“Technology isn't the thing that keeps me working in this space, it's the impact that technology can have.”

For Alex Coates, the most satisfying part of leading Datacom’s Australian operations is understanding the role their work plays in people’s lives.

“What really motivates me is when we deploy technology to solve challenges or create new opportunities, and then we see the impact that has for our communities.” 

Better outcomes for communities

Over the past two years this impact has been more evident than ever with Datacom supporting the federal government’s Department of Health in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent deployment of Covid-19 vaccines across Australia.

“Our teams helped stand up remote working for thousands of staff, essentially rolling out a year of IT services in a couple of weeks, and our Connect teams have been a critical part of the frontline workforce.”

Another project that stands out for Alex is Datacom’s work with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, where the implementation of a new algorithm is helping potential kidney transplant recipients improve their chances of finding a donor match.

“These are life-changing projects. We get to support people when they need it most and play a role in saving lives. It’s a real privilege.”

Aside from using technology to support better health outcomes, Alex says she is also proud of Datacom’s work with government organisations helping them to better serve their communities.

Whether it’s helping ensure NSW commuters can access up-to-date public transport timetables, giving Australian councils the tools to support two-way communication and provide easy self-service options for their customers, or enabling Victorian Land Registry Services to achieve 99.995 per cent uptime for vital property records and transaction services.

“It’s easy for our teams to forget just how much Datacom is touching people in their day-to-day lives, but I want everyone who works here to understand that impact. That’s what makes our work exciting.”

Understanding customer challenges

Creating positive impacts for customers doesn’t happen by accident. Alex says one of the most important foundations for successful projects is taking the time to understand customer challenges.

“Meaningful solutions come from really understanding the problem. The past 18 months have highlighted some really challenging issues for different sectors like healthcare and our teams have done a great job at getting close to customers to understand what they needed and helping them find new ways to serve their patients and communities.”

Now, Alex says, there is an opportunity for Datacom to ensure these learnings around telehealth solutions and remote health services and monitoring are captured and shared with organisations within the industry.

“Helping companies evolve with the help of technology and find new ways of working is another really rewarding part of our work.”

Fostering talent, creating opportunities

In her ten years with Datacom, Alex has taken on several different roles, initially heading up Datacom Systems before taking on the role of COO and now Managing Director for Australia.

As a leader in the business, Alex says one of her priorities is ensuring that everyone feels like they have a voice and a part to play in the organisation.

“We’re a really big organisation but I want people to recognise they each have a place and because we are a large, local organisation there are a huge number of opportunities to learn new skills and move within the business.”

To support those career journeys, Datacom offers a range of initiatives including internships and graduate schemes, and the ‘Transform’ programme where people can retrain in cloud networks, cybersecurity and different tech platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics.

“We are building career pathways that support our people, including frontline customer-facing staff, to move right through the company.”

At a recent event for HerTechPath - an organisation in South Australia which aims to inspire more women to work in tech - Alex was asked about correcting the gender imbalance in the sector and she says flexible work environments have an important role to play.

“Good work environments need to provide flexibility to allow for the juggle of work and home, and we’re working to ensure our people feel supported to get the balance right for them.”

“No parent should have to feel like they need to make excuses for spending time with their children, so I make a point of ‘leaving loudly’ every Friday so I can pick my daughter up from school and people know that, with the exception of emergencies, dinner time is my family time.”

On being a good leader in the tech sector, Alex says she has always focused on being authentic.

“Don't change who you are, don't change your identity to fit the mould, just focus on building confidence in your own leadership style and getting the best from the people around you.”

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