Visionary Leader, Innovator and Change Catalyst leading YMCA into a digitally-savvy future!
Life is an ever-evolving journey filled with ups and downs, challenges and triumphs. As we navigate through the twists and turns, we are constantly presented with opportunities for growth and self-improvement. One of the most profound commitments we can make to ourselves and others is the decision to continue being the best version of ourselves and to be a positive influence on those around us.
One distinctive individual who zealously abides by this philosophy is Shane Riddle, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at YMCA. With a career spanning decades, he has carved a niche for himself as an accomplished professional; driving business process improvement, technological innovation and inspiring high productivity levels.
From the outset of his career, Shane displayed a rare blend of strategic thinking and tactical prowess. His ability to envision long-term goals while implementing rapid and sustainable improvements earned him recognition and accolades throughout his journey. Combining a deep understanding of finance and technology with a keen eye for business operations, he consistently delivers bottom-line results and exceptional customer outcomes.
At the heart of Shane’s leadership style lies positivity, innovation and open-mindedness. He fosters an environment that encourages fresh ideas and transparent communication, welcoming feedback from his team to foster excellence. His approachable demeanor and collaborative nature has earned him the admiration of peers and colleagues, leading to the seamless integration of technology with organizational goals.
As the CIO at YMCA Victoria, Shane’s role has been pivotal – especially in times of crisis. When faced with the unprecedented challenges posed by the global pandemic, his leadership was put to the test. Guided by agility and adaptability, he navigated through uncertainties with a focus on the organization’s survival. His swift decision-making and ability to empower his team to respond quickly proved to be invaluable during this tumultuous period.
Shane’s journey at YMCA Victoria has been nothing short of inspiring. From building rapport with the executive team to spearheading crucial initiatives, he has demonstrated exceptional leadership in challenging times. His commitment to self-improvement is evident in his continuous pursuit of knowledge, including qualifications in business, project management and human resources.
Join us in discovering the visionary CIO, Shane Riddle, as he continues to inspire and lead YMCA Victoria toward a brighter and technologically empowered future
YMCA Victoria: Advancing Community Engagement
A longstanding not-for-profit organization serving the Victorian community since 1853, YMCA Victoria operates in a wide range of industries and locations across the region. With a workforce of approximately 5,600 employees, the organization’s diverse services encompass facility management, aquatics, health and wellness, youth services, community development, stadium operations, gymnastics, skate services, children’s programs, camping and student accommodation.
- Facility Management
- Health & Wellness
- Youth Services
- Community Development
- Skate Services
- Children’s Programs
- Student Accommodation
In January 2020, Shane assumed the position of Executive Head of Technology and Strategy at the YMCA Victoria on a full-time basis. His primary responsibility was to oversee all technology and strategy-related aspects within the organization. Shane’s main objective was to evaluate the entire organization and create a comprehensive strategy to enhance community engagement for YMCA Victoria. This involved addressing internal processes and governance, streamlining them for effectiveness, and utilizing technology to advance the YMCA’s mission.
Prior to Shane’s appointment, YMCA Victoria had faced challenges in technology implementation, leading to delays and unsatisfactory outcomes across the organization.
In May 2021, the YMCA Board approved an IT strategy that involved a systematic review and replacement of nearly all transaction systems within the organization. This approach allowed YMCA Victoria to focus on its core mission rather than being burdened with back-end processing.
Through the implementation of automation and efficient processes, unnecessary time and activities were eliminated while maintaining appropriate governance for an organization that interacts with children and the community. This helped minimize the overhead usually associated with such activities.
Furthermore, YMCA Victoria has taken the opportunity to assess its systems and processes from a customer perspective. By analyzing customer experience data and mapping it to specific touchpoints, YMCA Victoria is gaining deeper insights into the critical moments that influence customer behavior.
Identifying these key micro-moments are enabling YMCA Victoria to better engage and serve its customers, resulting in an enhanced overall experience for them. The organization’s focus on improving technology and customer-centric strategies has helped it progress toward achieving its mission and fostering stronger connections within the community.
Fostering Collaboration and Adaptability
Within the first six weeks of joining YMCA Victoria, Shane conducted an initial assessment of his team’s capabilities and was confident in eliminating the previous command and control process. Instead, he set clear expectations and fostered open communication, empowering his team to take ownership and respond quickly to the fast-changing environment. This shift in the team’s operating style proved to be highly beneficial, increasing motivation and engagement while enabling the agility and adaptability required during that time.
As a leader, Shane understands that leadership involves more than just giving orders or coming up with ideas. His approach focuses on creating an environment that encourages creativity and collaboration. He actively brings the right people together, giving them a voice and promoting idea generation. Additionally, Shane identifies areas that need improvement and supports his team’s growth and development journey.
He considers himself fortunate to have a team of capable individuals who trust and rely on him for mentorship and guidance as they evolve into leaders themselves.
Building team morale is a top priority for Shane, especially in the current hybrid work mode, with some team members in the office and others working remotely. Inclusion is crucial to maintaining team cohesion, and regular check-ins help keep everyone connected and focused on the YMCA Victoria’s mission. Furthermore, he ensures there is time for non-work-related activities to foster a sense of fun and camaraderie.
The team positively responds to this approach, creating an open and safe environment where they can collaboratively tackle the challenges they encounter.
Balancing Technical Expertise
In his leisure time, Shane finds enjoyment in reading, particularly technical books and manuals. However, he also takes occasional breaks from these materials to delve into leadership books, which aid in the further development of his own thinking in this area. One of the recent books he read was “The Infinite Game” by Simon Senik, where the concept of finite and infinite mindsets in the business world is explored.
While Shane doesn’t fully align with Simon’s perspective, recognizing that the real world often involves various shades of gray, he finds the book to be insightful and thought-provoking. It encourages him to introspect on his own approach and motivations in different endeavors.
Shane’s dedication to self-improvement and gaining deeper insights to assist others is evident. In addition to his technical qualifications, he has pursued business qualifications, including completing an MBA. He also holds several projects and change management certifications and has undergone Human Resource training. Presently, Shane is engaged in studying Training and Assessment to equip himself with the ability to educate and share his knowledge with aspiring IT professionals coming through the education system.
Through the course of the last few years and into the next two, Shane will oversee the replacement or enhancement of every transaction system within YMCA Victoria. Whether it’s the membership and point of sale (POS) system across 100 sites for YMCA Victoria’s Recreational service line, or replacement of the Finance teams ERP system, every system and platform will be reviewed and replaced. One very notable replacement was the replacement of the telephony system. Consolidating 5 different platforms into the one, including moving 3 contact centres onto the one platform.
Resilience During the Pandemic
Just a few weeks after Shane joined YMCA Victoria, the Covid19 pandemic struck, leading to widespread business closures as mandated by government restrictions. Despite the challenging circumstances and the devastation it had on many of its staff, YMCA Victoria managed to achieve significant accomplishments by embracing technology and innovation during this tumultuous period. Shane assumed the role of Chief Information Officer with the YMCA during the early days of the pandemic on a full-time basis to navigate through the unprecedented challenges.
In March 2020, it implemented substantial changes to its operations and work processes in compliance with state government directives. Non-essential physical spaces and buildings, including recreational centers, camps, pools, and offices, were closed to ensure the safety of staff and members.
The Australian Federal Government introduced the JobKeeper initiative in April 2020, offering valuable assistance to thousands of YMCA staff members. However, implementing this initiative posed various challenges.
The JobKeeper Proposal underwent a legislative process through the Australian parliament, taking several weeks to finalize. Initially, specific details on the implementation process and YMCA Victoria’s responsibilities in facilitating staff self-nomination for the payment were unclear.
Subsequently, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) released a form that employers, including YMCA Victoria, had to collect to determine staff members’ eligibility for the payment. It took on the responsibility of collecting and holding these forms and provided the necessary information to the ATO regarding the number of eligible staff members.
During this time of uncertainty, Shane and the YMCA’s staff demonstrated resilience and adaptability, working diligently to ensure the organization’s continued operations and support for its employees amidst the challenges posed by the global pandemic.
This presented a real challenge for them as they had 1000’s forms to process and needed to ensure;
The staff was assisted in determining their eligibility based on the ATO guidelines. Self-nominating staff members were required to submit the necessary forms, which the organization collected. To handle the significant monthly JobKeeper payments and potential ATO audits, the organization established a system to gather and incorporate this information into the payroll process. Recognizing that the program would last for 13 pay cycles (with the possibility of extensions) and staff circumstances could change, the organization knew that a manual approach would not suffice given the size of the task. Additionally, they had a tight deadline of just over a week to ensure that their staff received back payments before the end of April.
To address this complex, dynamic and urgent task, Shane utilized technology to inform all relevant stakeholders and process over 3000 eligible staff members. PowerApps and 365 Dynamics were leveraged for this purpose:
- A replica of the ATO form was built using PowerApps.
- Staff members were sent a unique encrypted URL via email, which allowed them to access their pre-populated form and review their individual circumstances related to JobKeeper.
- Upon clicking the link, the ATO form was presented with their information pre-filled, enabling staff to validate, complete, or update any incorrect or missing information and submit the form.
- A digital signature was created as part of the submission process.
- Copies of the form were sent to staff members, while signed copies were stored in Dynamics along with all form data attributes.
This solution automated the process, ensuring that only those who were nominated were extracted from Dynamics and processed into payroll. By reducing the time it took staff members to complete and return the forms, this approach removed a potential barrier to submission and increased the number of staff responses, thereby ensuring that they received the benefits and back pay. Moreover, it minimized human errors and reduced administrative hours, resulting in cost savings.
Utilizing Microsoft Dynamics provided a platform for support teams to address staff inquiries and review form completion over the weekend. The rapid turnaround had a significant human impact within the organization by securing JobKeeper payments during a challenging time. The organization received positive feedback from staff members for their handling of this important activity.
By adopting this technology approach, the organization was able to achieve several benefits. Firstly, they were able to automate their processes, which helped them meet a tight deadline. Additionally, this technology made their data more secure, traceable, and auditable, reducing the risk of human error. As a result, they were able to save costs and ensure that their staff received the full benefits of this technology. This successful implementation of technology also improved the visibility of the technology team and instilled a sense of pride within the organization. It marked a significant step towards embracing a digitally savvy and adaptable culture at YMCA Victoria.
Navigating Challenges as a Technology Leader
As a leader, Shane faced immense challenges during the pandemic, grappling with his own doubts and fears while navigating the uncertainties of the local and global crisis. The sudden loss of control over the work environment and the organization’s financial viability added to the complexity of the situation. As the technology leader in a not-for-profit organization like YMCA Victoria, his role became even more critical in finding innovative solutions to weather the storm.
Despite being relatively new to the YMCA, Shane recognized the importance of building trust and rapport with the executive team. The pandemic accelerated the need for the team to come together swiftly. Through transparency, collaboration, and open communication, Shane fostered mutual respect and a cohesive decision-making process within the team.
With just a week to implement the critical task of collecting and processing JobKeeper payments, Shane’s influence and leadership were instrumental in achieving success. The urgency of the situation and the potential human impact of any mistakes weighed heavily on him. He approached the task with a high level of responsibility and determination, understanding the significance of his role in ensuring the organization’s survival.
The rapidly changing and evolving information during the pandemic demanded agility and open-mindedness from him. Plans had to be adapted and modified multiple times a day as circumstances evolved. In response, Shane empowered his team to make decisions autonomously, allowing for greater efficiency and responsiveness in the face of uncertainty.
Throughout this challenging period, his leadership skills were put to the test. By fostering trust, promoting collaboration, and embracing adaptability, he played a pivotal role in guiding YMCA Victoria through the crisis. His ability to lead with resilience and empathy demonstrated the true essence of a visionary and compassionate leader.
Key Qualities of an Effective CIO
During the discussion on the essential qualities and skills of an effective Chief Information Officer, Shane emphasized the significance of active listening and understanding the business needs and drivers. This understanding is vital for aligning technology strategies with overall business objectives. Additionally, fostering trust among the team and executives promotes an innovative culture, encouraging experimentation and learning. This adaptability allows the organization to respond quickly to the ever-changing environment.
Personal Mantra for Success
Shane advised aspiring professionals to create a personal mantra that promotes growth and a positive mindset. He shared that he created his own mantra, which has always worked well for him and helped him stay focused and motivated, which is, “Continue to be the best version of myself and be a positive influence to those around me.”
The Vision of Inclusion and Impact
The YMCA’s Purpose and Vision is “To inspire and empower young people and communities to thrive and build a better tomorrow where all people can belong.”
It sees itself as an engaged community citizen, aiming to go beyond its needs and serve with a minimal ecological impact. It actively aligns with community values and utilizes its spaces to empower community leadership. YMCA Victoria values youthful and open-minded individuals who are passionate about shaping the future. Ultimately, they envision technology playing a significant role in facilitating and comprehending its impact on communities and young people.
- In 2017 Shane was listed in the top 50 CIOs in Australia by CIO Australia https://www2.cio.com.au/cio50/2017
- In 2020 he was asked to speak at the Microsoft Global CXO summit on the YMCA’s innovative approach to using MS power apps and CRM for the job keeper projected listed above. https://nonprofits.tsi.microsoft.com/EN-US/Nonprofit_CXO_Summit_2020/