Westpac to hire McKinnon's replacement

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Westpac to hire McKinnon's replacement

New technology exec also under COO's direction.

Westpac will shortly hire a group technology executive to replace Bob McKinnon, who became an enterprise executive in its newly formed group services division yesterday.

The bank yesterday announced that McKinnon, who has reported to chief executive officer Gail Kelly since he joined Westpac in 2008, would "step back from a full-time group executive role" after having overseen its technology overhaul.

A spokesman clarified today that McKinnon would continue to work full-time in his new position under chief operating officer John Arthur for a year, before scaling back to fewer hours.

The move was aligned with his career plans, she said.

Westpac's new group technology executive -- yet to be officially appointed -- will have McKinnon's previous title but report to Arthur instead of Kelly.

The spokesman said the new hire would be McKinnon's peer in the group services division, which would continue to deliver the bank's Strategic Investment Priorities (SIP) technology program.

Westpac's move echoed an ANZ Bank restructure in October, under which chief information officer Anne Weatherston came under the direction of COO Alistair Currie instead of CEO Mike Smith.

It leaves Commonwealth Bank’s “celebrity CIO” Michael Harte as the only big four bank CIO to report directly to a chief executive officer -- a trend that could "dilute" innovation in the sector, an AIIA Financial Services panel heard today.

“When you’re one step away from the decision makers, it’s really really hard to influence innovation,” said Jason Millett of MillStreet Consulting.

“How often have we seen our innovative ideas that have been generated from the coding floor, call centre, data centre or wherever it may be, get diluted as they get further and further up through filters of ignorance or misunderstanding?”

Millett urged technologists to become more business savvy, to educate their companies on opportunities and develop solutions to business problems as they appear.

"Every IT person here should be thinking: 'What do I do when I grow up?'

"What you should do when you grow up is run the company," he said, highlighting the career progression of outgoing Commonwealth Bank CEO Ralph Norris.

Invest-Ex founder Steve Shipley said his experience with executive recruitment agencies indicated that financial services firms sought CIOs who had the ability to become CEOs.

"That doesn't always work out, but aspirationally, they definitely want CIOs who are capable of being an integral part of the executive management team and stepping into that [CEO] role at some point," he said.

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