Birrell joined McLaren, rebranded as McLaren Technology Group in January, as CIO in September 2011 and spoke to CIO UK earlier this year from team's Surrey headquarters about the Formula One data race and how the British F1 outfit has put technology at the heart of its operations.
Known best as an F1 team and automotive manufacturer, McLaren Technology Group has been described as "small conglomerate" and includes work in food technology, aviation, the solar and wind industries, pharmaceuticals and clinical healthcare, television, consumer electronics, sports equipment from the bicycle to the bobsled, and indeed airport ticket gates. McLaren became a leading supercar manufacturer in 2011 just after Birrell joined the organisation founded Bruce McLaren.
Previously Birrell, who was in the 2013 CIO 100, was CIO at Gatwick Airport from November 2008 until September 2011 and helped establish a stand-alone IT function and systems capability as the airport was sold and split from its operators BAA.
At Heathrow, University of Warwick MBA Birrell has taken over from Neil Clark who spoke to CIO UK in 2014 about the airport's challenge of operating at 98% capacity and how technology underpins everything at the world's busiest airport by traffic of international passengers, from baggage handling and asset maintenance, to airfield process, the overall operations of planning and control, and the bringing together of all the stakeholders from a vast site which has its own police station, two fire stations and a morgue.