Sally Copland, general manager brand and acting managing director of supermarket chain Countdown, is the 2020 New Zealand CIO of the year.
Countdown’s digital team, CountdownX, was also recognised as a finalist in the business transformation through digital and IT category for its initial COVID-19 response at the NZ CIO Awards last night.
Copland said the recognition was a boost for the whole Countdown team which has worked incredibly hard for customers throughout a challenging year.
“Countdown was privileged to be one of the few businesses in Aotearoa which was able to operate right through COVID-19 lockdowns," she said.
"That privilege came with an immense amount of responsibility and pressure, and I am extremely proud of how all of our team members worked together and rose to the challenge.”
The Countdown team was already hard at work after weeks of panic buying and unparalleled demand for contactless delivery when New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown on 15 March.
Almost overnight, conversations with the company's new virtual digital assistant, Olive, jumped from 3000 a month to 20,000 a day.
Throughout March and April, Countdown increased its online grocery delivery capacity by 60 per cent, designed and implemented its priority assistance service in five days to support more than 120,000 vulnerable Kiwis, registered more than 200,000 new online customers, opened New Zealand’s first dedicated supermarket e-store, temporarily converted five stores into "dark stores" to service online demand and, in less than a week, developed and piloted an e-queue system.
“It’s incredible to look back on what the team has achieved this year, not only during lockdown but in getting back to business as usual and continuing to innovate for our customers however they choose to shop with us,” Copland said.
Winners were announced in seven categories:
Finalists for the CIO award were: Iain Gauld, CIO, Contact; Mandy Simpson, chief digital officer, Z Energy; Mark Denvir, director ICT, Auckland Council, and; Stella Ward, chief digital officer, Canterbury District Health Board and West Coast District Heath Board.
The award for outstanding contribution to technology and business in New Zealand went to Frances Valintine
The emerging ICT leader of the year was Dr Margaret Harris, CIO of ContainerCo. Finalists in that category were: Chris Marsh, group infrastructure manager, Freightways, and Mo Chalabi, digital consultant, Beca.
The sustainability through technology award went to Southern Cross Health Society while Z Energy, Genesis Energy and Tonkin and Taylor were finalists.
The community tech champions winner was Te Reo Irirangi o Te Hiku o Te Ika, while finalists were Manaaki powered by Indigo and The Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust.
The award for best ICT team culture was lifted by Fidelity Life ahead of Counties Manukau Health, Otago Polytechnic, Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa and Vocus as finalists.
Finally, the business transformation through digital and IT award went to Inland Revenue ahead of Countdown and PlaceMakers.