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CIO50 2021 #9: Michael Bullock, ANZ Bank

  • Name Michael Bullock
  • Title Chief Information Officer
  • Company ANZ Bank
  • Commenced role March 2020
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Technology Function 1859 staff, 11 direct reports
  • Mike Bullock kicked off his position as ANZ New Zealand’s CIO in March 2020 (he has been with the bank 12 years) by bringing the digital and technical functions together into one Technology NZ team. The new structure evolved to a team that is now better able to deliver world-class technology to ANZ customers as well as creating excellent career development opportunities for technologists wanting to “make a real difference to Kiwis,” he says.

    Bullock also spearheaded a new operating model by creating a more flexible, dynamic and collaborative workforce, strongly aligned with customer propositions and the wider bank’s strategy. Roles, accountabilities and decision-making authority have been clearly defined, empowering teams to deliver an optimised and transparent delivery model with measurable outcomes. 

    Open banking initiatives

    Industry collaboration and leadership has also been a strong focus for Bullock, with ANZ New Zealand rapidly scaling open banking capability to ensure the Bank will meet initial requirements for the industry-led open banking approach. As part of this, Bullock leveraged opportunities to progress initiatives to future-proof the Bank, for example, partnering with FinTechs and organisations like Middleware, to incorporate non-financial institutional learnings into how it determines, designs and delivers solutions for our customers. 

    Applying this collaborative approach to open banking, the team recently ran a smart billing pilot, ‘View Bills’, with Spark offering ANZ customers greater visibility and control of what they need to pay, and when, facilitating earlier payment of their Spark bill and reducing missed payments. Bullock says he places great emphasis on lessons learnt and paying attention to customer experiences during pilot phases, so the View Bills pilot took a phased risk and data-driven approach, opening to customers incrementally, from 1,000 to finally 30,000 customers.

    “This light-touch and collaborative approach enabled early testing, providing evidence to quantify value and inform the development of a sustainable and repeatable operating and commercial model for Spark and other billers, while paving the way for future collaborations and partnerships.  An important step towards more open banking, this was the first time a New Zealand bank offered customers a bill payment feature of this type and earned ANZ top prize at the 2021 INFINZ awards,” he says.

    Boosting technology capability

    Bullock leads a team that proactively increases network and server capability to support the Bank’s increased use of virtual desktops and virtual video conferencing. This was key in keeping the Bank running during a highly uncertain year with all 8,000 ANZ New Zealand staff well supported to continue meeting their customers’ needs while working from home, with few impacts — daily remote working and virtual desktop usage increased by 70%, from 4,100 to 7,000 (VPN and VDI) at peak. 

    Other initiatives to improve employee experience include upgrading 12,000 mailboxes onto the Microsoft Exchange Online email platform giving ANZ New Zealand’s 8,000 staff an improved mailbox and mobile experience and, the implementation of a new bank-wide collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams.

    Supporting local tech ecosystem

    As ANZ New Zealand’s CIO, Bullock says he is conscious of his role to ensure that one-third of New Zealand’s banking system is secure, highly available, equitable and delivering on their purpose to “shape a world where people and communities thrive”. He also feels a responsibility towards “team New Zealand” – fostering an ecosystem of relationships that support other New Zealand organisations for the greater good of the country. 

    Consequently, Bullock is a strong supporter of his team being industry leaders and participating as board members on industry forums such as NZ Fintech and NZ Tech, covering artificial intelligence, agri-tech, open banking, women in tech, blockchain and wealth Tech. 

    Fulfilling his desire to bring together organisations and businesses to strengthen the technology landscape in New Zealand, Bullock has also supported hosting the Tech Alliance AGM, AI Forum and other New Zealand industry engagement forums in addition to sponsoring NZ Tech Week as a festival partner since 2020 and actively participating in the New Zealand industry’s Digital ITP strategy through the Tech Alliance. 

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