Engaging the Board Series in Conversation with Mr David Conner - 27 May 2013

Category: Engaging the Board Series Published: Monday, 27 May 2013 Written by Super User

7TH CIO Executive Program, "Engaging The Board" series, in conversation with Mr David Conner on 27th May 2013 @ Fullerton Bay Hotel.

On May 27th, the Clifford at Fullerton Bay Hotel was host to almost 80 of the leading Chief Information Officers and IT industry leaders in Singapore. They were gathered for an intimate dinner and an enlivening talk by award-winning former Group CEO of OCBC Bank, David Conner.

The primary focus of his talk was on ITMA's theme for this year "Engaging the Board". He started things off by making it clear that while the buck stopped with the CEO, it was up to the entire C-suite, including the CIO, to be fully in sync and work as a team to support the CEO and engage the board.

He continued to stress the importance of collaborating with business decision makers in order to align technology and business objectives to support business strategy, customers, products, and delivery. Additionally, such collaboration across the various functional silos in an organisation could be crucial in providing value and seamless service to customers.

Mr Conner then turned his attention to the role of the CIO within the boardroom and the three key opportunities he has to engage the board, i.e. when requesting funding, when providing project updates, and when reporting bad news. In order to be effective and obtain approval, CIOs must be able to make a compelling case to the Board and in doing so he must communicate in a language the latter would find meaningful.

While making his case, Mr Conner pointed out that, a CIO needs to be able to demonstrate the value of proposed investments to shareholders, customers, and employees alike. Furthermore, CIOs must recognise the financial aspects of investments and remain cognisant of the potential for "runaway costs". The key is to maximise the value of all IT investments and not to splurge on every new product and gadget. Similarly, it is better to remove defects out of the current system before investing in a new one.

Mr Conner's final point on his first topic was on transparency. Although it is great if to be able to deliver on projects, it is equally important that in the event that promises are not kept the truth should not be hidden or sugar coated: "honesty is still the best policy" and transparency is key in building trust.

The recently retired Conner also took this opportunity to impart his experience on leadership. One of the key takeaways was the ignorance associated with leadership. As one rises up the corporate ladder, problems are often hidden from the leader. The onus is on the leader to be humble and listen to his people.

The dinner gave guests the rare opportunity to glean expert advice on leadership and management. One participant was curious as to how management can remain focused on maintaining and improving current systems, rather than be mesmerised by every hot new product. Mr Conner, acknowledging the difficulties of rallying towards a common objective, pointed out that OCBC was successful at implementing its processes because all the business and functional heads reported to one person – Mr Conner, himself.

We were also treated to the highlights of the upcoming ITMA CIO Executive Program & Overseas Trip (by Lai Khim of the Planning Team) to the global hub of technology and innovation: Silicon Valley. The trip will include visits to every major tech company in Silicon Valley, including Google, Dreamworks, Unity Technologies, LinkedIn and Facebook. Signup early and book your seat on the trip!

We look forward to you joining us for the next ITMA CIO Executive Programme "Engaging the Board" event on 28 June 2013 from 7pm to 10pm.

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