Thompson, Reichelt quit DTA

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Digital Transformation Agency has lost another two of its most senior digital executives – two of its most senior women – with the shock resignations of Digital Marketplace chief Catherine Thompson and service design rock star Leisa Reichelt.

Ms Thompson and Ms Reichelt were the last of the senior team assembled by former Digital Transformation Office CEO Paul Shetler still working at the organisation since it was restructured and renamed as the DTA a year ago.

Their departure follows the resignation six weeks ago of the DTA’s digital identity project lead Rachel Dixon.

Catherine Thompson: The respected former ANZ Bank chief procurement officer has left the DTA behind

Among a raft of changes, DTA chief operating officer Peter Alexander has been appointed as the organisation’s new Chief Digital Officer and will now oversee the roll-out of platforms like the Digital Marketplace.

The DTA also plans to appoint a Chief Technology Officer within the delivery area to make sure the agency stays current with technology trends, a spokesperson said.

“A new CEO is bringing a fresh approach to how the DTA delivers on its agenda and consequently, is undergoing restructuring and recruiting to get the right people in the right roles,” a spokesperson said.

Catherine Thompson is understood to have left the DTA immediately after handing in her resignation last Friday. She is understood to have been told by newly-appointed CEO Gavin Slater that she would not be on the agency’s leadership team.

The highly-regarded Ms Thomson was just one year into a two-year contract with the DTA. She was not required to do a hand-over of her work in progress.

Leisa Reichelt is thought to have accepted a job as user research chief at Australian software unicorn Atlassian. She will take up the role after working through a one-month notice period at the DTA.

While she is an Australian national and a graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, Ms Reichelt earned rock-star status in user research and service design through her work in the UK with the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Mr Shetler brought Ms Reichelt back to Australia as one of his first hires when he was appointed to run the DTO in mid-2015.

The resignations leave the DTA short on digital skills among its senior ranks, or project delivery expertise and experience. It also leaves the organisation without a reasonable representation of women among its leadership team.

The future of the Digital Marketplace program within the DTA is by no means certain following Ms Thompson’s resignation, just as the future of the digital identity project remains unclear as a result of Rachel Dixon resignation in May.

Both programs had been significantly reshaped followed the restructure of the Digital Transformation Agency late last year.

The Digital Transformation Agency said on Monday that it remained committed to the Digital Marketplace program and that funding for the marketplace was ongoing.

“The role of the DTA has been significantly broadened over the past year and it now has increased responsibility and a broader mandate to deliver on the government’s digital transformation agenda,” the spokesperson said.

“With this as a backdrop, we’re looking to considerably increase the skills and capabilities of people coming into the DTA, including recruiting people with strong expertise in product delivery and people with a proven track record in delivering large scale change.”

New CEO Gavin Slater is expected to outline his plans for the agency early next month.

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