​Government Chief Digital Officer Colin MacDonald resigns

Paul James of Ministry for Culture and Heritage takes on CDO and Department of Internal Affairs chief executive role in October

Colin MacDonald: Keen to continue to help further New Zealand's digital agenda

Colin MacDonald: Keen to continue to help further New Zealand's digital agenda

Colin MacDonald has resigned as Department of Internal Affairs CEO and government Chief Digital Officer.

Paul James, chief executive of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, will take on both the DIA CEO and government CDO roles in October.

Paul James
Paul James

The role of government Chief Digital Officer will transfer to Peter Murray who will also be acting chief executive at the Department of Internal Affairs when MacDonald steps down on 3rd of August. Murray is currently deputy chief executive information knowledge services at the DIA.

On his next career move, MacDonald says he is "keen to continue to help further New Zealand's digital agenda".


MacDonald has been CEO of the DIA and government CDO for the past six years. Before that, he was chief executive at Land Information New Zealand, and was also deputy commissioner at Inland Revenue Department, where his responsibilities included information technology.

Before joining government, he was chief operating officer at ANZ Bank and was also senior consultant at KPMG.

MacDonald took on IT leadership roles after completing a computer science degree in 1980 at the University of Glasgow. He then progressed to IT director roles in the UK. He is also a semi-professional musician, and is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of a band.

In an earlier interview with CIO New Zealand, MacDonald talked about his career ascent, having started in technology, then moving to CIO, COO and CEO.

"Technology is always interesting,” he says. "I have been privileged to have been in this career path."

He recalls his experience back when he started in technology roles.

“In those days, in the early '80s, it was essential the technology people led the way," he says.

“Technology was very much a leading edge activity and the technology leaders had to lead the way to show people what was possible.”

“Through the '90s, it must be business-led,” he observes. “Where we are now, in my view, [is] yes, the business must lead, but the business and and tech professionals must truly partner.”

“The job of the CIO now is not to run the legacy systems," he adds.

"You have to have somebody in your shop who is good at doing that, whoever it is. That [person] makes sure the day to day [operation] runs well."

“The job of the CIO now is to truly drive partnership with the business, as an equal partner.

"With really good CIOs, those opportunities to totally disrupt, totally change, to think quite differently, can be sprung," he says. "It is that equal partnership that will make the biggest difference.”

Colin MacDonald at the ANZ CIO Forum in Melbourne
Colin MacDonald at the ANZ CIO Forum in Melbourne

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