CIO Profile: May Gurney's Ian Cox on contract management

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CIO Profile: Ian Cox of May Gurney puts IT on the road

In the four years since May Gurney IS director Ian Cox was appointed, the company has become a leading provider of essential services.

Clearly Cox has a good understanding of how to engage non-IT staff in technology projects. He puts this down to a well-rounded career that began, after he completed a maths degree at Southampton University in 1991, as a forecasting analyst at London Electricity.

London Electricity had just been privatised and requried forecasts on customer usage and wholesale prices in order to find new ways of charging for electricity products. Cox, who had some computer science experience from college, was forced to learn extra programming so that he could create some models.

Cycle of experience
During his time at London Electricity, Cox was sponsored for a masters in statistics and operational research and corporate finance at the London Business School.

He left in 1996 to join facilities management company Building a Property, where he was given the opportunity to manage a contract for the Metropolitan Police and see it through right from tender to operation.

It’s an experience of the contract lifecycle that he feels few other people have had the opportunity to enjoy.

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The company was bought out in 2001 from its venture capital investors by a company called Interserve. Cox was tasked with integrating Building a Property’s IT with its existing FM subsidiary, from a position outside the IT department.

Cox thinks one of the reasons he was chosen for this job was because he had established a reputation for being vocal about the benefits technology could bring. This was effectively Cox’s first stint as the head of IT for a business unit.

In 2004 he left to take a new direction and broaden his experience as an independent consultant with a range of different businesses before taking on his current role at May Gurney.

Cox thinks his experience of managing a contract is highly valuable in his current role, because it gave him a comprehensive understanding of what business stakeholders expect from the company’s technology.

It allows him to empathise with the people in the company who have to sell the complete service to customers. This business experience also helps him to engage the board in his IT strategy.

“That’s pretty much the fundamentals of the role, because the best technology strategy, if not articulated properly, will be a detriment to the business,” he states.

“It means that the board can’t see how relevant it is to business and frontline staff won’t believe in it.”