The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a UNESCO world heritage site and home to the world’s largest collection of living plants, is currently looking for a transformational CIO to take the organisation forward as a digital pioneer.
This job is not gardening leave though, with the Gardens in West London being both one of the capital’s most visited tourist attractions as well as a global centre of scientific excellence and Wakehurst in East Sussex, housing the Millennium Seed Bank.
Kew Gardens is offering CIOs the challenge of delivering innovation in an organisation which is more than 250 years old and home to 30,000 different plants, making it one of the most important botanical reference sources in the world. The sites welcomes over 1.5 million visitors a year.
This new board-level role, reporting to Richard Deverell CEO, will be responsible for technology leadership, innovation and strategy across the whole organisation of Kew. To meet the changing needs of academia and research, Kew is looking for an innovation leader who can lead on transformational change to open up Kew’s knowledge to all its people, as well as the wider scientific community.
Alongside delivering research access to scientists, the CIO will need to further develop the commercial systems Kew has in place, such as the customer relationship management system that supports opportunities to expand visitor numbers to the Gardens, increase memberships and encourage legacies. Kew is part funded by government, but seeks to raise in excess of £30m per year in self generated income, commercial and philanthropic.
The board of RBG Kew has decided to bring in a senior business technology leader to deliver this an organisational-wide technology transformation.
Currently working with Kew to choose the right CIO, Sarah Flannigan, CIO with energy firm EDF and Trustee of RBG Kew, said: “Kew has obsolete systems and recognises the need to invest. But there’s a big data imperative too, because Kew has so much data and an obligation to share its knowledge with both the public and the scientific community but as yet has no meaningful way to do that”, Flannigan said, meeting Horizon at the famed Kew Gardens. Flannigan added that the situation is very similar to when she joined the National Trust six years ago with the same sense of there being a large challenge ahead but significant opportunity too.
The CIO selected by Kew will have strong engagement skills and a proven ability to connect with potentially the most diverse group of customers and needs imaginable. Kew is looking for a CIO with strong leadership skills who will find ways to work collaboratively engaging with staff across the organisation at all levels, who has a strong heritage in delivery and who strongly supports the work of Kew. Experience within a tertiary education research organisation is likely to be essential, alongside good experience with a range of commercial business systems.
Flannigan added: “There is a huge amount of commitment from the organisation to deliver, and the quality of the people at Kew is superb. This is a wonderful role, and a rare and genuine technology transformation opportunity, but, above all, it offers the chance to play a vital part in an organisation that does work of global importance”.
Kew is working with Hays to fill the role.