McGrath held the job at Boral since 2001. He was due to start work at the ASX-listed Asciano late next month.
"As our first CIO, Kelvin will play a key role in guiding major IT strategic projects across the group and he'll be responsible for driving programs to create continuity and increase efficiency across the sites," said Asciano chief executive officer Mark Rowsthorn.
Among McGrath's previous roles were information technology delivery manager for Transpower New Zealand. His LinkedIn profile says he was educated at Massey University and University of Canterbury.
Asciano's operations include Pacific National's rail operations and Patrick's ports and stevedoring businesses.