In Conversation With Sarv Girn


Published on

“Technology Leadership to drive transformation
during intense business change”

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

In Conversation With Sarv Girn

  1. 1. In Conversation with Sarv Girn Group General Manager, Enterprise Technology Services Westpac“Technology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change” November 2011
  2. 2. IntroductionWelcome to the latest in the, “In Conversation with” series of White Papers. Firstly we wouldlike to introduce and thank our guest speaker Sarv Girn from Westpac.Sarv is the Group General Manager for the Enterprise Technology Services function acrossThe Westpac Group, one of Australias leading banks with operations across Australia, NewZealand and the broader Asia region.As part of this accountability, Sarv leads a team of CIOs across a multi-brand business modelsupporting the retail, wealth and institutional banking divisions, as well as managing grouplevel IT services covering Governance, Commercial Sourcing, Security, and CTO (Strategy,Architecture and Engineering).Sarv has held a range of roles over a 25 year technology career that has specialised in thefinancial services industry across the UK and now Australia.His experience in the early years focussed on project delivery roles that have drivenimplementation of a number of systems across banking, insurance and investmentmanagement platforms.Over recent period Sarv has held senior leadership positions that have entailed providingdirection to align technology to business strategies, and driving initiatives to improve cost,growth and customer service objectives.Prior to joining Westpac in October 2008, Sarv held executive roles at the CommonwealthBank, firstly as Chief Technology Officer from 2001, and then Chief Information SecurityOfficer from 2005.Setting the sceneIn thinking about pulling the topic together for discussion we wanted to focus on the theme ofLeadership and draw on Sarv’s personal experiences in this space. Taking that principle Sarvfelt there was a real opportunity in the current climate to talk about leadership in abnormal (atlast in terms of historical data) times. To put this into context; in times of great change, costpressures, Merger and Acquisition activity and the current effects of globalisation on volatilitythat is apparent in our daily economic cycle.Leadership in our world – Technology – is no longer about RUN; this should be a given for allleaders in the technology space. RUN is merely your ticket to the game. For example atWestpac 75% of transaction and possibly more have no human touch, the interface betweenthe business and IT is symbiotic and much more complex than in days gone by.We think it is true to say and has been for the last few years in talking about banks and othercomplex financial institutions that we are a technology company with lots of regulation.In reaching this conclusion Sarv has pulled together 5 key learning’s/focus areas to share theexperience and put forward the new Technology Leadership Proposition. Technology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 1
  3. 3. The five Focus areas for discussion were:Strategy, Governance, Delivery, People and Partners1) Strategy Clarity in Business & IT strategy – are these understood by the Business and IT ? Organisation vision & values – does the culture support the change agenda ? Where to win, how to win – are focus areas in the business strategy articulated ? A “good” IT strategy – how do you know you have the right IT strategy ?Do we really understand the business and do they really understand the technology strategy –it has to be a two way street. From a leadership perspective the importance of alignmentcannot be under valued.Sarv Girn – For us the litmus test as to get your key leaders and sponsors on the businessside to talk about the IT strategy, why what and the benefits. When we first talked about thiswithin the IT lead team at Westpac; although we all agreed it was the right direction we alsofelt we were embarking on a journey that was fraught with risk, by allowing non IT people toarticulate the IT strategy.One of the other obstacles we came across in areas of the business was the constant replywhen asking for a description or copy of the business strategy was that they didn’t have one. Iwould say to you there always is one you; just have to capture it in words if there is no hardcopy to review.Does the culture of your organisation reflect what you want to and in some cases need toachieve from an IT leadership and strategy perspective. We found that you need to get theright people to support and champion your change agenda.Arno Franz – In response Arno talked about TPI’s experience in that there is often a huge gapbetween the business and IT and the aforementioned presupposes a general alignmentbetween the business and IT in the first place. In his experience that was not often the caseand that more often than not there was a great deal of division between the different businessunits in companies. How do you effectively close those gaps regardless of whether the execand even the CEO were supportive and had sent the message down from on high?Sarv Girn – Acknowledged that yes this is the case especially at the business division layerbut talked back to culture. Westpac certainly had issues around stability when Sarv movedTechnology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 2
  4. 4. into the role, particular severity 1’s, which clearly was not a great place to start relationsbetween IT and the business.They way they went about resolving issues and setting up relationships going forwards was toget the Business GM’s to share the issues around stability and the benefits of getting themresolved. The only way to do this was to affect their bonus’s based on fixing the stabilityissues.2) Governance Executive oversight – does this start with the Board, CEO or CIO ? Accountability for Business Case and Delivery – is this a committee ? Solution Quality – who looks at this and does this matter ? Benefits tracking – do soft benefits matter ?The first question we asked ourselves in sitting up the governance was who chairs it.At Westpac we wanted to go to the highest level so we have a sub committee on the Westpacboard that overseas IT governance. If you anchor yourself at the board level it really helps youcut through the silos and breakdown the fiefdoms.Who is measuring quality? In our world, and mine in particular, the CTO certifies every quarterand reports to the board on certification of releases to ensure what we are releasing isacceptable to meet the banks requirements.We have to go out to the business and get acceptance to take to the board – this is a verypowerful tool.Gideon Lupton – Bearing Point – who measures the business benefit – Sarv – the businessGM has this responsibility and again it is tied to their bonus structure.Glen Mason – NRMA – How do you align the test specifications and reporting on quality andwhere do the test team sit to enable this?Sarv Girn – 2.5 years ago the test teams were very poor performers so we invested in acentral testing environment. The environment remains separated from the project areas sothis allows the test team and the leaders within that area to call out bad behaviour.To reinforce our drive for quality, measurement and control, we drove a new strategy wherequarterly certification was key- so every vendor and supplier had to send me their certification.Technology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 3
  5. 5. There are always exceptions that you have to let go; but by putting in place this governanceand rigour we are extremely well informed. A good example was the Teller Platform, wherewe opted for a point to point platform. The business was contemplating an upgrade and aconsolidation simultaneously, the risk was just too great for us and the business hence it didnot go ahead.Darrin Webb – Has the rigour that you have put in around the governance piece stifledinnovation, Sarv – yes to degree but innovation has not been our goal at this stage.3) Delivery Enterprise Master Schedule – does this include only IT change ? Centres of Excellence – are common needs delivered by each programme ? Release Schedule – do you allocate take off and landing slots for projects ? Change Management – are your customers and staff ready ?Really in the context of the environment we have at Westpac – an enormous transformationagenda, and not dissimilar to what I did previously with CBATo try and address the enormity of the task at hand and deliver the best outcomes for thebusiness we came up with the notion of “Runways”. When are projects taking off and when arethey landing. We built an enterprise wide master document where the schedule wascollaboration between the business and IT. This immediately allowed us to pullout of, orwithdraw completely, from a range of programs that were out of scope. Secondly we moved toa quarterly release schedule, moving away from moving targets and unrealistic demands forupgrades.To enable us to stay on this delivery schedule and complete we required a huge cultural shift,but we also realised that it would work well in some areas and not be appropriate in others, forinstance in WIB it was never going to fly whereas in retail banking it was highly appropriateand this was jst down to the nature and operational processes in the two very different areas.Andrew Goth – Does this create additional risk for you on the day that those quarterlyreleases land?Yes it does but we felt that on balance this was the right strategy for us and bear in mind thistype of enterprise wide initiative takes time.Peter Wright – Melbourne IT – This is a bigger issue on the customer side and the realcreation of value to the end customer.Technology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 4
  6. 6. Shane Martin – you need a really good fact base to make this type of relationship with thebusiness work, but it does ensure that every one gets skin in the game and it is not just theloudest voice that gets heard.Peter Wright – have you found that there is enough investment and enough of the rightinformation at the right time.Shane Martin – You need a straight fact base to ensure a shared and aligned view.Sarv Girn – The change management piece really helped us. A good example gain wasworking with the business where they wanted to change the online branding while alsosending out a new software release in the contact centre, for us this was a pragmaticconversation and we drove the communication and highlighted the riskGlenn Mason – Business people with IT KPI’s is a great idea but does it work both ways, didyou KPI the IT guys on business outcomes?Sarv Girn – Absolutely. The senior IT Leaders have 40% of their KPI based on businessoutcomes, it had to be both ways if we were to get this innovative strategy over the line.4) People Right people in the right roles – are these for the specific needs of the organisation ? Career development – are project roles seen as less senior or less attractive ? Capability and Capacity – which skills, how many, and how much will its cost ? Retention – who do you need during and beyond the transformation ?The context for Westpac is really about having huge demand for people in the organisation fora limited time window as we drive transformation. When we started this journey 3 years agowe needed some deep engineering capability and some detailed design and build skills in theDC space for a defined and short period of time. You will all know that Bob hired RandyFennel in as our Chief Engineer; he has completed his work and is now heading back to theUS.The issue we are still struggling with is the understanding that a project based career isattractive and one people want to pursue; at the moment the line roles still tend to be thesexier roles people see from a career perspective.How do you build a career PM role for people and move them from project to project?Technology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 5
  7. 7. Peter Wright – Do you have to separate them, can’t you have your best and brightest peoplemoving between line management and project management rolesSarv Girn – I am not sure we get it right, not just Westpac but the grater IT leadership piece –we need our A team people on the business critical programs of work and the projects; butcan’t always pull them out of their stable line careers.Darrin Webb – In our experience at Telstra this environment is dominated by contractresource, it is just the nature of the beast.Sarv Girn – we have been very successful in converting a lot of our key contract resource topermanent positions, largely due to the challenging work we have to offer. In addition to whichwe have made great use of offshore SI’s.Arno Franz – In our experience we have found it difficult to marry up the governance processwith the use of contractors ad the associated risk, if you look at Qantas for example all of theirPM’s come from IBM and not the A team guys as they are not available and not cost effective.Glen Mason – What happens when your actions can potentially effect the profits of a businessuni, division or indeed the company?Sarv Girn – good question and never a straight forward one, you have to make a businessdecision and if that effects profit then so be it, but we make the decision based on all the factsfrom both parties.Glenn Mason – The key learning in my experience is that regular, timely software releaseswork and the business does get used to it over time. You have to be ruthless on the 1st releaseand go with minimal change requests.Sarv Girn - Getting back to the people piece – it comes down to capability capacity and cost,this to us a very cyclical activity. We had to ask ourselves at the start can we go on thetransformation journey and do it ourselves or do we need help? The answer was clearly no, sowe set about setting up a panel to look at a best sourcing model so we could augment our ownresources with external capability and capacity. The last three years progress would not havebeen possible without those external partners.Finally in regard to the people piece in times of transformation – who do you keep beyond theproject lifecycle and in what capacity? Who you need going forwards is often very different towhat we had in the past as we move out of transformation into BAU, not to mention therestructures a company like Westpac has been through?Technology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 6
  8. 8. 5) Partners Sourcing strategy – you are accountable, do you have the right oversight ? Shared account plans – do you have one ? Joint KPIs – how do you set common goals ? Clarity in accountability – does your contract create a „shadow‟ organisation ?It can be very easy for corporates, especially the large corporates, who can use their muscleto blame external parties when things go wrong. From our perspective at Westpac we wantedto make sure as an IT lead team that we were accountable; for example when consolidatingand moving the DC operations the technical lead i.e. the CTO is accountable and responsiblefor the success or failure of that program of work.The way we have approached our partners is fresh and innovative and looks at sharedaccount plans and the realisation that both parties have skin in the game, costs versusrevenue depending on which side of the fence you sit. We extended this to try and trulyunderstand what the suppliers strategic plans in the region were, how they wanted to grow,with which areas and which customers and for us to help them where possible and build a truepartnership.i.e. IBM were looking to do more business in Australia from a global percentage shareperspective and the importance of the relationship to the two companies was essential so weboth worked hard to turn around what had gone before to create a win win scenario.Andrew Groth – I have seen various flavours of this and specifically where you can opendialogue on a long term strategic basis. At Infosys we like to try and measure this, you candefinitely see that the benefits are huge if you can get some genuine alignment in place andform joint KPI’s with your partners.Paul Rush – Whether it is driven locally, regionally or globally it will depend entirely upon thepeople involved and their agenda’s. Specifically if there is a global relationship with some onelike IBM, the risk you face is doing a deal locally or regionally that is supported globally in thefirst phase; then a new leadership team come into play globally and the good intent and timeinvested can disappear overnight, regardless of the contract.You have to have the right people supporting this initiative over the duration of the partnership.Technology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 7
  9. 9. Darrin Webb – At the end of the day it is all about intent, if you don’t have the right intent andenter the discussions without transparency and the want to broker something strategic,innovative and commercially viable it can’t work.Peter Wright – What due diligence you go through when choosing that type ofpartnership/relationship is key.Shane Martin – You make a good point having worked on both sides of CBA and EDS, I had3 interviews from CBA people before I was offered the job with EDS. This certainly sent theright message to me about the state of the partnership and the intent on both sides of thefence, and reaffirmed the clarity and accountability that EDS had for the CBA account.Sarv Girn – If you are in a period of change and uncertainty the partnership and the intentbehind that partnership is really important because of the additional challenges that theenvironment present to both parties. e.g. the IT department bagging the IT supplier and thecreation and notions of Shadow Teams – who is the design authority and the consciousblurring of lines of responsibility can be extremely challenging and also damaging. Whochooses and is responsible for investment in new technology; we have been very clear on thelines of responsibility and that the bank is responsible for choosing new technology not thesupplier.We have taken this a step further in regard to compliance and certification, so all of oursoftware suppliers have to send over their certification material. It is important that the bankowns the process, tools and workflow; therefore we keep the shadows at bay!6) Leadership1. Strategy – let the Business present the IT strategy2. Governance – the Board is the starting point, and quality does matter3. Delivery – efficient, effective and modular – for an ever changing world4. People – skill and capability needs vary for each wave of change5. Vendors – get clarity in contracts, on who does what and whenPaul Rush – Taking us back to the start of the topic how have you and the IT lead team atWestpac invested in leadership and development of your leaders and future leaders, if youlook at the investment Mike Heart made at CBA with MIT as an example?Sarv Girn – We do this in a number of ways but are also cognisant that we have to lead fromthe front and roll our sleeves up when necessary. Part of this is a program where 300 peopleTechnology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 8
  10. 10. in IT go and work in a branch and take the flack and communication for the whole of IT at thecoalface. They also help to provide quick fixes in real time and show that we are actuallyworking for the good of the bank and want to help people at branch level. The motivation thiscreates within IT for those people and beyond is enormous and the information that we getback from the business is invaluable.Paul Rush – Not dissimilar to McDonalds hiring policy, what ever level you enter the businessyou spend the first two weeks working in a McDonald’s restaurant so you understand everyissue and touch point of the business at the coalface.Andrew Growth – How do you set policy in the day to day operations that are feasible if youhave such a tight governance process?Sarv Girn – A good question and I can give you a live example, we recently went to visit ourpartners site in Singapore and had to leave our mobile phones at the desk as that was thepolicy that we had put in place for security and intellectual property reasons. During that timewe had to call back to head office in Australia and part of the local policy was the phones onsite were not able to make international calls, again a policy we put in place ourselves.Subsequently we reviewed the policy and change it to a more pragmatic solution.In some cultures people will not talk about issues and you have to understand how to workaround those cultural nuances to ensure you get as much information as possible and the rightsolutions in place.Shane Martin – Where is benchmarking used in relation to Westpac’s ongoing governance oflarge commercial contracts?Arno Franz – In my experience benchmarking doesn’t work and often precludes peoplegetting on with framing a contract and getting startedSarv Girn – We had a good look at this early on and opted for shorter contracts and thereforethe ability to renew and change the terms is much easier, especially in a changingenvironment and market.Andrew Groth – From experience we have not seen them be successful in terms of gettingthe best outcome for both parties.Arno Franz – With a company we worked with where we were asked to do somebenchmarking, and on further exploration as to why they wanted to go this route, it becameclear they were not happy with their service provider and wanted to use this as an excuse tofire/replace themDarrin Webb – We have found in Telco it is pretty much the norm and our customers expectto go through a rigorous benchmarking process both pre and post selection.Technology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 9
  11. 11. Peter Wright – With the shorter contracts you mentioned how are you managing theamortisation of assets?Arno Franz – Absolutely especially with multi sourcing and looking at final assets which hasbeen a big shift from the early 90’s, those days are gone.Andrew Groth – We have seen significant pricing pressure added to which, deal levels havegone down, people tend not to talk about the TVC (Total value of contract) of the deal butmore of an annualised view.Arno Franz – Capability to manage the environment is becoming more important and we arestarting to see hybrid deals that are more complex and more international in nature.Andrew Groth – Yes we are certainly not seeing any contracts that are10 – 12 yearsanymore.Shane Martin – With the advent of these partnerships the incentives for the sales peopledoing the deals have changed significantly with much more based on outcomes and actualdelivery.Andrew Groth – Yes we are seeing some contracts where there is a clause that talks aboutbeing paid on performance.Sarv Girn – Yes we are also seeing the rise of a lot of sub contracts especially ininfrastructure where you are looking at delivering infrastructure as a service where IBM mightbe the lead and they partner with a range of other firms like EMC to get best of breed up anddown the stack.IT is the case that the role of vendor manager within the enterprise is becoming an extremelycritical role; with strong commercial and negotiation experience but also the gravitas requiredto pull off some of these mega deals. With IBM we have quarterly governance andcommercials meetings; to Paul’s point it is very much about the people and the leadershipdisplayed and by all parties concerned.Glenn Mason – In a lot of cases it is often the technology leaders who can’t articulate at thislevel and end up shooting themselves in the foot, as they can’t liaise at the right level to getthe win win solution that everyone aspires to, and also to gain the confidence from softwaresuppliers and other partners to enter into the partnership in the first place.Flexibility in regard to sourcingPaul Rush – We have started to see the uptake of true interim managers; not contractors orpermanent staff that fancy doing an interim piece of work but full time dedicated Interims. Thisis certainly a solution that would work given your earlier thoughts on projects as a career.Sarv Girn – It is a matter of weighing up risk with trust and really understanding who you andthe business can put your trust in, with Interims there is a clear lead time before that trust canTechnology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 10
  12. 12. be built, where as if you take people from line roles and put them into senior project leadershiproles, the trust has already been earned.Furthermore where it has not worked for us and I suspect other companies is where you bringin a high profile person and they in turn bring in their own people on expensive long termcontracts; this doesn’t taste right and in the end you don’t get the same level of trust andindeed deliverables.SummaryIn summary we were unanimous in our thinking that the importance of strong and appropriateleadership in technology within times of wholesale change and transformation is imperative tosuccess. From this you need the right people in the right place at the right time, maybe weshould borrow a phrase from the technical evangelists’ of old, “Anytime and place any whereThe Martini Effect replacing any with right!You need to ensure executive level sponsorship, a strong governance process, an ability todrive change at all levels and especially culturally; a modern view towards partnership and theright tools for continuous improvement and self learning at the leadership end of town.AttendeesArno Franz TPI Partner and Regional President, Asia PacificAndrew Groth Infosys Vice President & General Manager, Financial ServicesGideon Lupton Bearing Point Senior Partner and co-ownerShane Martin ConsultantGlenn Mason NRMA Chief Information OfficerPaul Rush Partner Robertson Executive SearchDarrin Webb Telstra Director, Enterprise Managed ServicesPeter Wright Melbourne IT Executive General ManagerApologiesGreg Booker ANZ Wealth Chief Information OfficerTony Clasquin Stockland Interim Chief Executive OfficerScott Farquhar Lend Lease Group Chief Information OfficerSharon Kennedy Ausgrid Chief Information OfficerRichard Marrison KPMG Senior Partner, Management ConsultingPeter Merrick CSC Consulting, GBSTechnology Leadership to drive transformation during intense business change Page 11