Defence finds its new tech chief at Orica

The Department of Defence has looked to Singapore for a new executive to oversee its extensive technology estate and multibillion-dollar SAP upgrade, hiring explosive makers Orica’s tech exec Chris Crozier as its new chief information officer. can reveal Mr Crozier will take up Defence’s most senior technology role on August 1, marking his first foray into the Australian Public Service after decades working in mining and related tech.

The IT veteran replaces former CIO Stephen Pearson, who departed Defence when his five-year term came to an end in February. Defence’s chief technology offer Justin Keefe has been acting in the role since then.

The department began its public search for a CIO in November, well before Mr Pearson stepped down from the role. A Defence spokesperson said Mr Crozier was appointed following a merit selection process.

“Mr Crozier brings a wealth of experience to Defence, as a global executive who has shown deep cross-functional and cross-cultural leadership in business and technology transformation,” the spokesperson said.

The path from the explosives and chemical group to Defence is well worn, with Mr Pearson also working a two-year stint as CIO at Orica in the years leading up to his appointment at Defence.

Since 2016, Mr Crozier has worked several executive roles at Orica, most recently as group CIO out of the company’s Singapore office. He has also worked stints as the company’s Australia Pacific vice president and chief digital officer.

Prior to joining Orica in January 2016, Mr Crozier spent nine years at mining giant BHP in Singapore, including six years as global CIO between 2009 and 2015, and three years as chief procurement officer between 2006 and 2009.

Industry insiders have told that Mr Crozier has extensive experience in SAP rollouts, including disaster remediation. Orica emerged from a significant SAP implementation in late 2020.

The project, known as the 4S program – ‘Simple, Standard, Single SAP’, covered eight end-to-end business process and consolidated Orica’s entire business on an S/4 HANA core, its second attempt at doing so.

Defence is in the midst of a decade-long, multi-billion-dollar enterprise resource planning (ERP) system project, which is is delivering an SAP S/4 HANA system to progressively replace around 90 per cent of the department’s existing ERP application.

In November, the department brought in Accenture, Deloitte and DXC Technology to work on the final phase of the ERP project, including HR, fuels management, catering management, engineering and maintenance, and estate management”.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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