Marianne Broadbent

Marianne Broadbent BA DipEd DipTLib MA PhD AMusA FAICD FALIA

  • Fellowship conferred 2004

Dr Marianne Broadbent's professional life is hallmarked by enterprise and initiative. Her career is the ultimate example of how far it is possible to travel with the skills and attributes which are the foundations of our profession. She has worked in the public and private sectors with equal success. She is as comfortable in gatherings of chief information officers from Boston to Basle as she is with us at our conferences. She is a prolific researcher and publisher, and one of the leading international protagonists regarding the role and potential of information as an essential element in the successful organisation.

She is an original thinker and is equally at home in both the academic context and the rather more unforgiving environment in which business information technology decisions, often involving millions of dollars, are made. Her doctoral thesis was forged in this crucible and was the catalyst which projected her from education for librarianship into the critical arena in which business and information management decisions are fused. Her personality is characteristically Australian: intellectually-robust, independent in speech and thought, and with an openness and directness which European, American and Asian cultures find refreshing and stimulating.

Within our own Association she has contributed widely as an educator, author, researcher and office-holder. She is once more a member of the Australian Library Journal's Editorial Board, a position which she first held in 1981. She served on the Library Association of Australia's Board of Education at a critical time in the evolution of syllabi in the schools of librarianship, and her down-to-earth approach to seemingly intractable questions of balancing the Association's ambitious prescriptions for course content and teaching with the sometimes more detached views obtaining in the academy was invaluable.

She has been a regular speaker at ALIA gatherings and through her conference presentations, her publications and independent consultancies has made a unique contribution to the literature and the theoretical and practical bases of the profession, particularly in the newly-emergent discipline of information management. She has also assisted with the organisation of conferences in our own and related fields, and has been a council member with such institutions as the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Museums. She is that welcome creature, a citizen-librarian.

She is a prolific writer: at last estimate, her bibliography contained well over five hundred items, many of them contributions to refereed journals. She writes at a level which is accessible to intelligent readers who range from members of our profession to very senior executives in information management in the private sector. She has worked with thousands of such executives and is very conversant with the challenges they face in a volatile and evolving environment.

A recent crystallisation of her thinking can be found in her The new CIO leader: setting the agenda and delivering results published by the Harvard Business School Press and co-authored by Ellen Kitzis. This immensely-readable book has already sold its first impression: its distillation of dense theoretical concepts into a discourse which is highly-accessible and of great practical value ensures that it will remain a foundation text for some time to come. This is not her first best-seller: Marianne is also is co-author of Leveraging the new infrastructure: how market leaders capitalise on information technology also published by Harvard Business School. As a conference presenter she has won two international 'Best Paper' awards.

Her career in librarianship was distinctive enough: but it is what Marianne has built on those foundations which bears on the matter in hand. She has made, effortlessly, the leap from the world of the institution to the context of the corporation, and has thrived there. From the field of education for librarianship at RMIT she moved in the early '90s into the Melbourne Business School, which in the curiously hybrid mode which characterises the contemporary university lay half way between institution and corporation but inclining more, perhaps, to the latter. She was Associate Professor in Management of Information Systems there and visiting researcher at Boston University.

The Melbourne Business School was structured to operate as a business and Dr Broadbent's programs and initiatives were major income generators; the only 'government' money involved was by way of competitive government-industry grants. Her achievements there put that institution on the world map in the IT management area, with ground-breaking research, innovative executive education and Masters programs, and financially and intellectually rewarding arrangements with industry funders.

In 1998 she was recruited by the Gartner group where she worked in a number of roles and from 2000 was group vice-president leading the global research, development and knowledge assets team for their 2000-member chief information officer service worldwide and contributing US$80m to that company's overall revenues of US$850m. Based in Stamford, Connecticut, it is the world's largest advisor on the business uses of information technology, with an international client base of more than 10 000 organisations. Her contribution was recognised when she became a Gartner Fellow in 2003.

Following six years in regional and global roles she accepted the position of Associate Dean at Melbourne Business School from January 2004. Concurrently she was appointed to the chair of Management (Information Systems).

On 7 February 2005, she will be rejoining Gartner, this time as senior vice-president - Global Research Business Strategy. By way of background, this position places her amongst the top fifteen executives in a US-headquartered global US$860m per annum advisory and professional services firm that trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Her responsibilities are to co-lead major developments in Gartner's $450m 'Core Research' business. This business employs about 700 industry analysts and researchers (and its performance is critical to Gartner's share price).

To conclude: inside and outside her profession, Dr Marianne Broadbent is a most worthy candidate for the award of Fellow of the Australian Library and Information Association: her career and the objectives of the Association have followed close and congruent paths. She is a competent librarian in the widest and most contemporary application of that term, and a fully autonomous and respected member of the international business information technology community.

She has earned great distinction for herself and the profession in which her original and ground-breaking career had its origins. Our discipline has given her much, and she has made returns to it in generous measure. In terms of every one of the criteria which the Association has laid down for the assessment of candidates for the award of the Fellowship, she has made an outstanding contribution.