Today, businesses that make the most of technology are the ones that thrive. But one thing that holds many organisations back is a lack of connection between business objectives and the technology that can enable them.
Early on in her career, Tyrene MacLennan, now the Senior Software Engineer at Walt Disney Company, experienced this lack of connection and collaboration first-hand working in the finance industry.
“Often the business just gives technology a list of requirements with the expectation that they would be met without any context of the business goals or needs,” Tyrene shares. “This leads to inefficiencies and higher costs for the business.”
Tyrene wanted to learn how to bridge this gap between business and technology. “My mother urged me to look into UNSW where I previously studied, and that’s where I found the AGSM MBA program.”
She decided to enrol in AGSM @ UNSW Business School’s MBAX (Technology) program, to understand how technology and business can work better together. Tyrene has been using the knowledge and skills she’s learned from the program to create positive outcomes ever since.
Tyrene’s first love was music. She originally studied for an undergraduate degree in music at UNSW to become a musician. But after falling into a role in technology, she channelled her creative energy into IT engineering.
“I really enjoy what I do. Technology is challenging. It moves fast and constantly evolves. And I love the challenge of trying to keep up with it,” Tyrene laughs.
The fast pace of change presents a huge challenge – and potential opportunities – to businesses. And this is where Tyrene sees the most value of close collaboration.
“By partnering with technology experts and platforms, businesses can really speed up the time it takes to recognise the advantages of new technologies – and implement them into their day-to-day. But technologists need to understand what the business is trying to achieve and what their end goals are.”
Soon after completing her MBAX, Tyrene was offered an opportunity to work for one of the world’s biggest brands – The Walt Disney Company.
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. Disney has such a diverse portfolio of businesses from media to entertainment. Everyone has different needs, different capabilities and there's different guidelines to adhere to. I like the challenge of constantly finding new and approved solutions for various businesses within the same company,” Tyrene says.
And the organisation also closely aligns business goals with technology.
“They’re constantly building that relationship and coming up with solutions together. Saying ‘here’s the solution we need for this year and here’s one that we should look at in five years’ time.’
“My MBAX gave me the foundations and frameworks to be able to have the right conversations and lead discussions. I can draw insights from the data I have and make recommendations to the business about what technology decisions we need to make in the near future.”
And thanks to the communication skills Tyrene learned during the MBAX Leadership course, she has been able to engage confidently with all levels of the company.
“The leadership subject was life-changing. I feel like I am more open now, always looking for a better solution with our partners, within engineering, and outside of my team network. Learning about all aspects of leadership helped me become a better employee, a better mum and a better human.”
Today, Tyrene works on multiple key projects at Disney. These include designing the company’s security email backbone while reducing its infrastructure footprint by leveraging cloud solutions – and simplifying technology solutions.
“As engineers, we can recognise where the business has a need to simplify technologies and make things more efficient for all employees. Making workflows a lot easier and simpler, freeing up their time to focus on customers.”
One of the key tools Tyrene uses in her role is an IT security standard and framework to minimise risk.
“It helps us analyse and mitigate risks. When we’re discussing implementing a new design, we start poking holes in it to find out where all the possible problems could come from before we get too far into the project. It’s one of our most valuable frameworks, and I use it almost daily.”
Tyrene says the Data Science course as part of her MBA also changed the way she looks at things.
“Everything can be backed up by data, especially technology. And now I see things this way I back everything up with data. I'll pull raw data, clean it up, remove the outliers and draw insights. We can identify trends, pinpoint where our utilisation has increased or where we need to increase capacity. I use data science in every part of my life now.”
But the biggest learning for Tyrene was how to synthesize information and use it to make informed decisions.
“I've got business information and technology information. Let's put them together and see what we get. And then let's discuss the results. What should we do with this? What is this going to look like for us in three or five years down the track? It's really fascinating stuff.”
Tyrene says when the objectives are clear, and there’s open communication, technology teams can help speed up transformation, improve the customer experience and give the business an advantage in the market. It can also help businesses reduce their infrastructure footprint, which leads to significant cost savings.
“The management side of the (MBAX) program gave me a lot of perspective on how businesses and organisations operate. While the more technical subjects gave me the confidence to ask the right questions,” she said.
“One that has been ingrained in me and I ask very frequently now is ‘How will utilising the latest technology advance the business and get ahead of its competitors?’”
Asking this question has recently allowed Tyrene to work closely with the business to harness multiple cloud technologies and reduce Disney’s physical infrastructure footprint. Leading to a simpler way the company reaches customers and offering a better experience.
Tyrene is incredibly passionate about creating a culture of sharing and collaboration - and fostering close relationships across all parts of the business.
“I think that the more we talk about the relationship between business and technology, as more of a collaboration rather than a service, the better. Technology is the backbone of most businesses. It’s there to help. And working together can often bring you to a solution that is second to none – and get you that competitive advantage.”
And her advice to other technologists looking to bridge the tech and business divide? Do an AGSM MBA.
“AGSM is one of the handful of business schools that combines an MBA with technical skills – helping you understand business and get better at your job. Doing an MBA will enhance your quality of work and you will likely have a better career because of it.”