Myron Hrycyk steps down as CIO of Severn Trent Water today following a seven-year career that has seen him transform and re-transform the Midlands utility company.
Hrycyk said his tenure, one of the longest, has given him a unique insight into how the CIO role and Severn Trent Water has changed in that period of time.
"Severn Trent Water is now a leading water company that has developed some really progressive business thinking about how it delivers its services and how it operates," he said.
"What I see today is an environment that is mobile and flexible and allows our colleagues to travel around our region serving customers, so we are giving our customers a better experience and that is vastly different," he says of the organisation he joined as it was emerging from a troubled history.
Hrycyk became CIO of Severn Trent Water in April 2008 after a new board took the helm to redirect the then Birmingham-based business that had been fined by regulator Ofwat. Today utility peers to Hrycyk tell CIO UK that Severn Trent Water is seen as the darling of the sector.
"It's been a privilege and a once in a career opportunity to transform a FTSE business and there are not many that get that opportunity.
"The people, process, technology adage is absolutely true and CIOs really have to consider people and process; and I've also learnt that we often under-estimate the appetite from our colleagues to adapt to change and use new technology," he says.
"The utility sector is occasionally misrepresented. I have been blown away by the activity and projects that are far and away more innovative than some expect. It is a really active sector and there is a lot of change going on. We are always looking for innovation that will ultimately give our customers a better service.
"CIOs have really started to move up and become ever more integrated with the business, partly because the transformation in technology has meant you can make a far bigger impact on your business. What I have also seen is that the suppliers have become better at the provision of cloud services. Security is now significantly improved and now my CIO peers are driving strategies where cloud is a key component because the product set is more reliable."
Hrycyk says the term digital is useful in that it is ensuring that organisations realise how relevant IT is to them. "10 years ago SAP ERP and networks were making an impact, but then we went through a bit of a hiatus and became back office. But digital platforms mean technology is relevant again as CEOs can see how technology is impacting the customers and revenue that is exciting for CIOs. The best CIOs are those that are transformational and those that transform the way the business operates. Hrycyk points out “I took the opportunity to shape, build and launch our digital strategy, it’s been a fantastic journey pushing IT to the top of the company agenda – CIO’s need to step into this space. In line with this I have seen a major I have seen a change from large heavy lifting project approach to today's Agile with three to four week deployments.
"So one of the key deliverables of the CIO is how they transform the way that the IT team thinks and works. It has to be think big, start small, fail fast and if it works, scale soon," he advises.
Severn Trent Water, like broadcaster Channel 4 which also recently lost its CIO, is not replacing the role, but Hyrcyk's team is more than ready to continue his transformation agenda he says.
"You have to grow a great team and there is a great leadership team that will carry on taking the IT forwards," Hrycyk says. As for the venerable CIO, he still has the passion for the role and would be interested in another asset based role, which he says he really enjoys. The Oxfordshire-based CIO will also be mentoring and coaching the next generation of CIO and welcomes opportunities.