#Commonwealth Ombudsman

Jade Carson on leading a technology strategy amidst COVID-19

Jade Carson, Chief Information Officer at Commonwealth Ombudsman on leading a strategic technological journey amidst COVID-19

Jade Carson
Commonwealth Ombudsman

Chief Information Officer at Commonwealth Ombudsman

Propelled into the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Commonwealth Ombudsman, Jade Carson’s brief was to shape the next stage of its strategic technology journey.

Four months later, with the public service facing one of the most disruptive events in its history, she found herself playing a central role in the Ombudsman’s pandemic response.

“It meant shifting from a long-term mindset to dealing with a sudden burst of tactical questions needing answers right away,” says Carson, sitting in her lounge room that due to social distancing was transformed into her office, meeting room and her four year old’s schoolhouse. “The challenge was making sure that as we put in place the enablers to get people out of the office without a break in our service, we stayed connected to the long term vision.”

In response to the emerging crisis, the ICT began to ramp up its efforts in late February, in order to shift people to working from home. “We had to think about toolsets, collaboration, a whole new paradigm of information security. Luckily, the strategy process was in full swing. COVID hasn't necessarily changed our focus for the next 18 months, however it has brought a lot of clarity to what the business needs in the longer term,” says Carson.

As a part of her role, Carson has been tasked with reviewing the strategic business systems, which support complaints management and record keeping, in addition to piloting various technologies to meet business needs.

In March, the Commonwealth Ombudsman purchased 50 Kojensi licences on a 12-month deal. “Kojensi has proved to be handy tool during coronavirus when information needed to be shared and meeting people face-to-face wasn't an option,” adds Carson. “The pilot method is definitely something I advocate, and we are looking for more opportunities to support our business through technology.”

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The skills and the ideas you have brings diversity to any group, and having diversity makes that group stronger and us stronger as a whole.

Jade Carson | Commonwealth Ombudsman

Like many other organisations at the moment, Commonwealth Ombudsman is also exploring collaboration tools and video conferencing for efficiency, Carson jokes that she’s “used every video conferencing tool that's out there over the last few months.”

When it comes to being an effective leader, Carson is passionate about taking control especially as a woman in business, let alone IT. In 2017 she was chosen to be a mentee on the Dell Women IT Executive Mentoring program (DellWITEM). The program aims to address the low numbers of women in the IT industry.

Finding the experience invaluable she recently became a mentor on the program. “It's important to participate in these programs and utilise techniques to support you through your career and with your self-belief,” she says. “We all get impostor syndrome sometimes, not believing we are enough, or have enough skills for the job. Everybody has those thoughts, but having self-belief is recognising that you do have something worthwhile to offer. The skills and the ideas you have brings diversity to any group, and having diversity makes that group stronger and us stronger as a whole.”

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