Theta Systems has identified strong internal and external candidates to replace former CEO Steve Saunders.
Saunders had planned to retire from Theta Systems in March, and interim CEO Rob Lee says the company had already embarked on a rigorous process to find his successor. However, Saunders died after suffering a heart attack while playing golf in mid-January.
He was a well-known industry figure, whose IT career in the UK and New Zealand spanned more than three decades and was hallmarked locally by roles as CIO of meat company Affco and chief technology officer at the University of Auckland. He was also Theta Systems’ chairman.
“He was very sociable and enormously popular,” says Lee. “He knew all about hard work and about people and somehow always managed to have fun as did anyone he worked with.”
Saunders successfully reshaped Theta from a proprietor-led company into one with a robust commercial model, Lee believes.
“It seems very sad that Steve was about to retire and did not quite make it. He had however achieved all he wanted though and that is why he was ready to finish up. If we had gotten to farewell him from his business life as planned, that would have put the cherry on top of the icing, on top of the already rich cake.”
Theta Systems was formed in 1995 when, at Saunders’ suggestion, a group of contractors employed on an as-needed basis by Affco during his term as CIO, banded together to form Theta.
Saunders continued to mentor Theta’s owners after joining the University of Auckland in the early 2000s, and he subsequently became Theta CEO in mid-2006. His term was initially set for two years, but it turned into nearly four. He became board chairman in April 2008.
Theta began by specialising in Oracle technologies, but has since added partnerships with Microsoft and IBM. It has carved a niche serving energy companies in New Zealand and Australia and also specialises in business intelligence, databases and software development.
Lee joined Theta as sales director in 2007.