"It was sold as a transformation and that appealed to me," says Holling.
""I actually strike an analogy to being a CIO in a technology company where there is a huge amount of expertise, quite relevant to the work that I need to do," but where that expertise does not sit in his domain. The challenge he sees is; "How do you knit together a community of interest to take advantage of the people in the organisation, but then have the capability to go about ... establishing the right governance process that taps into the expertise, but directs the university quite crisply and concisely around what it needs?"
Holling has been working on a blueprint for the university that will see new executive groups formed to come up with ideas, oversee investment decision making and monitor execution.
"The key challenge the university has is it's had a very robust capital programme around buildings - lecture theatres, libraries, cafeterias and in dollar terms that far outweighs the investment in IT but if the university wants to grow its student population from 40,000 to 50,000 by 2020, which is the goal, it isn't going to do it by building more lecture theatres. It can only serve the needs of those students with a blended learning strategy that is far more ICT enabled."
Holling believes that applied wisely ICT can become a competitive differentiator. "I don't know if students next year will make a decision about their university of choice due to how IT-enabled it is - but over time we will all develop different reputations and it will start to matter."
Over his career Holling has seen IT come to matter more and more.
A freshly minted 50 year old, Holling was born in New Zealand where he lived until he turned 23. The oldest of three, Holling's mother was a housewife, his father a plumber and drain layer and when Holling graduated from Canterbury University with a degree in computer science he was the first in his extended family to do so.