers mobiles/PDAs, tablets and laptops.
I have reason to believe these technologies will begin to merge as people will demand the integration of these devices as it doesn’t make sense to have three different contracts with your ISP (internet service provider) for your mobile, laptop and tablet. The future will mean the convergence of these technologies and the greater use of LBS (location-based services).
The convergence of these technologies will mean a one-on-one relationship between an user and a device thus enabling a greater amount of services to be provided.
Unfortunately this also means greater risk as the content on these devices becomes invaluable. This will be an interesting response to revisit in a couple of years time!
O: Finally, what are the secrets to IT success?
KD: People, people and people. I always remember IT’s success is always tied back to its people and the people they empower (i.e. the business).
IT’s success is its implementations; people are critical to the success of implementations. To answer the question, understanding people’s drivers is the key to IT’s success. An obvious expertise in all aspects of IT is pivotal i.e. networks, communications, infrastructure, business systems, PMO and databases.