Big Four tech stalwart calls it quits

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The CEO of the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) Ian Narev has announced the resignation of CIO Michael Harte, who has been with the bank since 2006.

Harte was also the group executive of enterprise services, and under his watch the application of technology to financial services became a core priority.

One of the group’s biggest successes during his tenure was the delivery of the Core Banking Modernisation project, which saw 1,500 people working for nearly six years to replace the old legacy system.

Harte will officially leave in the middle of this year to take up the role of chief operations and technology officer at Barclays Bank in London.

CEO Narev said Harte’s contribution to creating the internationally leading real-time and customer focused banking platform is invaluable.

“We greatly appreciate Michael’s contribution to our IT strategy which has built a strong team and a pipeline of value-creating technology solutions which will benefit our customers and businesses for years to come,” he said.

Narev indicated that an announcement regarding a replacement would likely be made in June. The appointment of Harte’s successor will focus on internal candidates, due to the group’s strong internal talent development, he said.

“Technology is a core strategic priority of the group, and I am very pleased that we have a strong pool of internal candidates who will provide strategic continuity, and also lead us through the next phase of our technology and operations innovation, while maintaining on-going focus on security and resilience.”

Technology executive head-hunter Paul Rush, a partner at Odgers Berndtson, said he couldn’t think of an obvious internal replacement for Harte, reported the Australian Financial Review.

He advised expanding the search from just an internal one.

“I would really like to see someone with a broader background, multi-industry, but a person who can bring global experience to bear and one that can take CBA into the digital era and beyond,” Rush said.

Harte’s departure means that each of the Big Four will have changed their technology leadership over the past year.

Westpac CIO Clive Whincup resigned in order to join Woolworths in February, and ANZ CIO Anne Weatherston stepped down last month after four years in the role.

Late last year National Bank Australia appointed former Ernst & Young partner David Boyle after CIO Denis McGee resigned.

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