Champion for digital transformation

09 Jun, 2022

A trailblazing role spearheading the digital transformation of a leading fresh produce distribution business has cemented Avinash de Silva’s place in New Zealand’s fast-growing IT sector.

Technology and Platforms Manager at Fresh Direct NZ, Avinash is the mastermind of a high stakes project to transition the company into a cutting-edge cloud-based ecosystem.

His efforts have earned him industry recognition as a finalist in the prestigious NZ CIO Awards as Emerging ICT Leader of the Year.

“At Fresh Direct I’m looking at every system and piece of IT they have, understanding what the issues are, and creating a plan to move them across to really cool futureproofed technology and platforms that will help everybody, from the warehouse worker right through to the Board of Directors,” says Avinash, who graduated from AUT with a Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Mechanical Engineering in 2016.

Currently working towards his Master of Information Governance in his spare time, he’s a man who loves his work.

“I came to New Zealand from Sri Lanka as an immigrant with no network, but from the day I started working I’ve been fortunate to have amazing mentors. My rise in the industry has been quite fast and sometimes I feel a bit of imposter syndrome - but being recognised in the NZ CIO Awards has definitely helped with that!”

Since graduating from AUT Avinash has navigated a “topsy turvy” career trajectory, from mechanical engineering, to supply chain management, and finally to IT.

But the skills he developed during his bachelor’s degree have laid rock-solid foundations for success across all his chosen fields. “The course taught me a unique set of skills that have served me throughout my entire career - specifically how to look at problems, identify the root cause, and find solutions. The programme was extremely versatile and very relevant to New Zealand. It’s been easy to find work referencing these skills.”

At Danone Nutricia, he coordinated the flow of raw materials and scheduled production across multiple manufacturing lines, while at Datacom he helped build the Dynamics 365 HR practice and led HR implementations across a string of medium to large enterprises. He became a familiar speaker at business symposiums and events, and was featured on the cover of Datacom’s website, annual report and marketing collateral.

“Being the face of a billion-dollar company was surreal, very strange and definitely one of my biggest achievements to date.”

But what Avinash is most proud of is his success as a mentor, both at Fresh Direct and through his volunteer work with Upside Youth Mentoring.

“I recently hired someone at Fresh Direct and he was so excited to work with me. The mentors I have had in New Zealand have helped me so much, and it’s so rewarding to know that I can be that person to others now.”

Read more inspiring alumni stories

This story was originally published in Insight, the magazine for AUT alumni and friends. Read the most recent issue of Insight for more stories of groundbreaking research and great AUT graduates who are making a difference around the world.

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