Suncorp tech head Jeff Smith quits for IBM

After seven years with Suncorp, Jeff Smith has called it quits to take up a senior role with IBM.

The man who spearheaded Suncorp Group's AU$275 million IT simplification program when he held the position as CIO, Jeff Smith, has announced his resignation today after accepting a senior global executive role based in the United States with tech giant IBM. 

During his time as CIO — before being appointed to the role as chief executive officer of Suncorp Business Services — Smith led the company in standardising its desktop fleet , consolidating its back-office infrastructure, such as datacentres and mainframes, and migrating the firm to IP telephony-based telecommunications. The results of his efforts were evident when the group reported a AU$780 million net profit after tax for the 2010 financial year. 

Prior to joining Suncorp, Smith served as the CIO of Australia's largest telco, Telstra, for three years to March 2005 . During his time there, Smith pushed the cause of open-source software within the company, and oversaw the ongoing integration and consolidation of Telstra's internal IT systems.  

Current CIO, Matt Pancino will take over Smith's CEO position of Suncorp Business Services. Prior to joining Suncorp, Pancino has held senior executive roles in technology and operations with Telstra and Perpetual.

Suncorp Group CEO Patrick Snowball said Smith had made a significant contribution during his seven years at Suncorp, and his appointment to a leading technology company was testament to his skill and leadership.

"Jeff's strong and inspirational leadership qualities have ensured we have exceptional talent within Suncorp Business Services. This has allowed a smooth succession plan involving the promotion of Matt Pancino to the CEO role within our shared services function. Matt is well-qualified executive with a proven track record. I'm delighted with his appointment," he said.

"I'm saddened to see Jeff leave but I am pleased for him and proud that his work in helping us build a world-class shared services function at Suncorp has garnered the attention of a global technology company."

Smith will officially finish up in August, but a Suncorp Group spokesperson told ZDNet that his departure will follow a holiday he will shortly take and then return to transition his role through July. The holiday was planned six months ago. 

The Suncorp Group spokesperson also said the company is expected to "work through" the current CIO responsibilities within the next week, not confirming whether the CIO role would remain.

The announcement comes just over a fortnight since Suncorp Group announced Project Ignite , where the firm plans to dedicate an estimated AU$270 million to changing its bank's core banking system by 30 June 2016.

In conjunction to Ignite, Suncorp Group plans to move into the cloud to build a more agile environment that will enable it to speed up its product delivery processes.

"We feel we are very well placed to deliver this program because we have been delivering large scale transformations for well over five years," said Pancino at the Suncorp Group Investor Day.

"We've talked at lengths about our building blocks program and our legacy simplification program — we know we have the talent, the capability, and experience to do what it takes to execute a program like this."

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