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Westpac appoints COO, combines tech and operations

11:52am July 28 2020

Westpac has appointed Scott Collary to lead a newly created Group Operating Office. (Getty) 

Westpac chief executive Peter King has made the third executive hire in as many weeks, appointing seasoned executive Scott Collary to lead a newly created Group Operating Office which brings together operations and technology.

Mr King said Mr Collary brings extensive financial services experience, most recently with the Bank of Montreal in Canada where he has held the role of chief information and operations officer for its North American personal and business banking, private wealth and global asset management divisions. Previously he held CIO roles with ANZ and Citigroup, following an extensive career with Bank of America and Fifth Third Bank.

“He has a proven track record of delivering large-scale transformation programs at major international banks that improve operating and technology performance,” Mr King said.

As chief operating officer, Mr Collary will oversee Westpac’s technology team, currently led by outgoing chief information officer Craig Bright, and the operations team formerly led by acting chief financial officer Gary Thursby, who Mr King today revealed had decided to leave the bank next year. The appointment of Mr Collary means Mr King has just one key role left to fill to complete his team, a new chief for the consumer division following David Lindberg’s decision to accept a role in the UK earlier this year.

Mr King said bringing technology and operations together was part of his focus to simplify the business and how it is run.

“Bringing group operations and group technology into a single division will help us to continue to drive our technology transformation agenda and accelerate work on simplifying our processes,” Mr King said.

Mr Collary’s appointment follows a busy period for Mr King since being confirmed as CEO in April, overseeing the bank’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and this month releasing the bank’s culture, governance and accountability reassessment. He’s also been solidifying his senior team, last week naming experienced investment banker Anthony Miller as chief of Westpac’s institutional bank and, the previous week, appointing KPMG partner Michael Rowland as CFO. In May he also brought in Jason Yetton as chief of a new Specialist Businesses Division and last month named Les Vance as Group Executive, Financial Crime, Compliance and Conduct.

Mr King thanked Mr Thursby for his significant contribution across a broad range of roles over 13 years with the group, noting he had been instrumental in developing the strategy, including Westpac’s fintech investments, as well as overseeing the implementation of open banking. Mr Thursby will act as CIO from September 25 when Mr Bright departs, before handing over to Mr Collary upon his commencement later in the year.

Emma Foster is a freelance writer. Previously, she led Westpac Wire and was a key contributor until December 2022. Prior to joining Westpac in 2013, she spent almost 20 years in corporate affairs and investor relations, primarily in large financial services and consultancy firms, in Australia, UK and Europe. She is also a photographer and podcaster.

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