CIO McKinnon steps back from Westpac top role

news A new organisation structure at Westpac means Bob McKinnon, who directed the rebuilding of technology capability as its IT chief, is stepping back from a major role in the bank.

McKinnon moves from a full-time Group Executive role to Enterprise Executive of the newly created Group Services division, with the responsibility of senior oversight. The reshuffle is part of Westpac’s initiative to become Australia’s leading financial services organisation.

McKinnon will report to John Arthur, Westpac Group’s new Chief Operating Officer, who will also lead the new Group Services division. Group Services covers banking operations, technology, legal and property services. The division aims to be a centre of excellence for productivity and bring critical support functions together.

Announcing the new organisation structure yesterday, Gail Kelly, Westpac Chief Executive Officer described McKinnon and Arthur as seasoned executives with a reputation for delivering strong commercial outcomes. “Over the past three years, they have worked closely together on a wide range of critical projects including IT transformation, merger integration, our Strategic Investment Priorities Portfolio and more recently our new sourcing plans,” Kelly said.

The other newly formed division is Australian Financial Services (AFS), which encompasses BT Financial Group, Westpac Retail & Business Banking, St. George Banking Group, and Banking Products and Risk Management. Brian Hartzer, currently the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Chief Executive Officer UK Retail, Wealth and Ulster Bank, will lead this division starting in 2012.

McKinnon, a chartered accountant by training, had been appointed Westpac’s Chief Information Officer in July 2008. He has served in many senior positions with National Australia Bank’s MLC and Lend Lease, along with running State Street’s Australian operations. He held the positions of CFO and then Joint Managing Director of Multiplex between 2006 and 2008, after more than half a decade overseeing the IT operations of Westpac’s rival – the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Last October, McKinnon spoke about the extent of the IT division shake-up in Westpac upon his appointment as CIO, during which most people in the department’s top executive positions were replaced and hundreds of employees made redundant. McKinnon has also steered an extensive remediation program over the past three years, to fix the infrastructure and cut down on severity one incidents, which were happening at the rate of 30 per month in 2007. Severity one outages are those which have no immediate solution and affect the bank’s ability to do efficient business.

McKinnon’s teams had replaced old technology and remediated the bank’s storage area network in a two-year program with IBM. All the bank’s IP addresses were rationalised to remove the excessive numbers of duplicates. The results have been evident in a reduction of the severity one quota to an average of three incidents a month in the last quarter.

As part of Westpac’s IT strategy, McKinnon had also revamped the company’s relationships with its partners including IBM, VMWare, Microsoft, Telstra, EMC, Cisco, Oracle and Optus.

Kelly explained, “The changes I am announcing today provide the Westpac Group with the structure to take the Group to the next stage of its strategic journey with the highest quality team of financial services executives.”

Image credit: Westpac


  1. I always appreciate a good IT turnaround story but in this case I wonder if something was left out leading to the change announced here today.

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