Rich pickings

Like the vast majority of people holding up the bottom end of the Australian economic pyramid, I always get a vicarious thrill out of reading the BRW Rich 200 List and finding out just how much money the people at the pointy end are hoarding.One of the more heartening elements of this year's list is a resurgence of proof that it may be possible to get rich through technology.

Like the vast majority of people holding up the bottom end of the Australian economic pyramid, I always get a vicarious thrill out of reading the BRW Rich 200 List and finding out just how much money the people at the pointy end are hoarding.

One of the more heartening elements of this year's list is a resurgence of proof that it may be possible to get rich through technology.

In the late 1990s, the Rich 200 was overloaded with dot com millionaires, all of whom promptly disappeared after the 2000 crash. However, there's a handful of individuals this time around who can fairly credit at least some of their wealth to technology nous, or at least technology investments.

Australia's richest man, James Packer, makes a pretty packet out of the ninemsn co-venture with Microsoft. PC sales through Harvey Norman are a key element in Gerry Harvey's $1.5 billion fortune, and his co-founder Ian Norman doesn't look too shabby on $680 million.

Nor does his ex-wife, Lynette Harvey, who is valued by BRW at $200 million. John Ilhan, owner of the Crazy John's chain, is worth $300 million, and Com Tech founder David Shein is sitting atop $196 million.

My favourite example, however, is Penelope Maclagan, who is worth an estimated $141 million, due largely to a 2.3 percent stake in share registry company Computershare, founded by her brother Chris Morris. Despite that huge wad of cash, she continues in an IT executive role, serving as the CEO for integration after a long stint as global CIO.

In an era where CIOs are expected to spend more time worrying about business issues than technical detail, Maclagan also has a refreshingly different attitude.

"As an IT manager you cannot ignore the technical; you must surround yourself with quality technical people to ensure decisions, expensive ones at that, are the right ones and consider all factors," she told the magazine.

Another useful quote to pin on your manager's door.

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