Home' Defence Magazine : Defence Magazine Issue 2, 2108 Contents 25
Issue 2 2018 Defence
STEPHEN Pearson says he has learnt a lot of leadership lessons over the years and the
main one in his view is resilience.
“ We are in a long game here,” he says.
“I’ve been tested already as you would expect in such a big role.
“I’m also a St Kilda supporter ... need I say more?
“I think it is important to keep your sense of humour, keep fit and don’t forget the
big picture – why you are here.”
He says it’s very easy to be caught up in the volume of day-to-day issues and to
lose sight of the end game.
“You have to prioritise and then really focus on the things that are the most
important. There’s always more to do, more coming, more improvements that can
be made and that’s okay, that’s pretty normal. Whatever you decide are your most
important priorities really execute them well, they’re the game changers, they’re the
differences you’re going to make.
“I think you always need to have empathy for people who are involved with you
when you are pushing for a change agenda,” he says.
“Empathy for your fellow man is incredibly important but you need the staying
power and complete laser-like focus on what the end game is as opposed to the steps
you’re in with it.
“I have had a couple of bosses who have been very helpful in advising me to avoid
the noise and focus on your end game as the noise will always be there.”
His most important advice relates to people.
“Get to know your people on a good individual level,” he says. “I have found people
have a lot more to offer and give than the tasks they may be performing in their role,
you need to know and encourage them to use their full capabilities.”
“This is definitely one of my key priorities.
“The ERP drives that one way of working agenda
which will need a lot of active defence,” he says.
“The Enterprise Information Management
program will also draw together huge amounts of
siloed repositories of data to have a much more
coherent way of accessing, using and analysing
information to support Defence decision making.”
Stephen says while processes and technology are
important to the reform strategy, people should not be
“High on my list of priorities is to make sure
whatever technology enabled solutions we put in
place, we remember the people this is all very new to.
They have to be well trained and supported through
that change journey, both during and after those
solutions are put in place – that’s a big part of the
CIOG remit I’m driving here.”
His focus will also be around arguably the biggest
issue in the ICT environment, cyber security.
“We have to be clear and consistent about
the cyber security strategy we have across the
organisation as a whole,” he says.
“We need to really educate people about their
accountabilities to be cyber aware and what they need
to do every day so there is a lot of education required
there, not just more technology.
“The other job on my extensive to do list
surrounds our Five Eyes partners.
“As a group we really need to address our
interoperability challenges and look at a much more
integrated approach to how we share information at a
secret or top secret level.
“Information management is a key component of
our joint Defence capability.”
Stephen is under no illusion of the task ahead,
but is confident the skills and experience he gathered
during his long career in the private sector will hold
him in good stead during this period of change.
“I am not a deep technology guy and originally
come from a more business background as a
chartered accountant. My career path to date has been
as a CIO driving large transformation agendas. I like
delving into how we can best use technology to drive
the business transformation that is required,” he says.
“Technology has a role and purpose but it’s not
the end game. It’s an enabler of our business and we
should never forget that.
“It’s equally important to deliver well on the
projects we are accountable for and to be able to
sustain them well into the future - these are massive
investments we are making. The new capabilities we
are delivering are wonderful things, involving a huge
amount of the Commonwealth’s money. I certainly
don’t take that lightly.”
Another thing he does not take lightly is the
enormity of his remit as CIO.
“I have been the CIO of organisations that have
a much larger global footprint organisationally, but
they don’t have the scale Defence has across its
personnel numbers, the number of bases we operate
from and the levels we operate across – top secret,
secret, unclassified networks across strategic and
“I think ICT is undersold. It is a huge capability to
be tapped if applied well.”
Ignore the noise
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