CIO50 2022 #26-50 Annelle Paemaa, Mulpha Australia
For most people, Sanctuary Cove on Queensland’s Gold Coast, just south east of Brisbane, conjures images of perfect blue skies and pristine turquoise waters.
But for Annelle Paemaa, GM of IT and business systems Mulpha Australia – the company that bought the 7 hectares of waterfront land overlooking Sanctuary Cove Marina 20 years ago – it became a place where she and her team took on the unlikely challenge of applying digital technologies to lift investor returns.
In 2020, the Mulpha board approved an $8.3 million expansion to the marina to accommodate sixty-seven new berths, including larger vessels of 60ft, bringing the total number to 303.
And as Paemaa tells CIO Australia, the onus was very much on her and her technology team to lead the task of ensuring customers enjoyed a “fabulous experience”.
New hardware was deployed for accurately managing power and water spend. The entire marina booking system was moved off-premise from SQL to a SaaS-based platform called Harbour Assist.
The Access Control system was upgraded to Inner Range, Inegriti - allowing berth holders to access other services including the Sanctuary Cove Country Club Gym. The MyCheck ordering system for room service, dry cleaning and laundry services via QR Codes were supplied to each berth from the Intercontinental Hotel Sanctuary Cove (another Mulpha asset) delivering services straight to boats.
And in what Paemaa says is a first for the Southern Hemisphere, members were offered ‘covered’ berths, which are exceptionally durable and offer protection from UV damage, all-weather events, and bird droppings, albeit presenting “a challenge to ensure the structure would not play havoc with the wi-fi network”.
Now more than four years into the role, Paemaa oversees IT infrastructure for more than 20 businesses across various verticals including property development, hospitality, hotels and leisure, finance, education, real estate capital, education, car parks, car washes and more.
With the clear support of the company's CEO, Greg Shaw, Paemaa has been able to ensure that IT is engaged early in all due diligence processes with acquisitions and growth of existing businesses.
“To be able to influence fellow senior leaders and the executive team you need to build connections and listen to their business needs,” Paemaa tells CIO Australia, adding that meetings occur at least every month with every general manager to ensure she’s clear about each of their specific business requirements, pain points and strategy “so we can work and plan together”.
For instance, Paemaa notes that she and her team have helped develop strict due-diligence processes for large-scale investments that involve all divisions of the business.
“Having IT engaged early in these discussions assists us to take over and help support from day one.”
Having endured the consequences of IT being left behind in the past, this is something she now pushes strongly for in discussions with the CEO and general managers.
“IT is now at the forefront of business discussions and that is where we need to be”.