It's crucial that technology and business work together, says Bruce Paveley

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The CTO believes that collaboration between teams inspires productivity and creates solutions.

In July, Bruce Paveley was appointed CTO at TymeBank. However, he has been with the digital bank for five years now. Bruce has also been part of TymeBank’s senior IT leadership team since he joined.

“I joined TymeBank in July 2017 when the bank was just starting out and had not yet launched and was not in production,” he says. “We had gone through a redesign of the core banking solution and we were busy with the build. Commonwealth Bank of Australia had also just bought the company. As such, there was a lot of alignment work between TymeBank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.”

When TymeBank launched it was a fully on-premise bank and had not utilised any cloud services. Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud was still new technology and no corporates were talking or even thinking about it at the time, especially for production workloads, Bruce says.

“A year into our journey, it became quite clear that AWS and Microsoft Azure were the two main players in this space at the time. A major consideration we had to make was looking at how we would manage the business, despite being unsure of what it would look like in the future. Therefore, a decision was made to host the bank in the cloud with AWS as our preferred platform,” he explains.

When Bruce and his team started to develop the non-production solutions in AWS, it really became apparent to him that it was not only possible to run a data centre locally, but across the world. This realisation stretched Bruce’s thinking about how IT was evolving as well as understanding the security requirements of a multi-country data centre from on-premises to the cloud, like AWS. “We got that right! And systematically we moved current workloads and built all our new solutions in the AWS cloud,” he says.

Bruce concedes that the CTO’s role tends to be quite similar across organisations. However, things are a little different at TymeBank. “The CTO function here is not divorced from the business function. The business operational teams report into the CTO function as well,” he notes. “This allows you to have a very good marriage between business and technology.”

He believes that the ability to have your operational teams and technology teams working in concert has created a lot of productivity and synergy around solutions that drive business outcomes at a reduced cost and serve our customers better by improving customer service levels.

New technology and new dimensions
Bruce currently has three main projects on the go, but the one project he is most excited about is TymePOS, which launched in August. TymePOS is a point-of-sale solution, where any NFC enabled cell phone can be used as a point-of-sale device. “There are no monthly rentals or software costs with this application: you can download it from your App store, sign up, and within 24 hours, receive your merchant ID and start accepting transactions,” he explains.

“I think what really makes our solution stand out is that we settle the very next day. In fact, we are currently the only service provider that offers “immediate” settlement.”

For Bruce, the TymePOS application stays true to TymeBank’s commitment to customers of bringing affordable banking to everyone who wants to bank. “I often don’t carry cash on me,” he says. “But wouldn’t it be great if you could tip your local car guard, or pay your hairdresser – or any other merchant, for that matter – by just tapping your bank card on their phone,” he says.

As excited as Bruce is about this new solution, he is also a realist. “It’s new technology and there will be some challenges along the way,” he says. “I think customers have become very demanding of technology on the very first try,” he observes. However, I think that customers need to understand that new technology comes with its challenges. Some of the greatest technologies invented also faced bumps along the way, but it took us to a new dimension of doing business.”

And speaking of technology and when things don’t go as expected, Bruce is quite honest about how he deals with disappointment. “I don’t like anything to go wrong,” he says. “And when something does go wrong, I view it as a personal failure and the failure of my team. It means that there was something missed when building the solution, missing it meant something failed and that impacted our customers – pushing the boundaries of technology and banking is a learning curve and we focus on improving it with every solution that we put live. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t make mistakes, but what is key is the ability to critically look at yourself and your team, and identify what needs to change in order to improve.”

A knowledge worker
Bruce has 32 years’ experience in the technology field, most of it spent in the banking sector. He says he’s been in IT his entire life; however, he didn’t take the traditional route, and is not an IT expert by qualification, but rather someone who exemplifies what is coined as a ‘knowledge worker’.

“I unfortunately couldn’t further my studies after I matriculated, but I didn’t want to merely get a job that was available just to earn a salary. Instead, I made the decision to enter a field where you could learn a skill: something you could build on and something you could grow into – a skill that you could use in the future.”

Although Bruce was unable to further his studies, he was, however, selected into Transnet’s internship programme, which ran a Van Zyl and Pritchard equivalent course. “I learned how to become a COBOL programmer and worked on IBM databases and other mainframe systems before moving into UNIX and Microsoft technologies, where I obtained different certifications” he explains.

From there, Bruce went on a mission to acquire one IT skill after the another, which landed his first job with BMW, where he gained even more skills. He then moved on to Standard Bank and worked his way up the ranks, but later left the bank to go digital at TymeBank.

In his spare time, Bruce enjoys road running and pigeon racing, pigeon racing is a dying sport he says, mainly because it requires a lot of time and effort, and a place to keep the pigeons, which require big cages. “It’s a winter sport and so different from technology, and that’s why I like it. It also takes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to spend some time outdoors.”

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