Photocreo Bednarek - stock.adobe
A difficult economy often means difficult times for IT leaders – pressure on budgets and resources, while still maintaining innovation and the need to improve competitiveness and quality of services.
These days, no boardroom doubts the importance of digital transformation, nor the critical contribution that technology must play in delivering results, whether in the private or public sector. All that adds up to a huge focus on the leaders responsible for digital, technology and data within any organisation.
Computer Weekly is privileged to get access to some of the top technology leaders in the world – and the details they share make fascinating reading for anyone looking to develop and implement an IT strategy to improve their business, support employees and enhance their careers.
Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 interviews with IT leaders in 2023:
Former Boots CIO Richard Corbridge was only three months into his role as chief digital and information officer (CDIO) at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when he talked to Computer Weekly, but he was already shaking things up in the department. Known as having one of the largest IT estates in Europe, DWP manages 50 million lines of code, which comes with huge complexity and scale. Corbridge explained why he is excited to help deliver the department’s vision of providing great services to benefit society.
Clare Lansley, CIO at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One, reflects on the role of the modern IT leader and says she’s lucky enough to be in her dream job: “I’ve been an F1 fan all my life.” While she’s a motor racing enthusiast, it’s not just the sporting environment of the role that appeals. Lansley, who joined Aston Martin F1 in July 2022, also enjoys the fast-paced nature of the industry. Success on the track is reliant on a combination of people and systems off it. Lansley says that inherent sense of connectedness – allied to her love for the sport – made taking the opportunity to lead technology at Aston Martin F1 an easy decision.
Athina Kanioura, chief strategy and transformation officer at PepsiCo, is an experienced executive who is on a mission to use technology to help change the operational processes of the multinational food, snack and beverage company for the better: “I want us to be a totally different company”. Kanioura says it’s important to understand the scale of the transformation. Rather than using digital systems and services to alter what the business does and how it operates, her aim is to use a range of tools and techniques to improve business efficiency, effectiveness and performance.
Stuart Hughes, chief digital information officer (CDIO) at Rolls-Royce, is driven by a desire to use data to give the aerospace and defence giant a competitive advantage. Formerly at JCB and LateRooms.com, Hughes became CDIO at Rolls-Royce in February 2019. He says the opportunity to find creative solutions to business challenges at one of the world’s most famous engineering firms was the kind of career opportunity he’d been craving.
Retailer Walmart has a 25,000-strong IT team and it is big on technology. Enterprise business services is effectively the IT department at the retail giant. Headed by senior vice-president David Glick, the department’s role is to support employees: “When you turn on your laptop, that’s part of enterprise business services,” says Glick. “When we close the books every quarter, that’s part of enterprise business services.” Under the leadership of chief technology officer Suresh Kumar, Glick says Walmart has transitioned to building software in-house rather than taking the route of sending out a request for proposals and bringing in software providers.
Andrew Curry is an experienced data leader who’s using his surfeit of knowledge to help one of the world’s biggest companies embrace digital transformation. Curry joined oil and gas giant ExxonMobil after graduating with a degree in IT from college in 1999. Today, he’s fast approaching a quarter of a century with the company – and that period has provided him the opportunity to work across a range of roles. His latest position is manager of the firm’s Central Data Office, which was created at the start of May 2023 when the data team left the IT division. Curry says the creation of the office was a key first step towards the execution of enterprise-wide data principles.
Lalo Luna, global head of strategy and insights at Heineken, is a man on a mission. Having developed a range of data leadership skills at blue-chip businesses, his priority now is to use that knowledge to help the brewing giant make the most of emerging technologies and the treasure trove of information the company holds. Luna says decentralisation is a crucial element of the broader organisation’s structure and his team’s efforts to make data available to line-of-business employees.
In 2020, foreign exchange company Travelex entered administration, after the Covid-19 pandemic and a major attack by cyber criminals caused major losses. Today, it’s plotting its future, with digital technology at the core. Now, with new investors, Travelex and its 350 IT professionals are on a digital transformation journey, which includes reforming its operations through cloud computing and customer-facing apps. But Hans van der Waal, Travelex’s global IT director, who joined in March 2019, admits that when he arrived there were some digital transformation projects in place which were “not entirely successful”.
You can tell you’ve made it to the top of the competitive world of digital leadership when you become synonymous with your company’s data strategy. Data Bob – or Robert Michael, as he’s otherwise known – is group head of data at retailer DFS. He was the company’s first data chief and his efforts to turn information into insight have made him a well-respected figure at the furniture brand. “I didn’t give myself the nickname; it was given to me when I arrived. But it has been a huge benefit in terms of going out and selling the idea and the concept of data management across the organisation. It’s helped to break down some barriers,” he says.
Experienced retail technologist Adam Warne made an important transition when he became CIO at high street fashion brand River Island in October 2021. “I’ve been in retail for 20 years now; technology for 25 years,” he says. “But until I joined River Island, all of my experience had been with digital pure-plays. One of the big things I recognised was that I had a huge hole in my CV. I couldn’t call myself a retailer if I’d never coped with stores before.” More than 18 months later, he’s led a range of digital transformation initiatives that include changes to enterprise systems and pioneering technological innovations.