Stephen Docherty, deputy IT director Europe for Sony Computer Entertainment, has been named the winner of City University London’s IBM Enterprise Computing scholarship. Docherty beat other applicants for a free place on City University London's Master of Information Leadership (MIL) course, which would normally cost £30,000.
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The part-time MIL qualification is designed for experienced IT professionals who wish to progress into a leadership role, such as a CIO. The course is led by the university’s Centre for Information in conjunction with the City Law School, School of Informatics, School of Arts, School of Social Sciences, and the Cass Business School.
Docherty said he applied for the scholarship because he has always considered taking a Masters course to develop his IT leadership skills.
“When I saw the details of the MIL, and the scholarship, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to apply. I'm delighted to have won the scholarship and believe it to be a fantastic opportunity,” he added.
Docherty said the course, which spans 10 weekends a year for two years, enables its students to interact with other IT leaders and CIOs. “The MIL will allow me to work with CIOs who want to give something back, so I can learn first-hand from experienced IT professionals,” he said.
Demanding and rewarding course
Last year’s scholarship winner, Peter Swingewood, from Cass Business School, said it is a demanding course, but the fact that it is taught by other IT leaders means the students get to interact with people already in leadership roles.
“I get a lot of feedback from the CIOs and other organisations that teach the course. I can then relate this back to my own job and apply it to a real-life situation that I might experience at my company,” he said.
As a result of this feedback, Swingewood said he has new-found confidence that will help him to move into roles that he may not have applied for previously.
“Before studying for the MIL, I would have been nervous about taking the reins as a head of IT," he said. "I have also managed to expand my network of IT professionals through this course, so now I feel like I have someone to turn to if I need support.”
Swingewood highlighted how he found a recent module on information law useful, because it gave him access to lawyers and academics from that industry sector.
“Talking to these people enabled me to gain their knowledge and expertise, but also allowed me to apply that back to my own role,” he said.
The MIL course will equip me with the skills and knowledge that will help me take my career to a new level
Stephen Docherty, scholarship winner
Looking for leadership potential
David Chan, director of the Centre for Information Leadership at City University London, said to award the scholarship the judges have to believe that the applicant has the potential to move from a mid-career level to a CIO level.
“The student must have a fascination with technology; however we don’t focus on technology during the course. It is an advanced management course for those aspiring to be a CIO, not a technology course for the CTO,” he said.
“The technology changes, but the underlying fundamentals do not – we teach them to be highly educated and equipped with the right skills to make the right judgement calls,” added Chan.
This year’s winner, Docherty, concluded: “I'm an ambitious individual and my aspirations are to become a top CIO in a global organisation. The MIL course will equip me with the skills and knowledge that will help me take my career to a new level. I'm really looking forward to starting the course and learning from senior executives across industry.”
The MIL scholarship is supported by Computer Weekly, and its editor in chief sat on the judging panel that selected the winner.