An interview with Grant Slender


Sainsbury: What are your top IT priorities for the next 12-18 months?


Slender: To consolidate IT services into shared group services; build the next generation social-orientated customer servicing platform; and become more agile in delivery, deployment and development.


Sainsbury: As a challenger bank, what strategic investments in technology can be made to maintain competitive advantages?


Slender: Being nimble and flexible is one of our core advantages – offering the same with technology, removing layers of complexity and offering ‘light’ services, is key.


Sainsbury: Bank of Queensland maintains a unique franchise model for its retail branches. How can IT be leveraged to maximise opportunities with this branch network?


Slender: It can be leveraged by keeping IT consistent and deployable in atomic components, focusing on what we do best and keeping organisational weight to a minimum. Also, by offering choices that are relevant for small business, but robust and dependable for the enterprise.


Sainsbury: BOQ’s new retail head, Matt Baxby, has set some aggressive growth targets for the bank. What role will IT play in reaching these targets?


Slender: Online will be a key enabler for growth, and technology is a key part of any push into furthering the online agenda. Having an integrated sales and services solution unlocks this potential even further.


Sainsbury: What role do you see Cloud computing playing at Bank of Queensland going forward?


Slender:  Cloud will become more relevant as the industry in general matures and better understands this service offering. Like all disruptive technologies, it must progress past the hype to become truly broadly accepted. We will continue to review the relevancy within the finance landscape.


Sainsbury: BOQ’s BYOD policy is designed to introduce greater flexibility and support for your mobile staff. What returns have you seen from this initiative to date?

Slender:  It has been a fantastic success and we have seen broad uptake across all levels: most staff are being more productive and IT support demands are within expectations. We are continuously looking at ways to better enhance and expand the service as mobile technology and security evolves.


Sainsbury: What have you found to be the most effective techniques for fostering a culture of innovation within your team?


Slender:  Innovation is itself defined as ‘ideas executed’ so really you need to be accepting of any concept and see if it can be implemented. The culture of fast-fail and learning what works and what doesn’t is really there to foster innovation. Having the capacity to allow for self-directed projects is another key cultural attribute.


Sainsbury: How do you see the role of an IT leader within financial services evolving in the near future?


Slender:  IT leadership is broadly shifting from managing computers, networks and datacentres to driving business outcomes, with technology as one of many organisational enablers. Financial services really just requires a lot more of this, more often and frankly doesn’t allow for anything less.


Sainsbury: What do you see as the most effective strategies for financial services to adopt when approaching customer engagement through social media?


Slender:  Difficult question, as essentially social media isn’t a technology problem – it is another business channel and, like email or the internet when they first arrived, it needs to be a part of the business ecosystem and engagement model. Like all technology challenges, we need to map a path for enablement in a way that is safe, secure and reliable for our business models to grow onto and around. That platform needs to be solid and core so that business strategy can then be executed.


Sainsbury: Every IT leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they would like to be remembered for. What is yours?


Slender:  Being passionate about the things I care about and strong enough to stand up for the things that I believe in.


Related links:


An Interview with Chris Nilon, Group Executive IT and Operations, Bank of Queensland