Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Business leaders call for business-savvy IT grads

Media release 29 October 2008

Business leaders call for business-savvy IT graduates

A challenge has gone out to IT education providers to produce graduates who are business savvy as well as technologically literate.

The challenge was issued by chief financial officers and chief information officers at a roundtable discussion on the future of finance and IT, hosted by specialist recruitment company Robert Half.

The 11 participants, including senior executives from several business sectors, said the relationship between finance and technology was undergoing a fundamental shift.

IT was now more than just a tool to automate financial accounting functions - it had become an integral part of every aspect of business.

That meant IT professionals needed to understand not just the technical implications of their decisions, but also the business ramifications, they said, especially at senior executive level.

If CIOs wanted their role to have the same status as that of CFOs, they had to be able to speak the language of business, said Pieter Bakker, CIO of Ports of Auckland. "To really participate at the executive table and the board table, you really need to speak the language of business, you really need to understand the business ... being able to participate at an equal level in terms of business strategy development."

Kelvin Wong, CFO of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, said senior finance executives faced a similar change in emphasis. "The jump from IT manager to CIO is the same as the jump from chief accountant to CFO - it's all about strategy and people and direction of the business rather than about debits and credits or bits and bytes. That's the gulf."

But participants said that while finance professionals were immersed in business throughout their careers, constantly focusing on profit and loss, that was not the case with IT professionals.

IT professionals started out by focusing on IT - exposure to the business view happened much later in their career path. IT was also a much younger industry, still lacking the over-arching professional organisation and career development of finance and accounting.

The challenge for the education sector was to encourage more IT students to take a business focus, combining business and technology in their qualifications, said the participants. Although some institutions, such as AUT University, offered conjoint finance and technology degrees, that combination was not yet popular.

Judith McKay, GM - Finance & Resources at AUT University said she had been told by AUT's Dean of Business that the university was revamping its business and IT qualifications for business students.

"We intend to replacing the existing IT and eBusiness majors with a new business information systems major, which better matches the needs of the students and industry. The intention is not to train students for the IT industry, but rather IT-savvy graduates for business."

Steve McGowan, division manager with Robert Half Technology in Auckland, said he had seen increasing demand from employers for intermediate to senior candidates who understood business and technology equally well.

The finance and IT industries faced another similar challenge, the participants said. Not every technical specialist wanted to be promoted to CIO or CFO level, where they must take a generalist's view. One answer, for both industries, was to develop dual career paths - one leading to technical speciality, with remuneration that genuinely rewarded individuals for their true benefit to the business, the other leading down a generalist management track.

Terry McLaughlin, CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, said the issue of technology and education was a crucial one. "New Zealand's single biggest economic problem is labour market productivity and the solution is education and technology, so it's vital really. That's the only thing that's going to get us up the OECD rankings."

Participants at the 2008 Robert Half Roundtable discussion were: Megan Alexander Senior Manager, Robert Half International; David Alley GM - Finance and Corporate Services, Competenz; Pieter Bakker CIO, Ports of Auckland Ltd; Mark Benjamin CFO, Excell Corporation Ltd; David Ingram CFO, Zeacom Ltd; Steve McGowan Division Manager, Robert Half Technology; Judith McKay GM - Finance & Resources, AUT University; Terry McLaughlin CEO, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants; Martyn Seddon GM - Information Systems, Turners and Growers Ltd; Kelvin Wong CFO, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants; Simeon Wright CFO, Dystance NZ Ltd.

Copies of the resulting White Paper, "Where will technology take accounting and finance in the next five years?" can be ordered free of charge at


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Statistics New Zealand: COVID-19 Sees Record 12.2 Percent Fall In New Zealand’s Economy

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2 percent in the June 2020 quarter, the largest quarterly fall recorded since the current series began in 1987, as the COVID-19 restrictions in place through the quarter impacted economic activity, Stats NZ said ... More>>


Climate: Scientists Release ‘Blueprint’ To Save Critical Ecosystems And Stabilize The Earth’s Climate

A group of scientists and experts produced the first comprehensive global-scale analysis of terrestrial areas essential for biodiversity and climate resilience, totaling 50.4% of the Earth's land. The report was published in Science Advances ... More>>


MPI: Independent Review Launched Into Assurances For Safe Transport Of Livestock By Sea

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has launched an independent review of the assurances it receives for the safe transport of livestock by sea. MPI Director-General Ray Smith says Mike Heron QC has been appointed to lead the review, which is expected ... More>>


Computers: New Zealand PC Market Grows Nearly 40% Due To Work From Home Demand

COVID-19 had large impacts on demand for PCs as businesses prepared for lockdowns by purchasing notebooks to mobilise their workforce. In the second quarter of 2020, New Zealand's Traditional PC market experienced a 39.7% year-on-year (YoY) growth ... More>>


Mediaworks: Reaches Agreement To Sell TV Operations To Discovery, Inc.

New Zealand’s largest independent commercial broadcaster MediaWorks and the global leader of real-life entertainment Discovery Inc. (“Discovery”) are pleased to announce they have reached a binding agreement regarding the sale of MediaWorks’ ... More>>


Ministry of Health: Public Transport Distancing Requirements Relaxed

Physical distancing requirements on public transport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Health to determine whether they are still required at Alert Level 2 (or below). The Ministry’s assessment is that mandatory face covering and individuals tracking ... More>>


NZHIA: New Zealand Hemp Industry Set To Generate $2 Billion Per Annum And Create 20,000 Jobs

A new report says a fully enabled hemp industry could generate $2 billion in income for New Zealand by 2030, while also creating thousands of new jobs. Written by industry strategist Dr Nick Marsh, the report has prompted calls from the New Zealand Hemp ... More>>


Stats NZ: One In 14 Employed People Report High Risk Of Losing Jobs

About one in 14 workers say they expect to lose their job or business by mid-2021, Stats NZ said today. A survey of employed people in the June 2020 quarter showed 7 percent felt there was a high or almost certain chance of losing their job or business ... More>>

ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast: NZ Economy Doing Better Than Expected, But Challenges Remain

August lockdown estimated to have shaved 8% off NZ’s weekly GDP, and 0.5% off annual GDP Economy now expected to shrink 5% (year-on-year) by end of 2020 Unemployment rate now expected to peak at 7.2% The latest ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast is less ... More>>


SAFE: Live Export Ship Carrying 5,800 New Zealand Cows Goes Missing In East China Sea

Livestock carrier Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress signal at 4:45am NZT yesterday in the East China Sea. The area is affected by Typhoon Maysak. At 4pm a patrol plane spotted a lifeboat - with no people in it - and a man in lifejacket nearby. The ship ... More>>


FMA: Kiwisaver Fees Don't Match Performance

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) today published an independent report into the passive and active investment management styles [i] used by KiwiSaver providers. The FMA commissioned MyFiduciary to test the extent that KiwiSaver providers were ... More>>