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When chatting with Michael, it was interesting to also explore his interests outside of his career. He is a lover of music, but many didn’t know that.

Updated: Feb 13

CHAT SESSION 42 with Michael Ciavarella

Topic- Teamwork, Responsibility, Integrity; non-negotiable values

Catch up and listen to our chat session


Monday 12th Feb 2024 1pm


To many, an interest in working with people, technology and music would seem like several diverse career paths, but Michael Ciavarella has spent his life working with all.


When l spoke to Michael, he explained “I grew up in a large family, loved sport and quickly learned the importance of teamwork. In our family, we all have a role, we all have fun, but it’s known that if you want the reward of the fresh “produce” (on our annual tomato sauce day), everyone puts in the work. This taught Michael early on, the importance of teamwork, responsibility, and integrity; these are non-negotiable values he holds today.


Combining a value set which was instilled from family values at a young age, with a passion for people and technology has led to a career which has spanned over 20 years. Michael has become a progressive leader with global experience across Digital, Technology, Innovation and Data.


Michael started his career at Honda, building several HR systems and rolling them out company-wide. He then shifted into ecommerce working with Honda dealers on mobile apps and websites for customers. Michael then went to Manheim, an organisation selling second-hand vehicles through auctions, having a key role of transforming a physical auction business into an online one. During his time their Michael project managed all initiatives in the Digital domain, including several which were a first in the country and across the globe.


From there, an opportunity arose at Telstra, where they were commencing their digital transformation. Looking at ways to drive customer advocacy were front of mind for Michael and the team. He worked across several roles, including General Manager of Personalisation and Marketing. Michael is extremely thankful to Telstra and their leaders who provided a great pathway for him.


He was then approached to head up innovation at Target. Operating with a much smaller budget initially, but with the need to move as fast as possible in a competitive industry. After delivering value early, the role expanded to include the additional domains of Data and Analytics, Corporate systems, and the integration of data. Michael drove experimentation, testing and learning, human-centred design, and design thinking. A fantastic learning ground for all, given the time where consumers were shifting to online exploration and shopping. One of his greatest achievements with his team was creating a new revenue channel which provided in excess of $80 million incremental growth within 12 months, the most successful digital initiative in the organisation’s history.


Swimming Australia, the national body for Swimming, were seeking a General Manager for their Technology department. They were looking to recruit an individual who also had experience across Data and Digital. They made Michael an offer and the successes achieved during his employment at Swimming was mind-blowing!


There aren’t many technology leaders who can say they helped their country chalk up their most successful Olympic Games performances to date. But that’s what, Michael Ciavarella, and his team managed to do in the two years preceding the delayed Tokyo Olympics held in 2021.


Ciavarella, who reached No.8 in the 2021 CIO50 awards (a national award for the top 50 CIO’s across Australia), had what many would consider the unenviable task of bringing a federated, not-for-profit organisation—founded in 1909—into the digital age, through a mindset shift and a scalable architecture, including the deployment and use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that enshrined data as king.



Michael constructed a Technology strategy, Digital strategy, changed the organisational mindset. He introduced new governance methods across the sport and uplifted efficiency by over 1100% in less than 12 months. He was instrumental across Technology partnerships with organisations such as Amazon, Microsoft, and others. Michael and his team also resurrected a troubled initiative which needed significant TLC; it is now regarded as the benchmark across membership and event-based systems across Australian sport. They launched new products to the market at speed never witnessed in the sport, established long lasting strategic partnerships, and built all the platforms for Swimming to continue in its success. It wasn’t too long after the Tokyo Olympics, where Michael was headhunted; In April 2022, Ciavarella became Chief Technology Officer at Melbourne-based online fashion house A&S Labels, which sells Tigermist and I.AM.GIA labels internationally.


Michael’s experience across many different industries is one of his strengths. He believes, “Changing industries means I’m constantly learning. It also means I can bring a different perspective and seek to understand what customers are looking for. Customers don’t have a bias on what industry you’re in, they simply expect a great service. If you don’t provide a great service, your competition will. When you combine Technology and Digital with a genuine interest in your customer you can provide a leading service whether you’re a retailer, telco, or sporting organisation”.


When chatting with Michael, it was interesting to also explore his interests outside of his career. He is a lover of music, but many didn’t know that. Since 1999 he has been running his own business as a DJ. In fact, he was awarded winner of the Central Station DJ series in 2001 and unanimous champion of the Australian Mix my vinyl several years later. Michael has gained a strong reputation as a DJ and producer delivering smooth sounds covering multiple genres, including vocal house, disco, retro and funk. An impressive resume including radio, high profile corporate functions, weddings, engagements, exclusive bars, and nightclubs.


In the last 18 months, Michael also became a Member of the board of directors at Volleyball Victoria, where he participates in the strategic management of Volleyball in Victoria, providing advice on Technology, Digital, Marketing, Data, and Sport Growth.


For the last 3 consecutive years, Michael has been externally nominated and listed in top 50 Technology executives in the country (CIO50).


He keeps active through sport and time with his wife and three children.


Michael has no idea how he finds the time to do all this but looks forward to a chat with Cathy on ‘The Daily Mirror’ at Rppfm 98.7 where he can share his inspiring journey to date with a wider audience.


"Michael DJed our schools Gala night earlier this year organised by our Parents and Friends, as well as our recent staff Christmas party. He sure knows how to read the crowd as the dance floors were jam packed, making sure that they stay like that. Also, very accommodating regarding requests and when asked what song to play for the finale or can we use the microphone. Loved his work! Would definitely seek him again".

Lina C/O St. Christophers Community

Follow Michael on socials or book him for your next event!



My hope is that when you’re looking at yourself in the

‘The Daily Mirror’




To get in touch with Cathy email 

'The Daily Mirror' acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and acknowledges and pays respect to their Elders, past and present.

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