Former Bank of England CIO joins Co-op Group as CTO

Rob Elsey joins the Co-op Group at a time when the organisation is undergoing major digital transformation

Co-op Group has created the new position of chief technology officer (CTO) and has appointed Rob Elsey, who recently left his position as CIO at UK financial services regulator the Bank of England.

Elsey will take up his new role before the end of this year. He will report directly to Shirine Khoury-Haq, CFO and CEO life services at the Co-op, and will be responsible for steering the company’s digital plans.

Khoury-Haq said the restrictions brought by the Covid-19 pandemic had shown the “increasing importance of technology and digital propositions – the role they play in our colleagues’, customers’ and members’ lives is here to stay”.

She added: “The CTO will play an instrumental part in helping us to maintain and build momentum in our marketplaces, as well as make meaningful differences to the lives of our members and communities.”

Elsey, who held senior IT roles at Vodafone and Cable and Wireless, has spent the past six years at the Bank of England, where he was originally CTO, but became CIO, responsible for technology, when former CIO John Finch left to become CTO at Thomson Reuters’ financial and risk business.

At the Bank of England, Elsey was responsible for technology, cyber security and programme delivery. Before that, he was CIO at Vodafone UK, responsible for its UK IT and digital platforms.

Elsey said: “The Co-op has always led with its values and is steeped in history. I’m proud to become a part of it.

“There’s real potential to develop what the Co-op does for members and customers”

Rob Elsey, Co-op Group

“This position comes at such an exciting time. Both technology and digital products are bringing so much opportunity right now, and there’s real potential to develop what the Co-op does for members and customers, as part of delivering its vision.”

After leaving the Bank of England, 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 18 months, given its critical role at the heart of the economy and the importance of its IT systems.”

The Bank of England is now looking for a replacement. As part of the job, the successful candidate will, among other things, take charge of the financial regulator’s project to replace a 25-year-old core system. The job advert said: “You will also be technical sponsor for the RTGS Renewal Programme, helping to lead this once-in-a-generation transformation.”

Gareth Lodge, analyst at Celent, said the bank will have its work cut out finding a replacement because there is a lot of competition from large organisations for skills such as those of Elsey, as they undergo digital transformations.

The Co-op Group offers a diverse set of businesses in sectors undergoing significant digital transformations, including retail, financial services and legal services. It is owned by four million UK customers, employs 62,000 people and reported a turnover of £11.5bn in its latest financial year.

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