People are our Power: Ed Chung
Technology companies are built on innovation, but for TechnologyOne CEO Ed Chung, it’s the people laying those bricks who create true success.
When Ed Chung left university, his first boss gave him some words of advice that have resonated with him ever since. "Surround yourself with the best."
He wasn’t simply referring to the people with the necessary talent, he meant those with the passion and drive to help a business succeed.
"That’s what we have here at TechnologyOne," Ed, the enterprise software company’s CEO, tells The CEO Magazine. "Our team members love what they do and will work hard to ensure we are delivering the best products and the best experience for our customers. When you surround yourself with the best, the possibilities are endless."
It’s a culture of hard work, according to Ed, but one where innovation is a huge priority. Twice a year, the entire team downs tools for an all-company ‘hack day’. "They are fun and part of our TechnologyOne culture, and everyone knows they are there to innovate and come up with new ways of doing things," he explains.
Staff then vote on which project should be explored further. "We deliberately encourage our people to try and innovate every day. Let’s face it – innovation can be difficult when you’re so busy doing stuff, and taking time out for everyone to come up with new ideas is really worth it," he says. "It’s great for staff engagement and a no-brainer for long-term profitability."
Tides of change
Wellbeing is another big focus, with Ed determined to help TechnologyOne’s diligent staff ‘unwind’, particularly during the trials of the pandemic. The company recently appointed world champion surfer Stephanie Gilmore as its Wellness Ambassador.
"TechnologyOne doesn’t ‘do easy’; in fact we pride ourselves on the fact that we deliver on things that others put in the too hard basket. It’s for this reason that Steph will be critical in helping embed a strong wellness mindset – mentally and physically – into our team," he says. "Having seen the positive benefits of exercise in my life, I felt we needed to build the tools and capabilities for the team to help de-stress."
Let’s face it – innovation can be difficult when you’re so busy doing stuff, and taking time out for everyone to come up with new ideas is really worth it.
Supporting clients through the tough times of the last few years has also been a driving force, with Ed describing TechnologyOne’s customers as its ‘true north’. That’s why the company launched its ‘Together as One’ initiative at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure they could access the support they needed. "Every time we help a customer to make their lives simpler, to help their communities or to transform their businesses, I feel proud," he says.
Even as the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic recedes to simply become part of everyday life, it’s important for TechnologyOne to continue to offer support to its customers amid the changing landscape. Ed believes ‘digital transformation’ became somewhat of a buzz phrase during the COVID-19 pandemic – a shift that helped to dramatically propel Australia forward.
But with the tides of change continuing to ebb and flow around us, he warns that companies cannot be complacent.
"In this ‘new normal’, companies now need to be taking the next step," he stresses. "AI, machine learning and productivity boosting technologies are all things companies need to be using as part of the ‘new normal’. If companies aren’t embracing these things or thinking about how to make it easier for their customers to engage with them, then they need to."
However, the path of digital transformation can be a tough journey for many companies, which is where TechnologyOne steps in. "We have started the process of making it simpler for our customers to purchase, implement, communicate and engage with their own teams and local community," he says. "The world, and the needs of our customers, are constantly changing and so I’m very focused on doing what we can to lean in and support them."
It’s a purpose beyond profit that sees the company adopt a ‘hyper-focus’ on its community. This sees it work specifically within distinct industry verticals – local government, higher education, government, asset intensive, health and community services. Ed explains this is because the company’s mission is "to better the community, from its citizens to its students, by leveraging our team’s innovation, drive and determination".
The world, and the needs of our customers, are constantly changing and so I'm very focused on doing what we can to lean in and support them.
This clarity of mission means that TechnologyOne doesn’t shy away from a tough project. "Student management systems in universities, or property and rating software in local councils, are two examples of things that other companies won’t touch, but we thrive on a challenge and this has worked well for us," Ed says.
As Australia’s largest ‘software as a service’ enterprise resource planning provider, TechnologyOne has positioned sustainability high on its agenda. The switching from individual devices to the server means that devices can be less powerful, thereby consuming drastically reduced amounts of energy and reducing Australia’s carbon footprint.
"It is one of the most efficient and rapid pathways to achieve net zero," Ed stresses. "Research shows that increasing cloud computing to 40 per cent by 2025 will reduce Australian emissions by four million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030. I’m proud we’re helping our customers make this move."
The company is already carbon neutral, and later this year, its global operations will follow suit. "We are one of the first and few tech companies to do this," he says. It’s an achievement that Ed is clearly proud of and which resonates with its all-important customers. "Keeping customers looking to the future and abreast of changes and opportunities in the sector is a constant focus."
Keeping it in-house
In order to deliver the best service to those it works with, TechnologyOne doesn’t outsource, instead keeping everything in-house – a strategy known throughout the company as the "Power of One". Ed says it is the reason many of its customers select its services. "We prefer to do things ourselves," he says. "We are proud to take full responsibility for all areas of the business – TechnologyOne designs it, sells it, implements it and supports it."
A company with a dynamic and robust culture still requires strong leadership, and Ed is inspired by those he works with now, as well as those in the past such as the company’s Founder, Adrian Di Marco, who retired in June after 35 years at the helm.
"I’m also really inspired by some of the leaders I’ve had the privilege of connecting with through our TechnologyOne Foundation partnerships," he says. "Simon Doble, CEO and Founder of SolarBuddy, is an inventor and social impact entrepreneur whose innovative solar solutions are changing the lives of people living in energy poverty.
"Gemma Sisia built the school of St Jude for East Africa’s poorest children on the belief that free, high-quality education is a basic human right. They had a vision and delivered, and I really respect having a vision and the conviction to see it through."
Seeing the impact the company has on its customers and communities is a big part of what Ed enjoys most about his job. But he also loves coming into the office with its hum of collaboration, creative collisions and camaraderie. He says its vibrant atmosphere has helped to make the company what it is today.
"The people and culture make a place worth working at – it’s one of my favourite things about going to work," he says. "In years to come, when we reflect on the history of TechnologyOne, I not only want us to be remembered as one of Australia’s largest enterprise software companies that expanded globally, but we also want people to see the values and the DNA of our team members."