In our latest episode of the NewyTechPeople podcast, Linda Apostolidis chats with Jodi Stapleton, Head of Transformation at Newcastle Permanent Building Society.
In the episode we discuss Jodi’s personal journey, how she started a career in data and technology, the strategic roadmap currently underway at Newcastle Permanent Building Society and her advice for young people choosing a career in technology. Jodi and Linda also discover a shared love of true crime podcasts and thrillers!
Hope you enjoy the episode!
Here you can source all the things we have talked about in the podcast whether that be books, events, meet-up groups and what’s new in the newcastle tech scene.
hello jody welcome to the new tech people podcast thank you for being my second guest really good to see you today thank you i’m here to have a bit of fun yeah and i’m really excited to be here today thank you very good so um i wanted to start by giving the audience i guess just a bit of background in terms of your career to date and your current role at newcastle permanent building society and how that that’s evolved over the last several years so uh i love working for newcastle permanent it’s a great organization um and a really good hunter hunter business and they’ve done amazing things and i think what they’ve been able to accomplish from a customer-owned banking perspective is really fantastic for the hunter region so there i head up the transformation program so the transformation program is a set of a team of fantastic delivery people so are your traditional project managers business analysts change leads awesome so if we take it back a few years tell us how you came to start a career in data and technology so i you can tell my accent i’m canadian so i moved here in 2007 so my husband is a novocastrian so that’s what brings me to newcastle yeah so we met traveling and i’ve been working here ever since 2007. i took a small gap year in 2017 to go back in and live in canada again but where did you make travelling was where in the world was that in australia it’s a really funny story tell us it was on a contiki tour and he wasn’t taking it was a contiki tour in australia and um yeah it uh it ended in marriage so yeah that’s pretty good money well spent yeah so in canada my work experience was predominantly in um financial services as well but more on the investment banking and the insurance side so a couple big canadian names uh in the insurance industry which is sunlight financial mackenzie financial which is an investment firm so i cut my cut my teeth right out of university working on working in those areas i moved to here in 2007 and newcastle permanent was my first real role and i was really fortunate to have them sponsor me for my 457 so so i could get a visa and i can work here and be a legitimate australian yeah and what role did you start at in with newcastle permanent were you in the bi team yeah so i started as a business intelligence analyst wowed them and quickly made my way to a senior business intelligence analyst and then i made it to the manager of business intelligence and then i made it to the senior manager of business intelligence so i i gradually progressed my way through uh but there’s a theme there i’ve been working in data and analytics for years yeah and i know you took a bit of a career break which you just touched on before to travel take your family back to canada for a bit of a gap year so tell us about that oh that was i remember before i took it so us working women that we we’re uh we’re always very focused on our career and making our career one of our top priorities and i was really nervous at the thought of not working for 12 months and what is that going to do from a career point of view will i forget how to be a professional and will i forget how to do my job it was one of the best years of my whole entire life and i still reflect back on it and i think especially now with covet and everything that’s going on and the the struggle for work-life balance that i think is a global issue right now um with blurring the lines between home and work uh it it really it really emphasized the value that we got out as a family of that year as as well as your own personal growth and spending time on yourself and your career is a long long thing and it’s a long journey and taking time as you go through it is really important i think not just waiting for i’ll do these when i retire absolutely because you know if you waited for that opportunity you wouldn’t be able to go we might not be able to go overseas and travel properly for another couple of years yeah i think about how lucky that you were to do it before a pandemic hit so yeah and so you came came back to newcastle and i know that you took a role as head of data and process at hephron so tell us about that experience because i know that that was a fairly new area that you were setting up for them at the time so i i used that opportunity to really learn so newcastle permanent was was fantastic and i got a lot of bigger bigger business experience through them and a lot about governance um and a regularly regulated industry working for hephron was my opportunity to really work learn about agile ways of working how a smaller company works how a founder based company works so which is really interesting because the person who supports you every day is sitting next to you and there’s a direct impact to the productivity and what you are able to deliver for the business to what the founders are able to achieve for their customers and and for their people so that was it took the world of business and took it away from being a faceless thing into being actually a community and uh about the people that are there and about what they deliver for their customers so that was really that was really rewarding experience i learned a lot from working at hephron and about the people and process as well as technology yeah great and and then you’re enticed back to newcastle perm in your current capacity as head of head of transformation yeah so i got a call from the chief financial officer is sean hassell and he was really excited about what bernadette our new ceo when she came on in july was it was going to do for the organization and i thought i saw a really good opportunity to use some of the skills that i had learned as well as apply them at scale and support bernadette and her vision yeah great you’ve enjoyed a successful career in technology what compelled you to start a career in technology this is kind of embarrassing because it’s not really educated and insightful like i wanted to use technology to make a world a better place so there’s a little known movie called hackers it stars angelina jolie um and it was released in 1995 for that movie do you remember that yeah i do yeah so i saw that movie and i thought it was so cool that angelina jolie could use a computer and hacking
in that movie and so i decided to um change my major from international business to a hybrid so i did a kind of a bachelor of commerce also and i also did information systems so half my courses were in business and half my courses were more computer science focused so the movie because of a movie wow how did you get that one past your parents how did you how did you describe the logic around that well i i have a i had very hands-off parents okay they really didn’t care i paid for my university as long as i finished that’s all they were concerned about so uh yeah i think it’s a funny story i still reflect back oh because of movies and in terms of the higher education path that you took at that time reflecting back would you still have gone down that same path that you went down or would you you know you did a double degree would there be sort of some other areas that you may have explored explored yeah i i think i i do have the luxury of as soon as i walked out of university i did exactly what i studied so my my university was was really applicable so where i found real joy and where i was excelling was in my database design and analytics courses and my ability to apply the business learnings that i was taking into a technology perspective i really enjoyed coding my first visual basic course was was great i really really learned a lot from it and as soon as i could get to the computer to write hello world i was hooked saying oh wow this is really cool that you can you can use humans can interact with computers and and and enable them to do things and enable them to make business decisions and help businesses thrive and so it was kind of the the culmination of those two things within my school environment so one thing i’ll i’ll say is uh higher education is really important and you should you should do it it’s a gate opener now you have to you have to do it and the way that the world is working but doing an internship or having work experience is also equally important so i believe so as well yeah i strongly believe that you would see that in a lot of your candidates you’re getting through and tell the difference between people that have had some real life exposure to you know the ones that have just sort of stayed on at university and not tried to you know get some experience in their vocation of choice yeah so i had the canadian government ran a internship program and so they would go for the summer because you have a lot a long time you four month off in canada in the summer for your uh between your next uni year wow how nice is that yeah so you in the beginning of may so they re start their recruitment in april and they would hire interns for all the different uh cadet ships for all the different um government departments so i got one with the department of justice and i i think that was really enabled me to leverage my education and and quickly into a career post because i had three years of solid working real work real life work experience to accompany my degree at the end of the day so yeah fantastic that’s probably the number one piece of advice you would give to students and graduates wanting to start a career in technology is there anything else any other insights that you want to share any certain pathways you know obviously we’re seeing a lot more different types of roles yeah um being created now than probably when you know we went to university is there anything else that you would like to add when you when you think about talking to a lot of girls and saying do you want to get into tech and i think they think of it as it’s a developer’s field only so i have to be a computer engineer in order to get into that field but i think the breadth of roles they have currently are really suited equally suited to women and equally suited to men and it’s about understanding technology and our kids are are technical literate they’re coming out of school completely technical literate far far exceeding what we were when we were coming out so having that technical literacy having a set of soft skills and hard skills is applicable in all these different roles when you think about scrum masters and product owners and lean coaches it’s people who understand technology but they understand the psychology of people also and they’re able to apply that to get the best outcomes yeah good and i think you know your sort of field of data is really key as well because if you know sort of companies are wanting to grow and have a competitive advantage in the market then you know they need data and analytics and insights into how their customers think and you know consume their products their products or services so that’s a real large area of growth that i see especially in newcastle and they in the advent of ai and ml and what what’s happening in aws um and azure and the technology platforms that are coming out is is really it’s it’s conducive to a breadth of experience and a a large background so i wanted to talk about newcastle permanent building society and currently the plans that are underway so can you tell us about you growing a team locally in newcastle to deliver upon the strategic roadmap it’s currently underway and what you and the team have achieved so far so really exciting so last year we partnered with an external consultant company to help us develop our strategic roadmap so this was one team one roadmap one vision so it was really uniting the organization as a whole under a set of initiatives that would really turn the dial from a technology from a customer point of view and from our people point of view so really looking at it holistically not just saying i’m going to do this project it’s saying actually across the organization what are the initiatives we need to do to really get there there’s number of streams that you’re working yes we have five streams and they focus on uh customer experience customer growth people and culture risk and compliance and productivity and we we realize that a lot of the initiatives in there are tactical for us yep and we we need to do this to really set a strong foundation and through that process was learning around uh our strategic planning is iterative and we’re always growing and evolving it and and moving it forward so being uh having agility change agility and developing a flyway for change across the organization is is one of the key benefits of of really focusing um our energies on that are you implementing agile across the organization or is it just within the technology and transfer so we’ve got agile ways of working running in different departments i wouldn’t say it’s not an agile methodology but it’s about how do you use a set of tools how do you maybe change how you interact with each other and and and meet and and talk and find change and introduce change and that’s what um the agile ways of working program was is is up and running and that’s how that’s being run out of the transformation office also so some of the things we we’ve been able to achieve so far so during covid we were able to launch a digital verification of identity so what that means is instead of customers having to go into the branch to get verified to do a lending um to to sign up for a loan yeah they no longer need to we can do that virtually with interviews right from their home yeah using um online video conferencing to be able to do that so that was something we’ve been able to do really quickly and it was really timely so it was on the roadmap prior to the pandemic hitting but it was something we were able to move on quite quickly and bring forward uh to be able to make sure that we could still lend and get home loans out the door for our customers even during the time that we’re facing i know my partner’s just taken a home loan with newcastle permanent just recently did you do the fixed rate or the variable do you know i don’t ask him about his finances we launched a great fixed rate uh last week five year five year fixed rate at 1.99 so like crazy low yeah i think he got he he did it through a girlfriend of mine he’s a broker and she did an amazing job for him and her preference is always to use newcastle perm we love to hear that we get some really good feedback from our brokers yeah um also we’ve got a lot of great initiatives coming up next year so keep a close eye on us um yeah some work happening on our app some work happening in our digital space so just really excited to be able to to to tell that story and and deliver some change for our customers so i know that they’re the the customers our customers are really passionate about newcastle permanent and and giving them a great technology platform to support their passion so there’ll be a fair few new digital products that are uh developed as part of that more uh our delivery channels okay yeah delivery channels okay so we we have uh the delivery staff that focus on delivering the initiatives we’ve got the five streams and we’ve got uh the change so change management is something that we’re really passionate about and maturing and embedding change uh across the organization so the change management team’s a new thing within our area that is is is learning and maturing and growing as we go through this program yeah good and what have something the challenges that you’ve had to you you’ve faced sort of hiring and ramping up that transformation team some of the challenges is ah well the biggest one was cobin so we uh finished the strategic roadmap and got and presented it to the board in march literally the monday following that presentation covid hit and so it was about moving quickly to a remote working environment and keeping everybody aligned and getting everybody excited and using new tools and new processes and trying to introduce all new things quickly whilst the organization and the world is going through a major crisis is is challenging it’s really challenging such a strange time it it was for everybody right and i think i don’t know they say there there’s moments in your life i think one of them is where were you when princess diana died that’s yeah one everybody remembers where they were and i think everybody will remember where were you when you got the announcement about covet and yeah and your life just got flipped upside down yeah absolutely yeah something that i don’t want to experience again that’s for sure but i think those times also force you to really think about what’s important to you and creatively yes yep great focus and you know sort of am i working in the right environment is this the job that i want or you know is this the life that i want you know lots of forces people into lots of reflection i think which can be really a positive thing and i think the focus and reflection was an important one for us as an organization because we were all committed to achieving one thing at that point in time and the way that all the departments pulled together to get everybody at home to get the technology up and running and the turnaround time they were able to achieve as as one team and really and really making that happen was really powerful for us yeah great and newcastle perms already always had you know sort of a solid commitment to the community as well can you talk to us about some of those initiatives so i had the joy of participating in one recently so as one of the strategic group initiatives was about people’s wellness across the organization so they partnered with an organization called waves of wellness okay so and they’re a company that runs surfing programs and so that’s cool the surfing programs are not just about learning how to surf but also about um mental health and strong mental health so we we got a day where we got to go to the beach with them and we have a circle where we all check in and then we got a we got a surf lesson so the charitable foundation donated a van for them so they can now be more mobile around as well as there’s quite a few surfers around the organization that participate as surf mentors with the waves of wellness program so that’s just one example and and their true partner for us they post things about mental health and wellness on our on our intranet for us to leverage and speaking at team meetings and and really getting engaged so i think that’s a really good example of a charitable partnership yeah cool we’re also launching our summer campaign program you’ll see some new colors from newcastle permanent we’ve got a new tv spots and a new um commercial campaign coming out so it’s really exciting and we’re all being really encouraged to get out there and give back to the community so we get two charitable days per year and and we’ve got all new t-shirts to wear which with really great colors and we’re being encouraged between now and christmas to take one of those days as a team and get out there in our new colors and show that newcastle permanent is really giving back to the community yeah that’s fantastic so we decided what you’re going to be doing as a team yet yeah so we we did ours today and we’re doing oz harvest oh fantastic yeah so yeah our team is going it’s early december i can’t remember the date but yeah they’ve organized it all and yeah we’re really excited about it yeah very good and when you think about hiring for your team because i know you’ve had to do a lot of hiring in the last you know probably the last 12 months especially for this transformation what types of attributes and you know sort of personality traits are you looking for my number one is i’m really passionate about curiosity so i think uh we nobody has all the answers and nobody knows how everything works anywhere all right you and you’re and we’re all presented with tricky problems every single day and it’s being curious um to know what what’s out there what can i use how can i use it how can i leverage um information from someone else and i think curiosity is is really important and through life being a lifelong learner and being curious about the world that you live in and and the world that you work in and and the company you work for so curiosity is really important for me problem solving it’s cliche but you can’t say enough about people who bring you solutions not problems so i think problem solving is is really great yeah um attribute uh and critical thinking and also people who think work is fulfilling so i know when work can get you down at times and um it’s it’s it’s difficult uh and sometimes it has its highs and is low but i could never give up working it’s it’s part of who i am and it’s really fulfilling to me and and we’d like to think that when people are going for roles it’s because it’s not just a job it’s something that i feel passionate about inspire them and keep them engaged yeah yeah sure what is the plan looking like is it a is it a three-year transformation so it’s a three-year it’s a three-year strategic roadmap yeah so we’re delivering a three-year strategic roadmap but we’re always reviewing it so we’re in our next strategic planning cycle now so we always need to stay current so the decisions we made last year are might not be the right decisions now and it’s a i think great organizations are constantly reviewing yeah what do i need to do for my people and my customers and what and how am i going to get there yeah fantastic well it’s an exciting time for you guys do you listen to any podcasts i do i do which one uh so i’m a big fan of business wars so this is they pit they do uh like an expose or research piece into two businesses so traditional like you’re like everybody knows it blockbuster versus um netflix that story my favorite was hasbro versus mattel so it goes all the way back to the the history of like toy creation and how these two companies were against each other throughout the world and and what i love about it is we think that business is this machine that operates in this sphere that we don’t understand so you think about there there are these huge businesses yeah and you think fighting for market share fighting for market share and fighting all over the place and you boil it down and it’s two ceos that are just going at it yeah and decided they didn’t like each other so they decided to uh so it’s i think it’s really interesting to see the history of a lot of these businesses and where they where they’ve come from obviously a lot of them are american because a lot of our business world was capitalism um grew up there so that’s where a lot of it comes in massive corporations over there yeah so i just there’s tons of content so like road trip my husband and i number one business wars goes on does it request yeah i’m gonna have to listen to that one it’s really good listening to the dropout it’s a podcast um so it’s a true american bad corporate culture and whistleblower one-on-one so it sounds really interesting yes so the the the villain in it is elizabeth holmes so she’s what does she do she was a dropout bio biochemical engineer so she did two courses she sold a professor on an idea that we that they could do uh pinprick blood tests i’m reading like i’m reading that book at the moment my girlfriend are you yeah so they she pinpricks they put it into the machine it’s called the edison and they do they they claim they could do about 200 blood tests on it so gone are the days of the injection and the kids crying and all of the and the pints of the vials of blood that they they had solved it all and the tests can come back quite quickly as quickly right away yeah so yeah and she was a total fraud total fraud yeah and she just chewed and burned through people and billions of dollars yeah wiped off the share market yes and if someone didn’t you know agree with her point of view or started to see the cracks in her strategy she would just wipe them out so this is savage so if you think about it so i and i listened to the podcast when i was driving back from byron bay after my company director’s course and i went wow how does that happen how does that happen in an organization living in her head like imagine being in her head yep but the people the people in this macho the people would come to like you would recruit for them and you would say they’re a fantastic organization and yeah and all these people would be excited yeah tech silicon valley good pay great role and they’re sitting there and they’re trying to do their job and make a mark for themselves and do a great job and it’s just she ruined she ruined quite a few lives as well like some really senior scientists and people that anyone that did challenge her or cross her and try and stop her from you know wasting billions and millions of dollars she just yeah yeah so i thought it was really violated them totally annihilated them so on one hand i respect her greatly because wow that’s really impressive on the other hand i’m like that’s just so wrong yeah to be nasty but i love i love a good bad story yeah so that’s why i love it too i love um a little bit of a thriller prime documentary yes they’re dirty john oh my god they’re so good and i i am i was actually i haven’t fully got into the second season of that yet but my sister was up till four in the morning watching it because she just couldn’t look away although than anything like that because they had the podcast then you could watch the netflix yeah you could just you can get as much of it you want and what’s the australian one there was an australian version of that so he was like the australian dirty john and they had a podcast of it so the movie was like the australian version you may know that no there was a there was so dirty john had a podcast so dirty john was american right and then they had the netflix special but there’s an australian version of dirty john he’s uh he’s like i’m sure there’s a lot of australian versions of vintage unfortunately so but on the more intelligent side yes freakonomics and 99 invisible and hidden brain so i think i really like it i read for economics yeah so they that’s obviously behavioral economics so they’re always doing a different topic and hidden brains about psychology and 99 invisible is just really cool cool stuff and they kind of unpack it all and and take those problems that you’re thinking about and going oh this is how it works and this is how it all fits together so yeah and um one that is uh a newcastle perm permanent here that we’re we’re passionate about and we’re sponsoring is called music saved my life so it’s a podcast about um the importance of music and and growth and mental health and what about mentors and business leaders that inspire you that you’ve worked with during your career that you still stay in touch with and you know run things past is there anyone that you particularly bruce white obviously so bruce hired me at newcastle permanent um and you had a great relationship and we had a great relationship so yeah so i still check in with him um for all my big my big problems when i need some advice on what to do and what choices to make yeah so he’s he’s been a great support to me in my career yeah and obviously there’s always a family influence so my mom is is his career was always really important to her and yeah and she’s got great grounded advice and so i i leverage her a lot for a lot of those those frustrating moments yeah when you’re you don’t know what to do or how to see through it all though she’s very good to her yeah
frustrations yeah take it take a a more outside-in approach and yeah and look to it all right yeah yeah and you know who who knows you better than your mom yes exactly so yeah i don’t i i i don’t have a ton of them but i have the the handful that i have are are important and help me in different ways yeah good so where can people find you so if you were to you know y’all know that you’re on linkedin probably linkedin yeah i’m oran’s instagram if you want to see my travel photo
it’s like you work instagram yeah yeah but yeah linkedin’s the best place to to get a hold of me and um yeah i’d love to keep in touch with uh what goes on in the new tech community yes and also hunter data and analytics made up you know you’re quite often at those events or yep and it looks like they’re going to be starting out more face-to-face soon yeah in the in 2021 which is great and uh we’re and you will see us around see me around as we ch as we volunteer in our new colors for newcastle permanently exciting that’s really exciting i think yeah well i really enjoyed our chat today it was very interesting to hear about your journey in your career today and what you like to do outside of work so thank you thank you for inviting me do we get to go for a drink now let’s go thank you linda you