Post-truth, Brexit, Donald Trump, it has certainly been a tumultuous 2016 and all three have had an economic impact, yet despite these challenges, 2016 has been a good year for CIO role changes. Given I am probably becoming a veteran observer, I’d suggest 2016 was as strong a year for CIO role changes as the previous two.
My observation is that despite the challenges Brexit and whatever else the wider world throws at us, enterprises largely see technology as one of the ways to counteract and survive these challenges. That being so, organisations need a strong leader for business technology and innovation. The strength of CIO role changes in 2016 is also a testament to the CIO role since the financial crisis of 2008 and beyond. Up to 2008 CIOs were tarred with the old brush of being buyers of technology for technology sake; 2008 to 2016 saw the CIO become central to an organisation’s ability to adapt and meet the challenges of digital disruption, austerity and a financial crash. Therefore as we head into 2017 it unsurprising that organisations as diverse as gaming (William Hill hired Carlson Wagonlit CIO Kevin O’Conner in January) to car park providers (Apcoa has just hired former glh hotels CTO Chris Hewertson) have their innovation and technology strategies under new stewardship. As William Hill gained O’Conner it’s CTO took on a new role at telecoms challenger Lebara in April.
Looking at the year’s role changes it is clear too that the tenure of a CIO role remains strong, roughly four to five years per role; and CIOs do not face the threat of a sacking in the manner of an underperforming Premiership football manager in the way they did pre-2008.
Time on the vendor’s bench remains an important part of the CIO career path. This year saw former Boots and Cooperative technology leader Jonathan Varden return to the CIO fold at Provident Financial Group having spent just over two years at UST Global and James Thomas joined medical research body the Wellcome Trust in April from Atos. Going the other way Eurostar CIO Antoine de Kerviler headed back to France to lead R&D at travel technology provider Amadeus.
The public sector has also seen major leadership changes; Geoff O’Connell has left the capital to take on the CIO role at Norfolk County Council and public sector body Socitm, whilst Paul Brocklehurst completed a long career with Surrey County Council to return to his financial services roots as CIO for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Joining Brocklehurst in switching from the public sector to financial services, former HMRC CIO Mark Dearnley joined Premium Credit in November. Mark Adams-Wright returned to the public sector as CDIO for Buckinghamshire County Council after a few years vendor side with Telefonica, while Claudette Jones moved from local government to education in August (most popular story on Facebook).
In retail and leisure, outdoors and motoring store Halfords lost its CIO Anna Barsby to supermarket chain Morrisons and the National Trust lost Sarah Flannigan to nuclear energy firm EDF. In May Halfords secured Littlewoods CIO Liz Robson as CIO and corporate travel firm Carlson Wagonlit recruited NBC Universal’s Andrew Jordan as its CTO.
A hot June saw Steve Homan departing tabloid newspaper firm the Daily Mail, creating a path for Heather Utech as on the same day Danny Attias left the world of employee services for the Anthony Nolan Trust charity. June also saw Tim Coles leave agricultural and building machinery makers JCB for the builders of the Raspberry PI computer and Laterooms’ Stuart Hughes dig into the JCB role. Another midlands based CIO specialising in moving objects was Jeremy Vincent, leaving luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover following an eight year stint; by the autumn Vincent had swapped cars for trains as he became CIO of Network Rail. While Daryl Salmons left outsourced utilities firm Amey for packaging maker DS Smith.
During a recent Horizon podcast recording leaders from the world of search said interim recruitment rose significantly over the summer, in part due to economic conditions, whilst others report interims are delivering the results that years of consultancy has failed to do so. Serial interim Rachel Murphy completed her tenure at the Nursing and Midwifery Council and joined NHS Digital as its Digital Delivery Director, again on an interim role.
Unusually compared to previous years there was little let up during the summer of 2016, Rod Carr moved from energy firm Centrica to energy engineering firm AMEC Foster Wheeler and was replaced by Mike Young, trading the world of advertising for gas and electricity. In Europe British CIO Rob James left the world of pharmacy for recruitment services provide Adecco.
In healthcare Will Smart stepped up from an NHS Trust CIO role to that of leading technology and innovation for the entire NHS England, as he recently told Horizon in our podcast debate with Horizon columnist Richard Corbridge.
As 2016 draws to a close, a flurry of CIO job moves continue to demonstrate that organisations require strong business focused leaders. Former Foreign Office CIO Tony Mathers joined nuclear arms firm AWE in November, Andy Williams left Save the Children for global supply chain firm Havi and insurance leaders RSA added to their technology team with CTO David Germain. If you thought the year was about to retire, think again, retirement home builders need CIOs as Tracey McDermott joined McCarthy & Stone and the appointment of Raoul Lustermans at Medina, a dairy firm, was all because the Windsor firm is growing and securing contracts from supermarkets and coffee shops.
A straw poll of search leaders suggests 2017 will be a strong year for CIO role changes, the evidence of 2016 suggests that to be the case. Not even the two most shocking democratic acts of the last few decades can change the course of business; business requires technology, which requires leadership.
2016 CIO job changes at a glance:
Wellcome back, leading healthcare CIO James Thomas will leave Atos for major role at global health research charity