Gig Guide: NSW data guru Ian Oppermann out

New South Wales’ first-ever chief data scientist Ian Oppermann is hanging up his boots after more than eight years in the role to join the technology advisory firm set up by former digital minister Victor Dominello.

Mr Oppermann, who was tasked with setting up the state government’s Data Analytics Centre (DAC) in 2015 by Mr Dominello, revealed his intention to “hand back the chief data scientist badge” on Tuesday.

While he did not divulge his future intentions, Mr Dominello later announced that the “highly regarded” data scientist and “person of deep humility, humanity, integrity and intellect” would be joining Service Gen as a foundational member.

Former NSW minister Victor Dominello with outgoing NSW chief data scientist Ian Oppermann. Image: LinkedIn/Victor Dominello

Mr Opperman leaves the job as the state government puts the finishing touches on the second version of its AI Assurance Framework, which is set to be adopted at a national level for use by all Australian governments.

A brainchild of Mr Oppermann, the framework was first launched in 2021 to guide public servants and partners when designing and building data driven services, and has undergone revision over the last six months following the arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

“If you close one eye and squint, you will see that it is a thinly disguised data sharing and use framework. If you also lean a little to one side, you will see years of experimentation from the early days of the DAC… and the lessons learned from Covid,” he said in a piece for The Policymaker.

Mr Oppermann also said that it was his hope that the “conversation around AI is hopefully getting close to its crescendo”, following a year when ChatGPT dominated conversations in government leadership circles.

“As the algorithms disappear into opaque complexity beyond our ability to explain, it becomes increasingly important to focus on the data, and the guiderails on the use of the data products created from the use of AI,” he said.

Josh Griggs, a senior telco executive with 25 years’ experience, has been appointed the interim chief executive of the Australian Computer Society while the information technology professionals association searches for a permanent CEO.

Mr Griggs officially takes the reins on Wednesday, allowing for a brief handover period with outgoing CEO Chris Vein, who will leave ACS at the end of the month due to personal and health reasons.

“ACS greatly appreciates Josh taking on the interim CEO role,” ACS president Nick Tate said in a statement. “His IT and telecommunications background gives him a deeper perspective into the opportunities and challenges which face ICT in Australia.”

Mr Griggs has spent the last five years as the CEO of data centre and tech consultancy Clarifi IT. He has also worked in senior roles at Metronode (now Equinix), Optus Business and Alphawest, and BT Group.

As reported by earlier this week, Bart Mellish has been named the new Minister for Digital Services and Minister for Transport and Main Road in Queensland Premier Steven Miles’ new-look Cabinet.

Mr Mellish is an environmental scientist who served as chief of staff to federal Labor Senator Anthony Chisholm prior to being elected to Parliament. He has also worked as a transport and economics policy advisor.

Luke Sheehy, the executive director of the Australian Technology Network, has been appointed as the new CEO of Universities Australia, which represents 39 of the country’s most respected universities.

He replaces Catriona Jackson, who will depart on Friday after five years in the role. She was reportedly ousted by the peak body’s vice chancellors over her response to Senate questions about sexual violence on campuses.

The Australian Renewables Energy Agency CEO Darren Miller has been reappointed by the federal government for a third term, making him the agency’s longest serving chief in its history. He will begin his next three-year term in August 2024.

Climate Change and Energy minister Chris Bowen said Mr Miller had been appointed well ahead of time to “ensure certainty and continuity for ARENA during a period of substantial growth, including delivery of the government’s $2 billion Hydrogen HeadStart program”.

The New South Wales Space Research Network, which is funded through the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Investment NSW, has a new co-director in Professor Roger Kermode, the CEO and co-founder of Incyzr and the University of Technology Sydney’s director of Business Development.

Professor Kermode replaces Professor Robert Fitch, who is leaving to become director of the Defence Innovation Network. He will lead alongside the University of Sydney’s Professor Stefan Williams.

The South Australian government has appointed John Elink-Schuurman as the director of its newly establish trade office in Washington DC. He will be tasked with growing the state’s reputation in defence and hydrogen in the US.

Mr Elink-Schuurman previously worked as Investment NSW’s director, trade and investment, defence/space/aerospace, a role also based in Washington DC. Before that he managed an export accelerator program for Virginia’s Economic Development’s International Trade Division.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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