CIO interview: Federico Florez Gutierrez, Ferrovial

Armed with a Naval engineering degree, Federico Florez Gutierrez set course for a career in senior IT

Armed with a Naval engineering degree, Federico Florez Gutierrez set course for a career in senior IT. Today he is CIO at Spanish conglomerate Ferrovial.

Ferrovial, which had revenues of more than $8bn in 2013, is involved in the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of transport and commercial infrastructures. In the UK it owns and operates Heathrow, Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow International airports and is a major investor in the London Underground. It has more than 60,000 employees worldwide.

Gutierrez began working in IT at IBM and has since held CIO roles at suppliers Alcatel and Telefonica.

Just before he joined Ferrovial as CIO he held the same role at Bank of Spain.

In his current role he is responsible for IT, innovation and is the chairman of the companies purchasing committee at the company. 

Gutierrez says the CIO has to wear multiple hats today as technology changes promise businesses more than just operational efficiency.

“I have three roles: as the CIO, I am in charge of IT for the company; as Innovation Officer I coordinate the business innovation function applying our open innovation methodology, and as chairman of the Purchasing Committee I lead the purchasing function for common families within the group,” he says.

Gutierrez thinks IT is complex at Ferrovial owing to the variety of businesses in the group. For example, the IT team has to manage local applications and vertical applications and it centrally manages the communications, IT purchasing and IT security, for the entire group.

Ferrovial manages assets, which it acquires or builds. To this end, one of its biggest challenges is to create applications that integrate a new asset or company quickly. 

“We also need management procedures and technology to gain efficiency as well as business innovation to be different and better than our competitors,” adds Gutuierrez. 

The regularly talked about SMAC stack of social, mobile, analytics and cloud are also high on Gutierrez’s agenda.

In fact, Ferrovial’s biggest IT project now is around business intelligence and it is exploring big data use.

The company has been using cloud computing for years and is currently expanding its use.

“We have used the cloud for three years for email and human resources applications and now we are implementing cloud for travel expenses and purchasing,” says Gutierrez.

But he adds that despite its obvious advantages the company does not use it for core applications and has not developed to fit the cloud.

“We use cloud, and it is useful because of cost and time savings, but we only use it for non-core applications, and also use it as it is, and do not developing around it."

Meanwhile the company is using social media for internal collaboration.

Gutierrez says that change to the CIO role is immanent as a result of the evolution of IT services through developments such as the SMAC technologies: “I foresee a big change. IT is everywhere but in a different way, you have outsourcing, Software as a Service, and cloud and you have to manage technology with a different view.”

He says at the same time IT is offering more to the business and potentially contributing more to business growth: “Business can gain competitiveness and differentiation through IT, so business demands more IT projects but needs real business value.”

Other areas where CIOs will become more involved, according to Gutierrez, is innovation: “This is critical and IT is a tool to help companies achieve it. The CIO, like in my case, could lead this function.”

Gutierrez says he values education and has taken courses at educational establishments, including, Insead, Harvard, MIT and Cranfield.

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