Westpac loses McKinnon deputy Sarv Girn


blog The fallout from the reshuffle at Westpac continued today, with the Financial Review breaking the news that senior IT executive Sarv Girn would quit the bank in search of a chief information officer role elsewhere. According to the AFR, the executive was disappointed he lost out on the recently vacated Westpac CIO role to internal rival Clive Whincup, but also sees Westpac as shifting out of its IT transformational phase. The newspaper quotes Girn (behind its paywall):

“… the group is moving towards more of an efficient structure, whereas I prefer to work as a transformational CIO, driving change.”

Girn may have been disappointed to lose out on the CIO role, but my own opinion is that he was never really a contender. Sure, Girn was seen by many as outgoing CIO Bob McKinnon’s second in charge, and his formal title is group general manager of enterprise technology services. However, his strength has always been his technical prowess and knowledge of IT architecture, stemming from his history as CommBank CTO and Westpac CTO and chief information security officer.

The CIO role in a major bank is a political role more than a leadership or technical role, and while Girn is clearly one of Australia’s top IT executives, I’ve never thought of him as having the ruthlessness that a top-tier bank CIO role requires. This, in my opinion, is actually a good thing. It makes him a nicer person. Girn brings a rarer set of skills to the table than an executive like Whincup possesses, and I think he’ll find his feet in a role that will be interesting to him fairly quickly.