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The CIO as the ultimate insider

Divina Paredes | Dec. 18, 2012
Kevin Angland, CIO of IAG New Zealand, has the distinctive experience of working across most areas of the insurance industry.

Gaining new skills is a key theme in Angland's career, whether within or outside the organisation.

In the mid-1990s, Angland felt that he had spent a large part of his career in one organisation, and made the critical decision to take up a master's in business administration. "It was partly driven by a learning desire, partly driven by a desire to network outside the organisation."

He enrolled at the University of Auckland and found himself joining a "broad blend" of professionals including those from finance and accounting, medicine, law, operations and transport.

It gave me that certain breadth of experience and breadth of exposure that I felt was missing, having worked in most of my career inside one organisation," he says. "That breadth of exposure gave you different perspectives."

Having a "very accommodating CEO" allowed him to work full-time while finishing his degree. Every fortnight, he spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the course, and this went on for nearly two years.

He says IAG also provides this type of support for people who would like to go on a similar executive education. He says some members of his IT team are preparing to do an MBA and IAG is providing support by "creating the capacity for people to take time out" for study.

He found it advantageous to continue working while completing his MBA. "Continuing to work through that gave you good context for the study that you were doing, so when it came to write case studies or to present, you had real life examples going on in the workplace at the same time, you didn't lose that connection."

Juggling multiple commitments during those years also prepared him as he took on more senior roles. "I probably couldn't see myself doing it another way," he says on not cutting back work commitments while studying. "It enriches the learning experience, to have to deal with work, home and study" that he says is being faced by executives.

"You are always being asked to balance your commitments so creating capacity to do that during an MBA is preparing you to deal with those multiple demands."

"Part of the MBA philosophy is working as a group, and trusting your peers and colleagues. I can't imagine in this organisation as a CIO if you couldn't work like that you would just drown, you would absolutely drown. There is too much happening."

Cycle of leadership

For the past three years, Angland has been wearing another hat at IAG. He is part of an internal coaching programme, having received training and certification to coach staff across the organisation.

He says it is similar to a mentoring programme, but the preference is to work with someone in another business unit.


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