CIO Profile: Paul Young of Ausenco

Meet Paul Young, CIO of the Ausenco Group, and learn why he believes being a CIO is not so much about the technology but about innovation and the people.

 

Headquartered in Brisbane, the Ausenco group of companies operates across 13 countries around the world. The group has delivered some of the most complex and challenging projects around the world, to a broad global client base ranging from leading multinationals to mid-level and junior resource companies. Ausenco provides engineering, project management and operations solutions to the global resources, energy and process infrastructure industries.

It also acquires companies, with a tally of three companies in the last 12 months. Charged with providing the IT infrastructure platform and support services to allow the company to operate in diverse geographical and remote areas is Paul Young, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the Ausenco Group.

Young’s background has prepared him well for the challenges of keeping up with an acquisitive CEO and being able to provide the services necessary in locations such as Indonesia, South America and South Africa, sometimes at very short notice.

He enjoyed a great grounding in innovation working with the Distributed Systems Technology (DSTC) CRC in Queensland who were a major contributor to the MPEG-4 standards.

“It was inspiring to work with these pre-eminent people and I learnt a lot from these innovators. This IT think tank allowed us the intellectual freedom to step back and consider a problem.”

Young then spent five years at Graeme Wood’s start-up company, Wotif, building the technology stack with a team of leading-edge developers and business analysts. Wotif has successfully listed and sells accommodation online in 45 countries.

Young also prescribes to Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson’s (the author of ‘software for your brain’) more positive way of thinking of a problem. Hewitt-Gleeson’s ‘CVS2BVS’, which translates to the current view of the situation versus the better view of the situation, resonates with Young.

So there is no real surprise that Young takes a philosophical view of IT with an equal weighting on people, processes and technology. “It can’t be weighted unequally to any of those factors if you want IT to be the engine of business agility.”

With around 2400 employees in the group, Young has 60 in his team spread across the globe. And Ausenco recognises the role IT plays with Young having a seat at the executive management table.

Uncertainty is his friend when it comes to innovation as he doesn’t believe in being too comfortable and maintaining the status quo. He is of the strong view there are significant opportunities to change the existing paradigm in project delivery in the metals and minerals, infrastructure, energy, oil and gas sectors.

Young has identified some challenges ahead. These are keeping up with a dynamic and acquisitive CEO; virtualising and transforming the infrastructure and services to provide the business agility required; integrating and distributing services to provide a strong pervasive collaboration platform within Ausenco and to the company’s valued clients.

In addition, he will continue collaborative efforts with Ausenco’s strategic vendors such as Microsoft, VMware, Cisco, Citrix and Oracle to provide innovative solutions in project delivery (web, global data persistence, application delivery and cost-effective deployment).

One of the most pressing IT tasks Young tackled when he joined the company was improving the disaster recovery strategy and while doing this he thought why not improve the rest of IT at the same time. Disaster recovery provided the catalyst for change with virtualisation just one of the goals. Virtualisation of the Australian region data centre has resulted in 72 servers being reduced to 12 servers and five racks have been collapsed down to two racks. Cisco Nexus switches have been deployed to provide a unified fabric at the data/application layer, Avamar data deduplication technology to minimise the traffic between data centres and tiered storage has been used to reduce ongoing costs.

Layer 8 of the network is the people and Young recognises that, to embrace change in the transformation process, people need to receive the correct training. “The technology part is not so difficult; it is the change process and the change management that determines the success of initiatives.”

 

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