December 8, 2022
James Cook University has "refreshed" its IT operating model under chief digital officer Geoff Purcell and created four new roles that it has mostly filled. Purcell told iTnews that “a series of changes” had been implemented since he joined the Far-North Queensland-based university in late 2021, aimed at improving the way the technology function runs. The new operating…

James Cook University has “refreshed” its IT operating model under chief digital officer Geoff Purcell and created four new roles that it has mostly filled.

Purcell told iTnews that “a series of changes” had been implemented since he joined the Far-North Queensland-based university in late 2021, aimed at improving the way the technology function runs.

The new operating model is intended to enhance the university’s digital workplace and digital application teams.

Purcell said the university has also embraced agile ways of working across IT domains.

“This is really about streamlining the operating model, bringing in direct accountability for end-to-end operations, and rolling out DevSecOps across the organisation,” Purcell said.

Four new roles were created under the refresh, of which three have been filled:

  • Jan Zeilinga will join as CISO from mid-January 2023. He is currently with IAG Australia, according to his LinkedIn profile
  • Felipe Duncan has been appointed as digital applications delivery partner, overseeing a team of 50-plus people, and with responsibility for the application estate and DevSecOps. He was formerly head of student digital solutions at the university, and before that led ERP platforms at the NSW Department of Education.
  • Laurent Fontaine has started as digital workplace delivery partner, responsible for “IT support services, digital infrastructure solutions, and video conferencing and audio-visual services”. He was most recently ICT team lead at consulting and research firm, Abt Associates.
  • A new head of IT quality, governance and assurance, who is yet to be named. They will ensure frameworks, compliance systems and controls are up to standard.

Purcell said that Nigel Foxwell is also now the head of strategy, architecture and innovation, a change to the ‘head of enterprise architecture, strategy and risk’ role he previously held. Foxwell has been with JCU since 2013.

Foxwell adds innovation to his remit but removes responsibility for cyber security and risk.

On the topic of cyber security, Purcell said the CISO role has been elevated in response to the current threat environment.

“The volume and the sophistication of threats has increased significantly over the past couple of years,” Purcell said.

He said that “with a relatively small team” the university wants to “focus on governance and oversight and intends to “outsource the operational components to cyber security companies that have got deep subject matter expertise in whatever aspect of cyber security that we’re going to run”.

Purcell said the changes to IT are intended to align with JCU’s corporate strategy which is currently being redeveloped.

“Making sure that digital is delivering” is vital in a post-Covid environment as “every university has gone online to a larger or smaller extent”, he said.

It was recently revealed that the university would cut about 10 percent of professional jobs. These are understood to include professional services at the university, which encompasses IT. The exact impact could not be quantified at the time of publication.

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