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Business

Sydney Opera House names CIO

The Sydney Opera House (SOH) has formally elevated an internal executive manager into its first-ever chief information officer (CIO) position after an extensive recruitment process that saw several candidates interviewed.Lindsay Kelly, SOH acting director, finance and systems, told ZDNet Australia that Claire Swaffield -- who had acted in the role since January and been with the organisation for the last three years -- had been appointed to the position full-time effective late last week.
Written by Iain Ferguson, Contributor on
The Sydney Opera House (SOH) has formally elevated an internal executive manager into its first-ever chief information officer (CIO) position after an extensive recruitment process that saw several candidates interviewed.

Lindsay Kelly, SOH acting director, finance and systems, told ZDNet Australia that Claire Swaffield -- who had acted in the role since January and been with the organisation for the last three years -- had been appointed to the position full-time effective late last week.

However, in line with SOH naming conventions, Swaffield will only use the title CIO externally, with her internal title being Director of Information Systems.

Kelly said former Optus manager Swaffield brought a "different slant" to the post than other candidates, with her thinking "a bit more outside the box than [that of] the traditional computer geek."

Her rivals were "extremely capable" in traditional information technology management roles such as business continuity, disaster recovery, data centre management and project management. However, none of them could match Swaffield's qualifications and achievements in areas such as management of a consortium -- whose partners included Opera Australia, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and the Seymour Theatre Centre -- that built a new AU$2 million ticketing system project.

The ticketing project -- known as the Unified Customer Support System (UCSS) -- is based within the SOH and was kicked off in 2004 to replace a 19-year-old system which was struggling to cope with demand. The UCSS is based on a customised product built by arts software organisation Tessitura.

Kelly -- to whom Swaffield will report -- said the new CIO would be charged with ensuring a number of "very good systems" at the SOH were exploited properly, with the customer relationship management and marketing capabilities of the UCSS a key priority.

Swaffield will continue to manage and expand the UCSS consortium.

According to an appointment e-mail signed by Kelly, Swaffield is also expected to continue to lead a "whole-of-house" IT transformation project which has seen a "troublesome" file server replaced and procurement of a fibre link to connect the Arts Exchange to the SOH. Overall, the project has -yielded significant improvements in the stability of core services," Kelly said.

She will also explore an information technology shared-services model with key business partners.

The SOH receives more than four million visitors and hosts more than 2,500 events every year.

Swaffield was appointed after what Kelly described as an "exhaustive" search process by recruitment specialist Watermark International, "which included an interview process chaired by Barbara Ward, chairperson of the risk and audit committee representing the SOH Trust."

Swaffield will also become a full member of the SOH executive team.

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