Strong science and research departments are the two things that drew Peter Nikoletatos from his role as chief information officer at Curtin University to his new position as the director of Information Services with the Australian National University (ANU). Nikoletatos spoke to ZDNet Australia about his plans for ANU, and discussed his Curtin replacement.
(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)
"ANU is a very exciting opportunity, because it is one of the most pre-eminent research institutions. Its reputation precedes it, and I obviously knew about it, coming from Curtin. It's very, very exciting," Nikoletatos said in a phone interview yesterday. He added that his interest in research flourished at Curtin, where he tried to expand the university's capabilities.
"I think one of the things where I began to focus my efforts at Curtin was in the research capability, and that's something that I think appealed to ANU; that I had a strong interest in that, given that the university had a very strong research intensity. My appreciation of the tools around teaching and learning space and learning management systems also complemented that."
Nikoletatos hopes to bring the same focus on innovation and IT-transformation projects that he had at Curtin University to ANU, by improving business analytics, as well as the teaching and learning environments.
"[I want to] use the notion of putting the 'I' back into CIO. Being very clear about the information side and the value of it is a critical piece of intellectual property to the university. What are the sort of constraints of making that [information] easy to access and improve business analytics? That means you start looking at your corporate environment, and you try and identify areas that are duplicated, and you think, 'how can I provide scale and speed to these?'," the CIO said. He said that ultimately, his role at ANU is different to his previous roles, and he will treat it as such, rather than rolling out an innovation template wherever he goes.
"There are going to be some similarities [in my work], but ANU is different to Curtin and different to Newcastle [University]; it does some things very well, and it's probably got some opportunities in areas where I could actually add some value.
"The service-delivery model can be streamlined a bit, and it's a little more complex than it needs to be. That means looking at our processes a little bit more carefully, looking at some of the technologies in play and consolidating where that makes sense, but equally making decisions around what makes sense and deciding what's sustainable for the university going forward," he said.
Nikoletatos is keen to ensure that enterprise architecture plays a strong role at ANU to benefit the university's teaching and learning environments, as well as its research projects. He added that he would make sure that students who come to the university to learn will have the connected tools to be able to do that.
Curtin University executive officer Ian Hill has temporarily stepped into Nikoletatos' old role until a replacement can be found. Nikoletatos is confident in the team he left behind, and knows that they will get on with what needs to be done.
"We had a very well-documented 2012 program of works. Ian was part of my leadership team, and he's there in an interim role. The university understands that the structure of the succession plan there and [recognises] that nothing's going to fall over anytime soon, and that everyone's got very clear roles and responsibilities.
"In the interim, they've got a very strong leadership team in the Curtin IT Services group. They're united, they know what they've got to do and it's a matter of continuing on with that," he said.
During his tenure with Curtin, Nikoletatos developed strong relationships with tier-one suppliers, and encouraged enterprises around Australia to emulate the model his team put in place to deal with students bringing their own devices to class.