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Winners Announced For 2020 CIO Awards

IDC and Conferenz congratulate this year’s winners in the CIO Awards held tonight in Auckland. The Awards recognise the individuals and teams who have shown leadership, innovation and foresight in their contribution to ICT and business.

Winners were announced tonight at a glittering awards ceremony at Auckland’s Civic Theatre with over 600 technology leaders in attendance.

The Awards were supported by ServiceNow, Juniper Networks, ClearPoint, 2degrees, RWA Technology People, Sharp, CompTIA and Younity.

Highlights include:

Sally Copland, General Manager - Digital at Countdown named as CIO of the Year, and;

Frances Valintine named for her outstanding contribution to business and technology in New Zealand.

Winners were announced in seven categories:


CIO of the Year 2020 – Sponsored by CompTIA

WINNER: Sally Copland, General Manager – Digital, Countdown


  • Iain Gauld, CIO, Contact
  • Mandy Simpson, Chief Digital Officer, Z Energy
  • Mark Denvir, Director ICT, Auckland Council
  • Stella Ward, Chief Digital Officer, Canterbury District Health Board and West Coast District Heath Board

Outstanding Contribution to Technology and Business in New Zealand - Sponsored by Sharp

Recipient – Frances Valintine

Emerging ICT Leader of the Year 2020 – Sponsored by 2degrees

WINNER: Dr Margaret Harris, CIO, ContainerCo


  • Chris Marsh, Group Infrastructure Manager, Freightways
  • Mo Chalabi, Digital Consultant, Beca

Sustainability through Technology – Sponsored by Younity

WINNER: Southern Cross Health Society

FINALISTS: Z Energy, Genesis Energy, Tonkin + Taylor

Community Tech Champions – Sponsored by Juniper Networks

WINNER - Te Reo Irirangi o Te Hiku o Te Ika

FINALISTS: Manaaki powered by Indigo, The Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust

Best ICT Team Culture – Sponsored by RWA Technology People

WINNER: Fidelity Life

FINALISTS: Counties Manukau Health, Otago Polytechnic, Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa, Vocus

Business Transformation through Digital and IT – Sponsored by ClearPoint

WINNER: New Zealand Inland Revenue

FINALISTS: Countdown, PlaceMakers

Louise Francis, Country Manager of IDC New Zealand, applauded the winners and finalists for their outstanding achievements. “In a year of epic challenges this year's winners and finalists elevated the view of what the face of digital leadership looks like in New Zealand. The calibre of entries this year was exceptional. Each one provides many examples of how other businesses and CIO’s can emulate their successes, using innovation and a culture of challenging the status quo, to tackle the massive disruptions of today for a rapid return to growth tomorrow."

The CIO Summit and Awards is New Zealand’s premier professional development forum for senior ICT executives. More about the awards can be found at


Outstanding Contribution to Technology and Business in New Zealand - Sponsored by Sharp

Recipient – Frances Valintine

Born in rural Taranaki and headed to the bright lights of London at 17, Frances was shaped by some of the most progressive technology markets at a time when consumer technology was starting to emerge into the marketplace. She returned to New Zealand in the 1990s with a commitment to share her learnings to help leap-frog New Zealand into the future.

In 1998, when Aotearoa was still focused on traditional primary export sectors, she cut a new path for creatives and early adopters of emerging technologies. She established formal qualifications and career paths in 3D animation, Digital Media, Game development and visual effects - industries that were forming at the fringe of technology innovation.

Fifteen years later in 2013 she established The Mind Lab to upskill an entire generation of teachers in emerging digital technologies. The Mind Lab created learning labs throughout the country for school students to learn how to code, build robots, create websites, and develop computer games. The organisation's impact earned it the title of Best Start-Up in Asia Pacific as judged by Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson in 2014.

In 2016 Frances founded Tech Futures Lab, a Graduate School for professionals looking to learn contemporary skills and knowledge for the digital economy. With a suite of graduate programmes from Master of Technological Futures to postgraduate studies in Connected Environments. She has educated over 20,000 adult students in formal programmes. Many thousands more through short tech courses in software development and over 250,000 school aged students.

In addition, she has advised hundreds of New Zealand businesses in digital transformation. These businesses include some of New Zealand largest corporations, government agencies and tech start ups.

Frances is a New Zealand Flying Kiwi and a member of the NZ Hi Tech Hall of Fame. She is a Sir Peter Blake Leader, and a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her Lifetime commitment to technology and education.

She sits on multiple boards and is an advisor to the BNZ Bank. She is a selection adviser to the Edmund Hillary Foundation which brings extraordinary international talent to New Zealand as entrepreneurs and investors. She is a long-standing judge for the Hi Tech Awards, and a mentor to female technology leaders in New Zealand and in India. She is a Director, with 8 other female leaders, of On Being Bold, a platform to support and encourage emerging female leaders and Year 13 students to dream big. She is also a proud mum of four young adults and a relentless advocate for encouraging greater diversity in tech.

Her immense impact on so many New Zealand businesses, students and professionals make her an exemplary recipient for this year's award.

CIO of the Year 2020 – Sponsored by CompTIA

WINNER: Sally Copland, General Manager – Digital, Countdown

Sally Copland is the General Manager – Digital at Countdown. Copland saw the importance of setting the strategic priority of becoming a leading digital retailer. She created CountdownX, the supermarket's digital and data driven portfolio, by bringing eCommerce, loyalty, direct marketing, and IT together, and significantly bolstered internal digital technology capabilities. By showing the digital strategy's alignment and benefits for the broader Woolworths Group and being clear on resourcing and investment requirements, the initiative gained support from higher management of the Woolworths Group.

The CountdownX team is central to the retailer's strategy and were a critical element of Countdown’s swift response to the COVID-19 challenges, and its revamped Countdown app offers a personalised shopping experience and keeps customers engaged. Under Copland's leadership, Countdown's online business has grown significantly and is now one of the largest grocery retail sites in New Zealand.

NZ Emerging ICT Leader of the Year 2019 – Sponsored by 2degrees

WINNER: Dr. Margaret Harris, CIO, ContainerCo

Dr Margaret Harris is the CIO of ContainerCo. In this role, Harris, conceived of, developed, and implemented ContainerCo's 'Grid' logistics management solution. Project Grid automates the movement of empty containers from terminals as a service for shipping companies, a task that ContainerCo was performing manually. Harris leveraged the company's existing data streams to create efficiencies by matching loads of containers to trucks leaving with a load. As a result, truck utilisation improved, fewer trucks transited through ContainerCo's gates, and the company could move more containers in a shorter time span. Harris established digital training opportunities for ContainerCo employees and she advocates for technology adoption in small and medium-sized logistics businesses.

Community Tech Champions – Sponsored by Juniper Networks

WINNER: Te Reo Irirangi o Te Hiku o Te Ika

Te Reo Irirangi o Te Hiku o Te Ika, also known as Te Hiku Media, works to conserve the Māori language. Te Hiku Media's long-running project, Papa Reo, is a research program that began with the idea "to teach computers te reo Māori". Papa Reo aims to develop a multilingual platform for natural language processing and machine learning (ML) tools. The project focuses on making AI and ML language processing tools accessible for Māori and Pasifika languages. Te Hiku Media's work is vital for language conservation in the digital age.

Best ICT Team Culture – Sponsored by RWA Technology People

WINNER: Fidelity Life

Fidelity Life is the country's largest locally owned and operated life insurer. Recently Fidelity Life has undertaken major changes in processes and culture. The company has made the move from an antiquated and conservative organisation to one implementing agile working and culture programmes for a collaborative culture that encourages innovation.

A company-wide culture programme was created to demonstrate how people's behaviour makes a difference and measure the impact on the business. Other components of Fidelity Life's new team culture include a personalised talent management programme with access to external coaches, encouragement of volunteer work, flexible working, and an Accessibility Tick.

Business Transformation through Digital and IT – Sponsored by ClearPoint

WINNER: New Zealand Inland Revenue

Te Tari Taake, New Zealand Inland Revenue, plays a prominent role in providing economic and social wellbeing for around 3 million New Zealanders each year. In a multi-stage digital transformation, Inland Revenue has successfully transformed New Zealand’s revenue system by automating the process of collecting and distributing money to the population. This saves considerable time and costs for individual customers, employers, businesses, and government services. The deployment of its START technology platform has enabled a seamless integration of all tax and social policy products - a world first for a revenue organization.

Sustainability through Technology – Sponsored by Younity

WINNER: Southern Cross Health Society

Southern Cross Health Society quickly adapted to the changing health landscape brought about by COVID-19 by utilising and implementing their digital strategy. Ensuring their members were at the forefront of their response, they pledged $50million to help customers through this time. Each member received a credit as a percentage of their premium, and members who lost work were offered policy freezes. Their strong digital policy enabled Southern Cross Health Society to deliver this promise quickly and effectively, maintaining strong customer relationships.

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