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Bank of England searches for new CIO amid once-in-a-generation project

The Bank of England is recruiting a head of IT during a period of major change in its core IT system

The Bank of England is looking for a new CIO to take on a role critical to the success of the UK economy at a time of major tech change.

Current CIO, Rob Elsey, has left the organisation after six years to pursue an opportunity outside the organisation.

Elsey was head of IT at Vodafone prior to joining the Bank of England in 2015, and replaced John Finch as CIO. He was responsible for all aspects of technology and programme delivery across the bank and ran its IT cyber security division.

The CIO and executive director for technology role reports to the chief operating officer (COO) and heads a department of more than 600 people.

Once recruited, his replacement will be the technical lead for the “once-in-a-generation” project to replace the regulator’s 25-year-old real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system, which settles hundreds of billions of pounds worth of transactions between banks each day.

Due for completion in 2025, the project will see the core system used to settle payments between banks, which is a critical part of the UK’s payments infrastructure, replaced with a system harnessing the latest digital technologies. On an average day, the system settles around £740bn worth of transactions.

“You will also be technical sponsor for the RTGS Renewal Programme, helping to lead this once-in-a-generation transformation,” said the Bank of England’s job advert.

Elsey told Computer Weekly: “It has been a hugely enjoyable and successful six years at the Bank of England. I have decided to take up an exciting new opportunity. It has been a real privilege to work for the bank, particularly over the past eighteen months, given it’s critical role at the heart of the economy and the importance of its IT systems.”

Gareth Lodge, analyst at Celent, agreed that the CIO role at the Bank of England is one that is critical to the UK economy. “Given the role that the Bank of England plays in the economy, this is a vital role at the best of times – handing over the reins to someone else midway through delivering a once-in-a-generation, mission-critical project will require great project management skills,” he said.

In 2019, when announcing the replacement of RTGS, Victoria Cleland, executive director of banking, payments and innovation at the Bank of England, said after talks with the regulator’s internal IT department, it is likely the bank will keep the existing system up and running alongside the new one for a period as a fallback.

Part of the challenge is ensuring all organisations that link in to the RTGS are also prepared for the cutover. “It is not just the Bank of England that needs to be ready – we need to know the whole industry is ready,” said Cleland.

Technology at the organisation also includes applications such as gold inventory management, as well as data ingestion and analytics platforms.

According to the job advert, the successful candidate “…will provide strategic technical leadership across our organisation, heading a technology rirectorate responsible for the design, build, maintenance and security of our technology estate, including critical national infrastructure which underpins our essential processes and activities”.

The new CIO will head up seven departments including digital platforms, product development, digital services and cyber security.

Lodge at Celent questioned the Bank of England’s ability to attract the right talent in an extremely competitive marketplace as banks across the world undergo their own digital transformation programmes.

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