Technologists under-represented in leadership positions: Calastone study

13 Aug 2017

While technologists in executive leadership roles at ASX and NZX firms have more than quadrupled in five years, they remain under-represented in over half of firms.

13 August 2017 – SYDNEY: Calastone, the global funds transaction network and fintech company, has released what it believed to be the first study into the representation of career technologists in executive leadership across Australia and New Zealand, revealing potential management blind spots.

While the number of technologists in leadership roles has risen sharply in large publicly listed firms across the region, less than half were at the executive level, with zero at board level, the study found.

Applying the presence of technologists at the executive level within firms as a proxy for their ability to cope with change, the Calastone study shows:

  • 40.4% of ASX-listed companies (S&P/ASX100) have a technologist in an executive leadership position, compared to 45% of NZX-listed firms (S&P/NZX20). Representation has risen sharply since 2011, from 7.4% in Australia and 10% in New Zealand.
  • Australia’s financial and consumer discretionary sectors showed greatest representation, each representing 20 per cent of all technologists in senior leadership roles in Australia.
  • New Zealand’s finance and energy sectors showed the greatest technology leadership inclusion, with least representation in price point focused media and tourism & leisure sectors.

Sarah Hayward, Managing Director of Calastone Australia and New Zealand, commented on the findings: “The rising number of technologists in executive leadership roles is encouraging, but this needs to accelerate for firms and industries to devise sustainable future business models.”

“The relative absence of technologists in executive leadership roles compared to professionals from accountancy and legal backgrounds, presents a potential gap in capabilities and culture for firms challenged in navigating technological driven change,” she said.

Hayward highlights the Australasian financial services sector as being ripe for technological disruption.

“For the managed funds segment, the scale and speed at which new technologies such as blockchain, robo-advice and machine learning are challenging business models makes adding technologists to strategic levels a corporate imperative,” she said.

“The industry has much to learn from other sectors including banking, music and retail in reassessing the structures, people and partners required to adapt and drive future competitiveness.”

The report also highlighted Australia’s pro-technology stance, through regulatory concessions and cross-border cooperative agreements, as creating more opportunities for company technologists to collaborate, as executive leaders, with boards, policy makers and industry leaders.

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About the Study

Calastone undertook its own proprietary research to understand representation of career technologists in Australia and New Zealand. Calastone analysed the board, leadership and management composition of companies listed on the S&P/ASX100 and S&P/NSX20 exchanges as at January 2017. Calastone analysed published company data in the form of Annual Report and Accounts, corporate websites and other public information sources to compile this research. A small number of organisations were excluded from this study, where company data was not published/publicly available or the organisation followed a non-traditional business structure, e.g. investment trust or similar.

 

The study recognised leadership at three levels:

  • Board: Those who are on the official board of the company
  • Leadership: Those who are part of the executive leadership team
  • Senior Management: Those with senior job titles, and were not part of the published executive leadership team or board

“Technologist” refers to company personnel with evidenced specialist experience in IT and technology disciplines, essentially career technologists.

 

 

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