Interview – Duncan Cavanough, Head of IT & Operations, AFL Telecommunications Australia

Duncan Cavanough AFL BW

AFL Telecommunications Australia is part of AFL Global based in the US. AFL Global is subsequently owned by Fujikura Limited, Japan and employs over 4,500 people worldwide.

AFL provides industry-leading solutions, products and services to the energy, service provider, enterprise and industrial markets as well as a number of emerging markets.

Duncan’s role is to ensure the IT plan and systems supports the business to produce the most technical fibre optic cable and cable systems to meet future (not current) market demands. This not only encompasses IT, but operations, finance, logistics to ensure business continuity across all departments.

Originally Duncan started with one of the first Fibre Optic company’s’ in Australia back in 1994 called AFC Group. From this he has seen the internet and data expand to levels never thought of back then. AFL acquired AFC in 2015.


Q. What do you feel are the biggest challenges IT leaders are currently faced with within their business?

A. Fibre optics, being the backbone of the core network in today’s modern world, has always kept me at the forefront of what speeds and feeds can be achieved. In light of this, I see the biggest challenge of IT leaders is providing core networks that have enough capacity to meet the data hungry needs of society, and having the skill base to implement.

Q. As an IT leader, what do you feel businesses continue to get wrong when it comes to their marketing strategy?

A. We market to the ‘now’ which is hard because of the inherent nature of society, when we need to plan for the future. Like with road building and transport infrastructure, we look at how big we need it now, not how big it should be in 10-20 years time.

Q. What are the latest trends and behaviours you predict will be surfacing on the market over the coming 12 months?

A. I hope we get back to using technology to give ourselves personal time back. We seem to have so much tech, it takes most of the day to ‘check’ everything. Tablet, watch, smartphone, smart Tv, Ok Google, Hey Siri….we need tech to support lifestyle, not be a slave to it. If I had to identify something specific however, I see health monitoring (for the ageing population) and fitness trends utilising tech more.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you have received within your job over the years?

A. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. (Originally quoted by Grace Hopper, a Rear Admiral in the US Navy and one of the first computer programmers) Born 1906

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